RealEye CEO: Augmented-reality apps to transform tourism technology

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Augmented reality may sound like something out of a science fiction movie, but it’s as close as your smartphone.

For Daniel Gudkov, CEO of RealEye Studio, an augmented reality (AR) and digital design firm in Dubai, the new technology is poised to change the way we see new places.

With its upcoming app, RealEye Studio travelers can point their cameras at a famous building or a local business users have sent in, then immediately receive quick links on what is inside and around the building, information about its history and famous photos of your current location. Gudkov and his team have combined geo-location advertising and travel, while negating the need for location services or Bluetooth connections.

With the app nearly ready for launch, Gulf News Journal spoke with Gudkov about the upcoming release in Dubai, augmented reality and the future of solo travel.

GN: Can you tell me what augmented reality is for the layman?
DG: It’s a technology that allows people to see more than what actually exists, or help people get information from unusual resources. So you can look at a building or monument and see everything about it from your application. The technology gives people additional emotions and information about it.

It can be used to provide the easiest and most convenient way to get to know new cities and destroy language barriers between people in new countries with a language that  tourists can’t speak.

GN: What are some augmented-reality projects you are working on in the tourism industry?
DG: We have completed one mobile application, and we are in the process of making the second application, which will be launched in Dubai. Then we will scale it globally.

The first application is very simple, and it works in Russia and doesn’t have that many objects. It allows you to see some additional information on the historical monuments on some streets, and it was done for a big project for the Historical and Touristic Department in Russia for the 70th anniversary of World War II.

The present application we are working on now is the application that will recognize every famous building or every street with the objects that are recommended by TripAdvisor or just famous by people that are uploaded in the post with a hashtag in a restaurant, café or interesting building. When you visit a new country or a new city, you can use our app and look through it on the street on the building, and it will give you relevant information immediately about the building and the places you can go to visit, pictures of stars or some famous pictures that were made around this place or around the building.

GN: You are using geo-location advertising without relying on Bluetooth or GPS. When will it be launched?
DG: It’s going to be launched in Dubai, and the date is around late December. The final version is going to be around January. The main thing of this project is that we are gonna create a crowdsourcing program so we will generate content for the well-known buildings and well-known places. Then we’ll give people the opportunity to make content by themselves or become a content provider, like Wikipedia. If you know an interesting place -- if you are a local guy, and you know something cool about some restaurant or some interesting viewpoint or something like that -- you can provide pictures to us with a description, and we will implement it in our application, and everyone can know about this place.

GN: How will augmented-reality technology impact the travel and tourism industry?
DG: We know that last year, 1.5 billion people traveled, and 40 percent of people travel by themselves and the number is rising every year. We will give people the tool that will help them travel by themselves.

I speak Russian and English. When I went to China, I found there are no people who speak English. I couldn’t even get information on where to go to even find my hotel. I wanted to use a tool that can give me this information, so I just look at the building, and it gives me information about it.

Basically, this will give people the more convenient way to discover different foreign cities and countries. Travelers will feel more comfortable to travel by themselves and visit more places.

GN: How did RealEye start?
DG: Actually, we started with the idea of using AR in ads, and tourism wasn’t a focus for us. When some political events took place in Russia and affected much of the advertising industry, we had to find our niche, which turned out to be tourism. We find it to be a much more interesting perspective for us.

GN: Why did you come to Dubai?
DG: Basically, we haven’t found support in our country because of the current situation. We decided to go outside, so we contacted different investors...other guys from Europe, from the Middle East. Dubai was the place where we found support. The people are very interested to hear about our services. Plus, one of the main reasons is Dubai had 11 or 12 million tourists last year.

GN: What’s your biggest challenge working in Dubai?
DG: The biggest challenge is the temperature. It’s a new city, new country. Here, there are not so many objects that can be attractive for tourists. They have Burj Khalifa, they have a number of great things like Palma, but this city is more of a business community...If they are coming here, they are coming for shopping or are headed off to some exotic Asian destination. Yet still, there are a lot of tourists here, and we know how to make our product attractive and impressive.

The best thing about Dubai is that people don’t look for something usual. They see something extra and know that it’s unique. So they are seeking something new, something with a perspective with some crazy ideas. You can launch a campaign and a new product here. If you talk about something new and innovative in Russia or several European countries, there wouldn’t be as much progress as here.