Scan with a plan
Christian Floerkemeir, VP Product, CTO and co-founder of Scandit, tells Digital Bulletin how enterprise is leveraging AR to streamline crucial day-to-day tasks
Hi Christian, could you tell us a bit about your role at Scandit?
I am one of the co-founders and worked initially on the development of our algorithms which were originally very focussed on barcode scanning and the scanning performance of smartphone devices. I’m the VP Product, CTO and co-founder, so I look after all product development, solution consulting and product marketing, that’s everything around what we do strategically, how we position ourselves in the market and how we sell to customers.
Could you give us a flavour of Scandit as a company, its position in the market and main activities?
I always say that we started off in the unsexy area of barcode scanning, which is the predominant identification technology in areas like retail, healthcare and logistics. Our focus is offering reliable and swift barcode scanning data capture on smartphone devices.
There has been concern in the past you can’t scan reliably and swiftly on a smartphone and we’ve been addressing that. What we’ve been doing is taking a technology-centric approach; in past companies dedicated vendors that did a superb job, but they focused on hardware, custom image sensors and camera systems to provide barcode scanning performance, because in the early days you didn’t have the computing resources that you have in today’s smartphones.
We are taking different approach; we compute the image backward, in the same way that Photoshop does when you have a blurry photo, so out of a low resolution image we compute a high-resolution image, and we were doing this before machine learning and AI became buzzwords, we should take some credit for that! But it was essential to do that to get our solution to work, because it solved the problem of how reliably and swiftly scanning barcodes on low end devices, that is our bread and butter business.
Could you tell us a bit about the collaboration with Samsung?
Samsung is an important partner because we don’t have hardware ourselves. Samsung has enterprise devices that are rugged and IP protected, and while we need a platform to run our platform on, it’s also true the other way around, so it needs a reliable scanning and data capture software, so it’s really a win-win for both parties. We provide the base capabilities in terms of reliable data capture and barcode scanning and provide the AR scanning, and Samsung brings in the rugged devices with the enterprise capabilities, security updates.
Which industries do you think have potential when it comes to AR?
We definitely see it in retail; the future of retail is a mix of bricks and mortar and ecommerce. What that means is that if you want to bring that ecommerce experience into the store, AR is crucial. Think of a vegan; if I’m online and I want to see all my non-vegan options gone then all I do is click a button. In a store, I need to turn around every package individually, and that’s where AR has huge benefits.
The same is true for healthcare – so much important information can be gleaned just from scanning, it is very powerful. We have already addressed logistics, and I would say these are the three most powerful verticals.
How do you see AR developing for enterprise over the next three to five years?
It’s all about creating value around AR because it has been something of a buzz term that people have been excited about for a while now. But you have to be able to create lasting value for users. Once you have identified those areas, it is then about making the user experience better. For us, that means leveraging the CPU, GPU and NPU capabilities of the phones to create better experiences.
The evolution of AR is going to continue and if we can get to a place where wearable devices with credible AR capabilities are available it will be a game changer, but that is very technology dependent. There are AR companies out there that have received a great deal of funding but what has been created still isn’t what you’d call amazing, so I do struggle to see when that timeline will arrive. Will it be three years? Will it be ten years? I think it is really difficult to say.
What are some of your goals for Scandit over the same time period?
Alaska Airlines has is able to use an iPad and our software to do all check-ins, and we’d like to do that with other companies and make it more of a mainstream technology trend. Our message is that companies don’t need five or six different pieces of hardware all for different jobs – you can do everything with a tablet and software.
Regarding AR, a lot of our success has come from retail operations on the employee side, and I think we can increase customer adoption in stores so it’s about working with retailers to make sure their information is really accurate. That’s something we’ll definitely be continuing to push.