Matt Mills: The Innovation Interview

Matt Mills, Global Head of Sales & Innovation for Aurasma – the world’s first visual browser for smartphones and tablets leading the market in Augmented Reality shares his thoughts and insights on how technology and innovation are impacting the Augmented Reality industry.

Aurasma was developed by software company Autonomy – an HP Company. Prior to working on Aurasma, Matt held the position of Senior VP for Autonomy’s Optimization platform for Europe. Matt holds a Degree in Computer Science from the University of Durham and has given the TED Talk on the future of Image Recognition and Augmented Reality.

How do you define innovation and what does it mean to you?

Innovation means challenging the status quo by changing the way people view and interact with the world around them. True innovators stretch boundaries, erase limits and deliver solutions to fill a gap that you may never have known even existed. In the case of Aurasma, we are shifting the way people consume information by bridging the gap between offline and online interactions. Our platform is only the beginning to this fundamental paradigm shift and we’re excited to be leading the charge.

What industry needs to embrace innovation and take more risks?

The publishing industry has been around for years and years, but in the last five to ten years it’s been challenged to adopt a digital identity while still maintaining its traditional heart and soul in print. It’s important for publishers to embrace the shifting landscape and accept the digital evolution as another means to reach their increasingly mobile audience. What makes Aurasma unique is that it serves as the mobile gateway between print and digital offering the best of both worlds to readers.

What is the best piece of advice that you have been given and received?

With over four million users and more than 10,000 partners not a day goes by without receiving some form of advice. Our partners and fans have been a huge resource in building our business and developing our platform over the last year and a half. From big brands like Marvel to elementary school teachers, our partners have challenged us to test boundaries and deliver on these requests. Ultimately, it is thanks to the input from our loyal partners and fans that we’re excited to announce our rebranded and fully equipped Aurasma platform that includes many new features and functionality.

What is your greatest achievement and why?

We will talk about Telefonica shortly, however, it still needs a mention here as it was a ground-breaking move for the AR industry as a whole. But overall, GQ remains a significant milestone for the augmented reality (AR) industry. With every single advertisement augmented as well numerous editorial pieces, it is an example of a true cover-to-cover augmented reality magazine. Conde Nast is setting new standards for the publishing industry and serves as a proof point that AR is happening today and Aurasma has the scalability to make it happen.

Newspapers and Books: Digital or Physical?

Working in the tech industry, I am lucky enough to have a number of great devices for reading on-the-go. There’s no doubt that for browsing newspapers and glossy mags the iPad has advantages and the Kindle is great; however, as a digital native I still prefer the print copy and physically holding a book. One of the reasons I’m passionate about AR is that it bridges the gap between the two.

Augmented reality will change the way the physical and digital worlds interact with each other. How do you see the technology evolving in the years to come?

The big change will be a move away from gimmicky fun and towards scalable platforms and everyday use cases. As this starts to happen you will see consumer adoption rise and this will drive the industry forward. We are still educating the general public on augmented reality, but as smartphones become more prevalent and brands and publishers adopt the technology, the experience will naturally weave itself into our everyday lives.

Aurasma’s deal with Telefónica Digital will allow your augmented reality platform to possibly reach 25 markets and 300m customers. Will you continue to grow the business by partnering with other telecommunication companies?

We are always interested in partnering with people who will grow our business. This week we announced a similar partnership with another telco which will see our platform distributed to some 100m subscribers across the Middle East.

We first met with Aurasma regarding the creation of an augmented reality experience for a major label recording artist. Lately you have announced partnerships with The Rolling Stones, Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood. Are the major labels embracing your platform?

Yes, we have a very strong relationship with many of the major recording labels. For them it is a great way to add digital content to existing materials which can increase their value, be a forum to share exclusive content to their loyal fans, and generate buzz through social channels when launching a new album. We are starting to see some labels build teams around Aurasma production as more and more of their artists have a desire to use AR for these goals.

What sector do you think would most benefit from integrating augmented reality into their existing businesses?

I have been running around with a wireless router in my bag for over a year now and nobody has yet embraced at scale the idea that you can point a device at a physical object and see instructions on how to install it.

Ironically, the direct answer here might be the technology industry, but there are many instances across all sectors in which this use case can benefit an organization or industry especially with training programs.

As 2013 steadily approaches, do you feel that Apple, Google and Samsung will follow in the steps of Nokia and integrate augmented reality into their phones and tablets? If so, how will this affect your business?

Well – I certainly hope so! Aurasma has always been about building a platform and in order for AR to be successful there has to be content for people to view. As a result, we hope that over the next 12 months we see more people building their own AR viewers that draw on the wealth of augmented reality content we’ve been building up for education, advertising, editorial content, and even user-generated content over the last 18 months.