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ID Tag – Visual Bluetooth Tag Browser

Mister Beacon Episode #109

· Mr Beacon

Have you ever seen an item like a shirt, whether it be in person or on TV, and wished there was a magic way to discover which brand it was or where to buy it?

ID TAG could make this a new reality.

ID TAG Technology ‘adds value to digital images and video by embedding real time data and subject location within each image frame’. In one context, this could mean holding up your smartphone’s camera where products would then be identified in frame by Bluetooth sensors, and product information would populate. This week on the Mr. Beacon Podcast, we talk with Geir Vevle, CTO, and Michael Holland, Advisor, of ID TAG and how they are accelerating digital to physical convergence using this Bluetooth technology. Tune in to learn how your retail, broadcast, and social experiences could look like in the future.


Narration 00:07

The Mr. Beacon Podcast is sponsored by Wiliot, scaling IoT with battery free Bluetooth.

Steve Statler 00:16

Welcome to the Mr. beacon podcast. This week, we're going to be talking about digital to physical convergence, how you can have a visual view of the world around you that can tap into the digital information that is being captured with Bluetooth technology that so many of us are using now. And to talk about all of this. I have two gentlemen all the way over in Norway from ID Tag. Gentlemen, would you like to introduce yourselves on the show?

Michael Holland 00:51

I can start I don't have a Norwegian accent. Because Brian, so I'm Australian with the surname of Holland and I live in Lillehammer, Norway. So my name is Michael Holland.

Steve Statler 01:04

Very good. Welcome, Michael. Thank you.

Geir Vevle 01:09

I'm CTO of ID tag. And I live in London and in Norway. City, pretty close to Oslo. Capital.

Steve Statler 01:19

Fantastic. And yeah, how are you guys before we get into the business side of things? what's what's happening COVID pandemic rise in your part of the world. This week.

Geir Vevle 01:34

We are pretty I'm pretty happy at least because I have too many kids. And I've been having them all at home for a long time. This week, we opened up kindergartens. And next week, the lower grade schools are opening. So I'm getting better better, I'm getting more and more work to do. Fast,

Steve Statler 01:57

Wonderful. Well, let's, let's let's talk about ID Tag. And I'm very interested in what you guys have been working on? What is it?

Michael Holland 02:12

But your introduction was interesting. And it was, it was correct. Effectively, what we're doing is we are embedding location data, and, and real time data within each image frame have a either a photo or a video. So why is that relevant? In the world of IoT, image recognition isn't necessarily going to be ideal if you're trying to go around corners. Or if you're trying to locate things that are hidden, or if your image quality is not good, dark, foggy, whatever. So being able to locate sensors, but also capture data off those sensors in real time, is going to be extremely valuable moving forward. And you can think of a number of different applications from the industrial side, right through to all the rumors about glasses that are coming with augmented reality and image overlays.

Steve Statler 03:08

So you know, what, what does one of those applications look like, say, in a retail context? What does this what would this technology due?

Michael Holland 03:21

There's a number of different ways you could apply it in a retail context. But but roughly, if you were to be able to capture data on your phone, as you're walking through a store, there's a number of big box retailers, for example, that we we all know and love, where you wouldn't necessarily have to pick up things as you're going through the store. Because you can identify the data on your device and say, I'll have one of those, one of those one of those, and then pick it up as you exit. But also get all the added product information and extra information that you're not getting from store clerks in one of those big box stores. Because we all know that they're, they're fairly devoid of of help. Also, having sent location information, so if you are for a specific item, you can be taken straight there. Again, from the business side of things. Also,

Steve Statler 04:17

just before we move on to the business side, so what you've described includes kind of your phone is sensing the digital information that becomes can be coming from Bluetooth beacons. But I think what you're describing is a visual user interface where where that information is actually correlated to what you see on the camera of the phone, as you pointed at the person or the thing that's got the digital ID is that the essence of exactly,

Michael Holland 04:48

exactly and before Bluetooth 5.1 we'd actually worked out how to do this. And so yeah, you have a digital overlay on your phone, which actually will very accurately locate that item.

