Well, this is a nice way to start the new year.  Thanks Computer Weekly for making us one of your 'top ten' retail stories, again helping to bring augmented reality into the day to day retail world.

We hope to be able to announce even more exciting news soon!

Stay tuned.
Wowsers - this time last week we were putting the final flourishes to our augmented reality video for Tesco and keeping our fingers crossed that our press release would generate some interest.

It's fair to say that we've been pleasantly surprised by the immense level of interest the launch received.  Thousands and thousands of tweets, coverage in over 52 outlets and as of this morning we're about to break through the 20,000 views barrier on our video on You Tube.

And of course being featured on Tesco's main homepage has helped a fair bit too!

Heaps of people have experienced Augmented Reality in store as well - with the entertainment sector proving to be particularly popular.  (Show a movie/game/CD case to the camera and watch the trailer - example here).

We were particularly touched to be the subject of Nick Lansley's latest blog entry.  Those of you who don't know, Nick is head of R&D at Tesco and was one of the founding fathers of Tesco.com.  Nick has been a strong champion of Kishino's technology ever since he saw it 18 months ago and realised it's potential for improving the shopping experience.

His last sentence reads: "Congratulations to the team at Kishino who have done a great job".  Aww *blushes* - thanks Nick!

Of course we're not sitting on our laurels, we've had loads of great feedback already to help improve the proposition, technology and user experience.  We're grateful for all comments - so please do keep them coming!

We had a hugely exciting day yesterday as our press release about the Tesco launch went out, we even had Aunty Beeb on the phone.  To add to all of that excitement, there was an executive visit to one of the Tesco branches & the great and the good of Tesco's leadership board got to play with augmented reality themselves.  All the feedback was very encouraging.

We're thrilled that today we've had lots of great coverage, check out the really positive comments in the Mashable article which has been re-tweeted over 1,000 times.

Mashable: http://mashable.com/2011/11/16/augmented-reality-catalog/

BBC:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-15771023

Retail Gazette: http://www.retailgazette.co.uk/articles/44432-tesco-to-trial-augmented-reality-instore

Marketing: http://www.marketingmagazine.co.uk/news/rss/1104715/Tesco-free-shelf-space-augmented-reality-trial/

The Drum: http://thedrum.co.uk/news/2011/11/17/tesco-launches-augmented-reality-service

The official Tesco augmented reality video is now finished and we're really pleased with it.  It's a step by step guide for how to use the augmented reality on Tesco.com.  The voice over recording was done by an actor called Derek Riddell who was Ashley Jensen's husband in Ugly Betty (amongst other things).  We think he did a great job. Do you? It's on our home page, check it out now!
We had a really long, busy and fun day shooting our Tesco "How To" video.  The concept behind it was simple - we needed to clearly explain how to use Tesco's augmented reality shopping experience.

We had a real live guinea pig in Vicki, a Tesco mum (and clubcard holder) - she didn't know what she was going to be doing and it's no exaggeration to say that she was absolutely blown away when she saw her first augmented reality product!  We had to drag her away from the computer at the end of the day.

The film is now in the editing room and the voice over is being recorded on Monday - we hope to have it live on Tesco's website on Tuesday.  So watch this space...

In the meantime, here are a few snaps from the day.

Still in prototype, but we're pretty excited about what we've done.  Coming to a Tesco.com near you soon for all you Harry Potter fans out there.
The sceptics amongst you could be forgiven for asking if Augmented Reality has finally come of age for retail.  Certainly it's been used to great effect in marketing campaigns of late, but it is still to be deployed on large scale e-commerce sites or throughout retail stores as part of the buying experience. 

It's really hard to find good data on the subject.  However, I serendipitously found some interesting and insightful data on how Augmented Reality increases sales conversion rates. Thank you Hidden Creative.  Their research revealed a 135% increase in likelihood to buy when experiencing an augmented reality version of a product versus looking at a product image. Their research also discovered that AR has a positive impact on value perception - with the survey particpants valuing the AR product 33% higher than the non AR product.

