BitDepth#865 - December 18

Three keen young men want to give the world a moving 360 degree view of the best that Trinidad and Tobago has to offer.
The world all around us, online
Ameer Al-Jaleel, holding a mapping camera and Brent Webster at the Union Club. The rugged device can also be used for industrial and commercial projects. Photograph by Mark Lyndersay.

The team from AM-In Motion is enthusiastic. Start them talking about their video solution and it’s easy to begin seeing it as a magic bullet solution for the country’s moribund international tourism marketing efforts.
It’s no secret that Trinidad and Tobago’s industrious absence from the world tourism markets is only derailed by the cussedness of people who insist on coming here anyway.

Virgin Airlines, always game for an uphill gamble is withdrawing from its Tobago route, a man willing to fund tours to space deciding that the chances for success on our sister island are too slim.
Listening to Ameer Al-Jaleel and Brent Webster talk about their new 360 degree video tour project is a bit like drinking from a firehose, the two trodding merrily over each other’s conversations in a rush to explain what they’re up to.

Better yet, have a look at it first
here. And don’t just look at the video, swipe or click around in it to experience the vertiginous sense of gliding visually through a live action experience.
Back yet? Good. It’s a sticky experience isn’t it? Al-Jaleel and Webster claim that people have been spending five minutes watching every minute of that video.

AM-In Motion proposes to use that technology to launch two projects, Explore T&T, a series of visual tour experiences of tourist friendly sites in Trinidad and Tobago and Carnival 360, a live stream experience of the festival that visitors can interact with.

Al-Jaleel’s excitement about the Carnival 360 project, and his adventurous plans for it make it distressing to learn that the lead time for Carnival 2013 is too close to consider and his team is aiming for a deployment in 2014. He believes that he can attract at least 50 million viewers to see the festival streamed live on this platform.

“Our Carnival is being overshadowed,” Al-Jaleel said. “I had my first experience in J’Ouvert last year, and I was amazed by the intimacy of it. I don’t think that people who hear about our festival really know what it’s like, and I think this technology can really show them that.”

The Explore T&T video project and its accompanying website and smartphone app will depend on the Government’s enthusiasm to implement it, but the team is hoping for a launch in early 2013. The software development will take at least two months and the approval process to get into the iTunes store, and the Android Play store can add another three weeks to that.

So how does this all get done?
AM-In Motion is working with Immersive Media as its fourth full business partner to implement the next generation of the technology that powers Google’s Street View.
The device, which looks like a wand designed by an Asgardian troll, is essentially a rugged metal sphere studded with cameras on a stout shaft.

Each camera captures 12 megapixel images or 1080p video with enough overlap to create a seamless image that delivers a 360 degree view save for a tiny spot below the device where the mount shaft is.
Newer versions of the device, Brent Webster noted, remove even that blind spot.
The device has been used for entertainment purposes before (by MTV, Intel and Red Bull) but Google and the US Army also use the topographic data captured by the device along with the image and video to build 3D data simulations of the landscape as well as immersive video experiences.

AM-In Motion hopes to quickly move from the whiz bang of the video experience to embedding background information into the video being captured.
“Imagine clicking on an object and finding out about its history in the live video feed,” explains Al-Jaleel with a wide grin, “imagine tagging a friend with Facebook tools while the camera rolls past them on Carnival Tuesday.”
AM-In Motion is talking to the Ministry of Trade and InvesTT, but why are these enthusiastic entrepreneurs waiting on Government approvals for a project that screams with commercial potential for big money brands?

“People have asked us that,” Al-Jaleel said, “but this is Trinidad and Tobago and it’s the most important brand we have. There’s more negative than positive information available on this country online and we’re fed-up of people not knowing where we’re from...”
“Except for cricket fans,” Webster says, “cricket fans always know about Trinidad and they even recognise the accent.”

“This should be national in scope, the goal is to create a one-stop shop where people can experience Trinidad and Tobago,” Al-Jaleel said. “Where a visitor can explore before they leave home and then bring with them on a phone maps, directions, travel times and visual tours that they can use to orient themselves.”

The AM-In Motion team is reluctant to put a figure to the project but would acknowledge that it’s on par with the budget that the Government spends currently on its international tourism projects.
blog comments powered by Disqus