Geir Vevle 05:02

So basically, basically what we do is we measured the angle that the signal is coming from. And we correlate that to the image that you have in front of you, of course, are we would love to see this inside the phones. But at the moment, there are not the technology available at the phones, but we are working at the moment with, with with, with other sensors to bring this type of information together, I mean, an image and the angle that data tags information is actually arriving and putting that on top of each other to make the digital an enhanced image with all information

Steve Statler 05:48

on it. So fast forward, your angle of arrival, Bluetooth angle of arrival integrated with the phone. And you have all sorts of applications, which could include social media and shopping apps and industrial applications where you are not tapping on text, you're actually tapping on the thing that you're interested in. And you're getting a whole lot of digital information about it. And I mean, I think it's a it's a great concept, because, you know, it's sort of similar to the Physical Web in that this idea of typing in scanning QR codes, all that manual intervention is kind of archaic, where you have this amazing device that a can read Bluetooth beacon data, and B can help you associate the tag with the thing. Now, where where have you got to in this stage? So it's a concept? And my understanding is you've patented, you've done more than that you've been doing some PLCs Is that correct?

Geir Vevle 06:58

Yeah, correct. We patented it years ago. And as the years went, the technology got more and more mature. Last year, with the introduction of Bluetooth 5.1, a lot of things has been happening really quickly. So at the moment, we are on a proof of concept that we have, we made years ago a proof of concept. But at the moment, we are making the first prototype of working sensor with all of this integrated, that we will be utilizing on several use cases, next next few months and the rest of the year.

Steve Statler 07:42

So I think people go to your websites and for people that are watching this show, rather than listening to it, we'll get those videos. And so they can overlay and give people more of a sense of this, but you your first proof of concept, it looked like you basically had a tablet, and you had some angle of arrival receivers, like kind of ears, either side of the, the tablet, and then you were able to point the camera at people. And that would be an overlay of a cue that you could tap on. And was that what technology was that using the Cooper Technology or some other angle of arrival technology?

Geir Vevle 08:23

Actually, those proof of concept which were those made in 2015 or so we're using regular Bluetooth devices, though, and what we were out for was deciding if a tag was inside the picture or not, as you can see on those those those movies about current Currently, the technology now is able to actually point you to where on the picture. The targets, which is essential for being able to interact and knowing what you are interacting to. Okay, oh, so at the moment, we're developing this, this this prototype we are we are cooperating with with Cooper for that.

Steve Statler 09:10

Okay, your neighbors down in in Finland? In fact, um, okay, so that's that's kind of the latest stage to help bring life to the idea. But am I right in saying that really to realize the idea you need the phone manufacturers to come on board to adopt it? Is that correct?

Geir Vevle 09:32

Definitely for the to see the full potential of this concept. really wanted to wander down to the onto the phones, correct? Yeah.

Steve Statler 09:41

Okay. Okay.

Geir Vevle 09:42

leverage a lot whole lot of opportunities for the technology.

Steve Statler 09:48

Is there anything that you can do absent of a Google or an apple or a Samsung jumping on board this or is that the the key factor for you?

Michael Holland 09:58

We are actually The prototype is a slave effectively, that's going on the back of a tablet. So it's been miniaturized significantly from the, from the version you see in those original videos, as guide said, there, they're coming up 334 years old now. So there will be some added videos that will be coming in the next next couple of months that will showcase that there is an option to potentially design and build that in the form of a slave to go on the back of the unit. But ideally, of course, we would access access to hardware of the final device. And so really, it's we'd be looking to, you know, some of the big players to see what we're doing. And then, and then jump on board. I

Steve Statler 10:43

mean, I think of this as visual Physical Web, the Physical Web was opening up access to the digital world in a very accessible way, in my mind, you're just sort of taking that to the next stage, not that these tags have to be sending a URL, but I think combination of that technology would be amazing. So it's a great idea. Let's spend a bit more time before we wrap this out. Let's spend a bit more time on the different applications. So Michael, you were talking about the retail experience where you point the phone at the product, and then just tap your phone. And that's in store and that can enable kind of new checkout experiences getting more information that you then you would do from a less than knowledgeable store associate, not that some store associates. Great, but the reality is, it's a tough job. So what about outside of the store? And what does the social media instantiation of this concept to look like?