Very encouraging!

We're hoping to see both an increase in conversion from our AR implementation at Tesco, as well as a reduction in returns.

It's great to see Hidden Creative sharing this data so openly.  I hope we can do the same when we get the results back from Tesco.

For all you Star Wars fans out there....this is a demo of what we're working on with a Lego(R)model of the Millenium Falcon - fancy playing with the Millennium Falcon at home before you buy it? Not only does it zoom around the room, it also shows the actual texture of the product in 3D - so it looks like the real thing.  Also it's exactly to scale - so you get a really good idea of the actual size of what you're buying.

It still needs a bit of work before we go live with it on Tesco.  But you can see the current - non animated - version on their AR site right now.

That's Pete by the way, he's our CTO.  A Very Clever Man.

If you're a start up and haven't read ReWork by Jason Fried then get it now - I promise you won't regret it.

Some say it's controversial in places, but I found it to be one of the most succint, plain talking business books I've ever read.  "The obvious isn't always apparent" is a somewhat overused phrase - however this book points out what should be the obvious, but my experience has proven is often lost in the melee.

One section I didn't entirely agree with though, was the PR piece in the chapter on Promotion. They say welcome obscurity and use the time to make mistakes before the whole world is watching your every move.  I get that.  That's why we spent a year working with Tesco kicking our tyres, making sure our Augmented Reality platform can scale to up to 20,000 products (whereas our competition can only scale to 100).   

They say build an audience, which we're starting to do now we have something to talk about.  And go behind the scenes to let your audience see how things are done, which this blog, over time, should achieve.  

The one thing I don't 100% buy (and I really could quote most of this book ad verbatim) is that Press Releases are spam.  I think it depends on the business you're in and the story you have to tell.  

I despair of software companies who issue a press release about 'our latest feature or version' - it's pointless.  I despise the recent and growing strategy of press releases for SEO, spammed up with keywords that are distributed in the faint hope that a few blogs will pick them up and link back to the site in question.  And I do think that a mass distributed press release, to a wide, anonymous audience is fairly pointless too.

But our situation is different.  Tesco will be doing their own PR for Augmented Reality, they have some big plans for it, it's exciting.  But we have our own angle and needs that are different from Tesco; we want the Kishino story to be told & to get the chance to explain that we're the company powering the first retailer in the world to roll out a multi-channel, multi-category Augmented Reality retail experience.  Our risk is, if we don't do a press release, that we'll get lost in the Tesco PR machine.  And we're hoping that some journalists will be interested in hearing about this little British company who are making such huge strides in this arena.

So we're doing a press release, with a great story, which will be sent to carefully selected journalists.  Hopefully I’ll be linking to them from here in the coming weeks.

So thanks Jason Fried, for your amazing book and sharing the 37 Signals thoughts and strategies with us.   I respectfully disagree that (all) Press Releases are spam.  But will let you know how we get on

The next few weeks will hopefully project Kishino from fledgling stage onto the world stage as we're the company behind the launch of Tesco's multi-platform Augmented Reality experience.

I'm the person in charge of marketing, so one of my key challenges with Augmented Reality (AR) is how to turn the techno-babble gobble-de-goop into words that people can understand.

When I talk to my friends about it, it usually goes something like this:

Me:  "Do you remember that Tom Cruise film, Minority Report, when he waves his hands in front of those funny screens"

Them: "Oh yes".

Me: "Well we do that projection thing too, but with products like a Lego model - you can spin it around and see it from all sides.  Or a TV so you can see what connectors it's got.   Or you can even project a necklace onto you, so you can see if you like it before you buy it".
(All my girlfriends like that last one).

Them: "Ooh, that's clever, how is the trial going"?

Me: "Ask me in three months time".

You see, it's not necessarily easy to communicate the benefits of AR and that's one of the challenges we're going to have to overcome if we're to deploy it to the masses and make it part of an every-day shopping experience.

We're making a video which hopefully will help.  In the meantime, you can have a play yourself online at Tesco and soon it'll be available in stores.