Sebastian Winkler of shoutr labs: “We are a logical addition to 5G”
Mr. Winkler, shoutr.Boxx enables users to quickly transfer large data volumes. Museum visitors, for instance, can use your product to play back supplementary interactive content on their smartphones. What benefits does this offer compared to conventional wireless networks?
The main advantage is that shoutr.Boxx saves all content that is relevant to an exhibition in a local storage location. This means that, rather than using the Internet to connect to an anonymous server located somewhere in the world, shoutr.Boxx retrieves the data locally, “directly from inside the building”, as it were. In addition, users can access the existing infrastructure, if buildings are equipped with a wireless network.
Can you explain this in more detail, please?
A good example would be the Liebermann Villa on Wannsee, which Impressionist painter Max Liebermann used as his summer residence and which now is a museum. We have installed shoutr.Boxxes in the villa which visitors can log onto using their mobile device, a smartphone in most instances. Visitors who do not own a smartphone can rent a device. Once they have logged on, visitors can retrieve interactive content on the paintings on display. This includes, for instance, a fantastic audio guide as well as supplementary videos, images and 360-degree panoramic views. And there's no need to download an app to access the content. shoutr.Boxx even includes a tool to classify plants. Rather than having to use their own mobile data volumes to access the content, users can access the data directly in the museum’s local network.
Which are the areas where you have most of your customers?
In fact, museums are our most important customers. Lately, we have also been increasingly collaborating with architecture firms. Using augmented reality technology, we were able to visualize an entire building based on the floor plan which we then projected on the users’ smartphones while on location. On top of that, we work with many industry customers which involves visualizing complex processes using augmented reality technology. These customers have to deal with large data volumes which is why they use shoutr.Boxx. Most recently, we worked with Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week to enable visitors to take a closer look at so-called “points of interest” by accessing a visualization projected onto a car. For instance, these points of interest were located on the headlights, the dashboard and the head rest. Depending on where the users pointed their smartphones, they were shown the car’s performance strength by means of a light visualization, for instance. In addition, users could enter into a raffle by accessing a video on their smartphones.
Which markets would you like to tap next?
We are interested in any application that brings people together, allowing us to interact with audiences using multi-media content. Shopping malls certainly are ideal for this purpose, as are urban areas in general.
Ever since Pokémon Go appeared on the scene, augmented reality, i.e. technology linking our offline world to digital content, has taken centre stage in the tech world. Last year, Projekt Zukunft implemented a 5G test field at ISTAF in collaboration with Deutsche Telekom and Nokia, paving the way for 5G data communication. Which trends do you expect do you expect to come out on top in the next months?
3D and Augmented Reality, AR in short, will certainly be very important. The fact that we won the Innovationspreis Berlin Brandenburg last year is a major indicator pointing to this trend as well. After all, visualizing 3D applications in the real world generates huge amounts of data. Our technology streams this data and only when the smartphone camera detects a marker will the end device read content from the Boxx, which is the only time when data will be streamed. A marker could be a photo or a Mercedes star, for instance. What makes this approach superior to other approaches it that, rather than having to download hundreds of megabytes before they could start the stream, users simply download the truly interesting data from a local storage quickly and efficiently.
5G is said to cause a revolution in data communication. In future, huge amounts of data will supposedly fly back and forth in real time on mobile devices. What does this mean for shoutr.labs – do you consider 5G competition or a useful gimmick?
Augmented Reality, AR, and Virtual Reality, VR, will blow up data volumes. In the past, we used to stream video and audio only, which worked okay. However, end devices are becoming increasingly powerful and displays keep getting better which makes 5G a necessary prerequisite for people to be able to stream interactive content while in transit. Of course, there will still be wireless networks locally to make data available quickly. And it will take a while until every user has access to 5G data flatrates. I expect providers to initially start selling maybe 100 gigabytes per month. However, this will not be sufficient to go on a museum tour in Berlin and look at hundreds of 3D objects. This will cause users to think twice whether to download an audio or video guide or rather stream content for free from local shoutr.Boxx networks. Our product certainly is a logical and useful wireless supplement to support 5G through local wireless networks.
Your company is bringing together culture and technology, two areas which are of significant importance to Berlin in economic terms. In your view, how advanced is the integration of the cultural sector and the IT industry?
We support the cultural sector in its digitisation efforts by facilitating their access to visitors through innovative and simple-to-use technologies. It is vital for the cultural sector to be open about these technological innovations in order to enrich the user experience prior to and after visits to a museum. We are open to collaborations outside of the museum industry.
Before we end the interview, I have one last request – could you please complete the following sentence: Berlin is...
...my home and an ideal basis for us, as the city boasts a vibrant cultural and creative scene and there are always exciting projects in the offing. On top of that, Berlin is a fantastic location to conveniently reach out to all our customers.