Michael Holland 11:51

There's it there's a whole bunch of interesting things you can do. With the social media aspect, of course, you've got in Europe, we've got GDPR. And there's that there's privacy considerations that need to be taken into account. And we've really, I guess, focus more on the more direct business applications. But social media, if you if you think that if you're buying most, most clothing these days, or certainly a lot of clothing is coming with, with RFID tags. But if you also think that all UHF tags, if you think that also everyone's phone is potentially a beacon as well. So they're very interesting applications. And to give you a simple one, I guess is if you're at a conference, I don't necessarily want to have my face on the facial recognition system within the conference organizers. But I'm having to give up my phone number and allow access to my phone as a beacon for a period of time. So you're looking around trying to identify people, that's a great way to do it. So that would be a simple social setting. There's lots of other fun applications that you can think of at parties and bars and different things as well, if people want to enable their phones for different reasons, or if you want to meet people. So there is a number of social scenarios. And I think that these social scenarios could be very interesting for a for certain ecosystems. One that we won that we did play with was looked at was from a gaming point of view. So enabling live gaming on on the streets effectively, which is something that, you know, friends at, Pokemon have tried to do. But if I could turn you into an avatar, for example, you could you could take on an avatar, and I can identify identify you on the street. And that opens up all sorts of applications around gaming against each other. And, you know, you can you can spend, you know, hours talking about the different applications, you can use it in live gaming, in that sense, as well. So, so that's a great social example, I think.

Steve Statler 14:00

Yeah, and to me, I see there's plenty of people who are very happy to waive privacy concerns because they're basically using their lifestyle life as a as a closed source to sell other people's products. My next door neighbor has got 50,000 followers and gets all bunch of free stuff. And she makes videos and gets paid for them. And this is kind of the entry level is obviously people with millions of followers who could have tags in their clothing and you could basically, you know, buy from seeing them in the street or at a party and a lot of interesting business models there.

Michael Holland 14:44

Yeah, exactly. So So as a if your attack a future view of that and think that she could order over the web, you know, a packet of tags and she wanted to tag up her own clothing and she could make her own labels and things. Absolutely. That that is definitely a scenario where If she was holding an event, for example, everybody attending that event, and I've been to some of these vloggers and influencer events with my kids, and it's, you know, they're massive. And so if that person is kitted out, and everyone can hold up their phones and identify what they're wearing, and wearing and buy it there, and then absolutely doable. Yeah.

Geir Vevle 15:22

It's like marketing on the wall anyway, they have these brands, logos all over yourself. So it could be a very interesting application,

Michael Holland 15:36

you have an opt out ability with that, I think that's, that's the most important aspect of it.

Steve Statler 15:42

What about the industrial applications,

Geir Vevle 15:47

we are, we are working with several of them, and they tend to be easier to access because, because sometimes at least we can keep them close loop. So one of them of course, we are looking into this is broadcasting or sports events, where you tend to have at least several events before all events got to close down. You have these companies living out of taking out taking pictures of you running or skiing or whatever you are doing. And that's an example of where you can you can benefit from having that that video is personalized. So that's that's that's a is a sector where we are we are working, where your your your video is actually personalized based on that you are tagged. If you're in a crowd, it's pretty convenient to have your name on top of your head in enough crowd.

Michael Holland 16:52

And Steve, this is a this is a massive opportunity. I gave a speech to some organizers at the Youth Olympics when they were here Winter Olympics a couple of years ago. And my pitch to them. And I'm quite happy to debate this with a lot of, you know, the big sports organizations, effectively. I worked in broadcast historically, and I've packaged media and sold big big sports packages. And the 32nd television commercial is dead. It's not dead, but it's it's on the ground. You know, it's it's waiting for the for the last rites, basically. So there's that there's a massive income stream there that needs to get replaced. And I'm not saying that this is the be all and end all. But this is one thing that could be added to that revenue stream. So all the broadcast is looking at opportunities, I've had discussions with a number of them. And this is certainly something that is interesting for them in, in thinking of the future and being able to do digital overlays with either from a sports point of view or if you think of your favorite Home Improvement show and being able to tag all the items in the show. There are similar things out there now. But they are time consuming and expensive. So we believe that this is it selling broadcast is a really interesting opportunity.

