TechBytes with Joshua Smith, CTO, Kaon Interactive

Joshua Smith

Joshua Smith
CTO, Kaon Interactive

Immersive Content and Visual Marketing are buzzing louder than any other marketing tool in 2018. Videos, AR/VR, and Live streaming content are perfect recipes for a powerful audience engagement at any time. We spoke to Joshua Smith, CTO, Kaon Interactive, to better understand the current state of visual marketing technologies and how his company would extend the benefits of their partnership with Google and Lenovo to customers.

Tell us about your role at Kaon Interactive and the team/technology you handle. 

I am a founder and CTO of Kaon Interactive. I am still quite hands-on with the technology, leading the platform team. We provide the infrastructure layers of the Kaon SaaS platform, which make it possible for the application programmers to easily deploy solutions across all kinds of devices.

What is the current state of 3D Marketing and Sales for B2B companies?

Using 3D as a way of demonstrating products is now an expected practice in many industries since it has been proven to improve the top line revenue and reduce expenses. Over the past couple of years, we have been moving our customers to use 3D visualization of scenes and abstract concepts, so that they can be effectively telling their stories. On the product side, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are the “new thing” that we’ve been helping our customers deploy. Since we are adding these features at the platform level, our customers don’t have to do anything new. Their existing 3D product models “just work” in AR and VR now.

Tell us more about your VR technology?

For high-end VR, we decided that instead of tying our customers down to one vendor’s SDK, we would instead build upon the evolving WebVR standards. That strategy has proven successful, as it allowed us to pivot from the first generation of VR hardware (Oculus, Vive) to the second generation (Windows Mixed Reality) without having to rewrite our applications. Although the WebVR standard seems to have stalled on mobile hardware, we already support it there as well, and once the transition to WebXR is complete, our customer applications will support VR on day one.

In the mobile application space, we were an early adopter of Daydream, which has allowed us to easily support the new Daydream-based all-in-one Lenovo Mirage Solo. We are very excited about this as a VR platform because it is low cost, requires no set-up, and the visual fidelity and tracking are outstanding. At last count, we have about 15 customer applications in the Google Play Store supporting this new device.

What are the core tenets of your partnership with Google and Lenovo? 

Both Google and Lenovo are eager to find applications of AR and VR technology within the enterprise. We are the only company that is actively fielding AR- and VR-enabled sales and marketing applications in the enterprise space. So, both companies have been working with us to help define their products in ways that ensure maximum utility outside the games market. We benefit by getting early access to new technologies so that we can have things ready to field the moment new technology and devices hit the street.

How do you plan to extend the benefits of this partnership to your customers?  

When Lenovo released the first Tango devices, our customer applications supported that on day one. When ARCore replaced Tango, our customer’s applications were immediately updated to support that. And when the Mirage Solo hit the market, we immediately had more than a dozen enterprise sales and marketing apps which supported it. Going forward, our customers can be confident that they are always on the leading edge of these exciting new technologies.

How are you competing against the established platforms for interactive content?

There aren’t any established platforms that support 3D AR and VR. There are game engines like Unity and Unreal, but they aren’t enterprise platforms. They don’t solve enterprise problems like making applications that work cross-platform out of the box, authenticating users, or pushing global updates instantly without waiting on app store approvals. There are enterprise content management platforms that do those things, but they are used to push videos, PDFs, or simple HTML5 applications. Our platform is the only one that works at the enterprise scale and also delivers the latest 3D AR and VR technology.

In 2018, to what extent do Product Innovation teams manage to bridge the gap between UX and CX? How do you achieve that in Kaon?

In the applications themselves, the key to providing a great CX is to conform to corporate brand standards and ensure the messaging is on point. Corporate messaging around products and solutions is constantly evolving, so having a platform that allows quick and painless updates and instant push to a global sales force across all devices is critical. The other key component of great CX is to ensure you provide value at every customer engagement touch point. If the customer first learns about your products on an interactive kiosk at a trade show, they should be able to continue that experience when they meet with the salesperson using a mobile application. And they should be able to access that same content themselves via the web and share it easily through business communication tools and social media. Making a great UX is important, but you cannot provide the CX you need without an enterprise platform. That’s Kaon’s “secret sauce” for CX.

What does your product and solutions roadmap look like for Mobile Marketing?

AR and VR are changing rapidly on mobile, and our roadmap is largely focused on making sure we are always the first to market as new capabilities reach maturity. That means WebXR, AR wearables, all-in-one VR, and finding new ways to exploit existing VR and AR platforms to help our customers close deals.

What technologies in AI/machine learning have you deployed, or plan to deploy in the coming months?

We have some machine learning experiments running in the lab, leveraging the tools and technologies becoming available on mobile. Thus far, there isn’t anything that we’ve found robust enough to deploy to an enterprise sales force, though. There are some image recognition apps in the marketing space that are certainly amusing and entertaining, but they don’t solve real customer problems in B2B sales. So, the short answer is nothing yet.

Thanks for chatting with us, Joshua.
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