While the world is only recently becoming aware of its existence, augmented reality has been around in some form or another since the '90s. In the last decade, with the advancement and miniaturization of computer technology — specifically smartphones and tablets — AR has become far more viable as a usable tool and even more so as a form of entertainment. And these are the people behind mobile AR to keep an eye on.
This list focuses on long-time innovators and new talent in the field of mobile augmented reality tech who are responsible for some of the biggest applications out right now, including ModiFace, Snapchat, and Pokémon GO. All of these names appear in Next Reality's list of 50 People to Watch in Augmented and Mixed Reality.
Ambarish Mitra is the CEO and co-founder of Blippar, a visual discovery app that uses AR, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to give people an augmented discovery of the world around them. Blippar acquired AR giant Layar in 2014. Mitra wanted to create the ultimate augmented reality browser through a computer-based recognition of everything in the surrounding physical world.
In 2016, Mitra was awarded UK Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young. In the same year, Blippar was ranked the 9th most disruptive company in the world by CNBC's Disruptor 50. In 2017, Mitra was announced Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.
Mitra once said that he attended and graduated from the London School of Economics, but the school disputed that Mitra is an alumnus there, and Mitra himself has since dialed backed the claim. His LinkedIn profile has since been updated to state he attended the University of London.
Caspar Thykier is the co-founder and CEO of Zappar, a leader in augmented reality products and experiences that also leverage virtual and mixed reality.
Previously, Thykier was the non-executive director of VEEMEE, a company which reinvented the home screen on your mobile device by letting users create a virtual self through its avatar-driven app to personalize messaging, content delivery, and advertising.
Thykier attended Edinburgh University in the UK for Social Anthropology.
Evan Spiegel is the co-founder and CEO of the American multinational technology and social media company Snap, maker of the wildly popular Snapchat app. He created it in 2011 with Bobby Murphy and Reggie Brown while they were all students at Stanford University. Spiegel dropped out of Stanford University a few credits shy of graduating with a Product Design degree.
Snap has employed plenty of augmented reality options to Snapchat, including AR face filters and World Lenses, which lets you augmented text and other things overtop your snaps, and they are still expanding their AR advertisement initiative, and purchased Cimagine Media, a company based around augmented commerce. Snapchat is thought of as the first major social AR platform available, and Facebook is continually copying their AR filters just to keep up with them.
John Hanke is the founder and current CEO of Niantic, a software development company that designed the augmented reality mobile games Pokémon GO and Ingress. Previously, Hanke led Google's Geo division, which included Google Earth, Google Maps, Local, StreetView, SketchUp, and Panoramio.
Hanke is known for Keyhole, where he was once a CEO before Google acquired the company in 2004. Keyhole was a software company specializing in geospatial data visualization applications.
He is also known for Field Trip, an augmented maps app that informs you of all the cool stuff around you. He received an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley, and a BA in Plan II at the University of Texas at Austin. Hanke believes AR is far better than VR.
Johnny Chung Lee has been working as a Technical Program Lead in the Advanced Technology and Projects group (ATAP) at Google since 2011 and leads the team behind Project Tango, Google's augmented reality computing platform.
Before working on Project Tango, Lee worked at Google X and at Microsoft Applied Sciences as a core contributor to Xbox Kinect. Lee holds a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction from Carnegie Mellon University and a BS in Computer Engineering from the University of Virginia. He is interested in exploring novel interface technology to influence and help the lives of many people.
Juergen Lumera is the Director of Global TIS Product Management and Innovation at Bosch Automotive Service Solutions, who is currently very interested in "new trends and technologies for technical documentation." Bosch created the Common Augmented Reality Platform (CAP), which gives automakers an easy way to create content for iOS, Android, and Windows devices.
Lumera previously worked as the Director of Global TIS Product Management and Innovation at SPX Corporation. He believes AR "is the future of technical documentation because the market has the tools and will demand the content for it."
Otavio Good is a computer programmer and inventor and has been working as a software engineer at Google since 2014 when Google acquired Good's own company, Quest Visual, creator of the popular Word Lens language app.
Word Lens was the first augmented reality translation application to replace printed text into a desired language through a mobile phone's video camera — without a connection to the internet. Google incorporated it into its own Google Translate service.