Steve Statler 18:12

Well, it's a good fit for your proof of concept as well, because you can have something so large, maybe slightly more expensive setup. Yeah, it can be used in that context and then miniaturized for for mass consumption. Yeah, well, very good. I think this is a brilliant idea. Any last things you want to cover? Before we wrap this up? I do hope that this gets traction, because I think the visual Physical Web as so many applications is going to make this digital passport, this digital twin that we have something that people can use more readily.

Michael Holland 18:52

Yeah, I two things I'd like to add. One is that whilst Bluetooth 5.1 has helped accelerate what we're doing. We're not limited by Bluetooth as far as being able to locate devices. And so I learned a wonderful term from ABB not long ago, where they're talking about massive five G. And I've never heard this term before. But essentially, their definition of massive five years is over a million sensors within a one kilometer radius of in a populated city. So so we've got that type of density coming up. So that's where this technology is going to be really interesting. The other point I'd like to make is part of our IP, which we have patented is is actually overlaying that data onto an image. So as soon as you take the sensor data and overlay it onto an image that our pets cover that so that's also adds a lot of value to what we're doing moving forward. So that's, that's also a really interesting point in in what we're talking to a lot of these companies about.

Steve Statler 19:58

Very good well I hope this conversation inspires some people to to move forward and take action around this because I think it can be very beneficial. Gentlemen, thanks very much for spending time with us and hope things continue to improve over there in Norway. That's great to hear that you're starting to open up again.

Michael Holland 20:19

Yeah, well, the sun shining, and it's looking

Geir Vevle 20:24

pretty good so far. Thank you, for having us.

Steve Statler 20:33

We do have this tradition in the podcast, which is you have to come up with three songs that you would take on a trip to Mars. So I guess between the two of you, there's six songs. So who wants to go first?

Geir Vevle 20:47

I will bring a YouTube song, at least one called one. Because if I were going to Mars, I think it will be a one time experience. And I will also bring a killer song called the human just in case I meet anybody there. Okay. Awesome introduction. Ah, I'm not sure about the third person. So I'll let Michael jump in.

Steve Statler 21:20

Okay, Michael, you get a bonus song. for

Michael Holland 21:26

it. This is a surprise to me. I wasn't expecting this. So we actually had a fun night last night on music. So I had a friend over here is a musician. So we were playing the cross see if you know who they are. So I'm sure my age bit here. Has song called the honeymoon is over. But they're the whole album called the alpha score, three legged dog. And it's just got a fantastic group through the whole album side.

Steve Statler 21:54

by yourself or there's someone else in your house play the guitar or

Michael Holland 21:59

a hidden secret of my background is that I went straight out of school to be a DJ and write in radio. But I'm not musically. The guitar behind me is not mine. That's my daughter's actually. Okay. My daughter just got accepted today in the music school. So that's exciting for us. That she's the musician, but I know music well.

Steve Statler 22:23

Okay, well, the same as me. So I almost ended up being a DJ on the radio only I didn't have the talent to do it. But I ran the college radio station and did a bunch of shows.

Geir Vevle 22:37

You seem You seem to have a record player and in the background.

Steve Statler 22:41

I do.

Geir Vevle 22:42

Old School type.

Steve Statler 22:45

I'm partial to the long playing records. Okay, Michael. Well, that was one. So do you have any more that you want to take with you?

Michael Holland 22:55

Oh, so I'd have to let me see. I could mind some of the classics. You could pick actually Steve arrived long skies prime. There you go.

Steve Statler 23:09

Just a good record, or does it conjure up memories of a specific time for you?

Michael Holland 23:14

No, it's just a great track. It's just a great track. And then for complete contrast. You could put Bocelli's Goodbye.

Steve Statler 23:26

Okay. For diverse, thanks for that, thanks for indulging in, in that little tradition that we have

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