Good studied at the University of Maryland College Park and was also a co-founder of Secret Level, later called SEGA Studios San Fransico, a game development studio which has been closed since 2010.
Parham Aarabi is the founder and CEO of ModiFace, a provider of augmented reality tech for multiple companies that deals with beauty tech, AR, and AI. The company recently created Sephora's AR beauty app where users can try on different makeup products — without actually trying it on. The company is also working on incorporating live streaming of their AR makeup features and health-related AR tech.
Previously, Aarabi was a professor at the University of Toronto. He holds a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, where the initial research on automatic face analysis for ModiFace began. Aarabi also holds an MASc in Computer Engineering and BASc in Engineering Science from the University of Toronto.
Phil Keslin is a CTO at Niantic. Previously, he was the Senior Staff Software Engineer at Google and a 3D Architect at NVIDIA.
He was also the former CTO at Keyhole, a software company specializing in geospatial data visualization applications acquired by Google for $35 million. Keslin holds an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin and a BA in Computer Science from Southern Methodist University Cox School of Business.
Remi El-Ouazzane is a French-born engineer and pioneer of artificial intelligence technology. He received his Master's in Semiconductor Physics from the Grenoble Institute of Technology, graduated in Economics and Finance from the Grenoble Institute of Political Studies, and graduated Harvard Business School's General Management Program.
Fresh out of the Grenoble Institute of Political Studies, El-Ouazzane accepted a position at Texas Instruments (TI) and quickly rose up the ranks. He was a part of the Broadband Communications Group, Wireless Business Group, and eventually became Vice President and Worldwide General Manager of the Open Multimedia Applications Platform (OMAP) Business Unit.
El-Ouazzane's work on OMAP supported many of the original Android smartphones, such as the Motorola Droid and the Galaxy Nexus, Google and Samsung's joint project. The technology has also been used for robotic technologies as well as in premium automotive platforms.
Most recently, El-Ouazzane was CEO of Movidius, a company that develops special processors for machine vision and deep learning, and who's technology has been featured in products by Google, Lenovo, and DJI. Since Intel acquired Movidius, El-Ouazzane has become Vice President of Intel's New Technology Group and General Manager of Movidius.
Dr. Sung-Hoon Hong is the Vice President of Samsung Electronics who also leads the company's drive towards augmented virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and next generation multimedia technology.
According to his LinkedIn profile, he has various experiences in algorithm research and development, prototype building, product development, object detection and tracking, pattern recognition, 3D reconstruction, machine learning, and sensor signal processing.
Previously, Hong was Chief Vision Tech Architect and Director of the Asian Division at Bent Image Lab. There, he led the development of a lightweight computer vision and compression (CVC) engine which currently is the "most advanced cutting-edge technology to proceed 3D scene estimation and reconstruction from all ... video streams including camera, sensor, and web environments."
Hong received a Master's degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering at Seoul National University, as well as a PhD in Philosophy.
- You can follow Dr. Sung-Hoon Hong on LinkedIn.
Tim Cook is a business executive, industrial engineer, and developer. He also just happens to be the current and seventh CEO of Apple. Previously, Cook served as Apple's COO under founder Steve Jobs. Earlier in Cook's career, he worked in IBM's personal computer business for 12 years, ending his time there as the director of North American fulfillment.
Cook earned a BS in Industrial Engineering from Auburn University and an MBA from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business. Before starting at Apple, Cook worked for Compaq for six months as Vice President for Corporate Materials. His first position at Apple was Senior Vice President for Worldwide Operations.
As for AR, Cook views augmented reality as the next big thing since the smartphone. Currently, Apple has not entered into the AR race, but the rumors of Apple's involvement has been enough to have an effect on the market. This alone justifies Tim Cook being on this list.
Yoni Nevo is the CEO and co-founder of Cimagine Media, which creates augmented reality sales solutions for businesses. It allows customers to visualize products in 3D and AR at the click (or tap) of a button. The cloud-based mobile platform gives retailers and brands a chance to augment store websites, apps, and offline media. Previously, Nevo was the head of solutions business development at ECI Telecom.
He holds an MBA in Marketing and Finance from Tel Aviv University and a BA in Computer Science and Management from Tel Aviv University. Evan Spiegel's Snap bought Cimagine Media for $40 million in 2016.