The origin of the idea
5 years ago when Alex was passing a building he got a whimsical idea suddenly: "it must be very fun if I can virtually paste a huge picture or put a huge display to show my video on the wall of the building" . He evaluated the existing technical at that time, found that GPS-based positioning technology accuracy is far less than the requirements, and he gave up the idea. With the rapid development and popularization of VR / AR technology in recent years, it was found that this idea inadvertently entered the field of AR, in line with the trend of the times. With the development of computer vision technology, the recognition and tracking technology based on graphical markup is becoming more and more mature, and this idea already has the technical means to realize. So Alex re-picks up the idea. With four months of coding, the idea becomes a working prototype called Tetragram.
Microsoft, Google, HTC as the representative of the Internet hardware and software giants are promoting a technology revolution. VR / AR technology will change people's lives, bring the next industrial upgrading, bringing countless new opportunities for innovators. AR technology can combine digital information with the physical world in accordance with the intuition of human beings, Alex think that compare to VR technology which makes people isolate from the real world , AR application is more practical and more close to people's lives. And relative to the hot VR field , currently the AR technology is in a very early stage, leaving more opportunity for small innovators.
Tetragram is a typical application of AR technology that identifies and tracks QR code in a mobile phone camera preview. As the result the three-dimensional position of the surface on which the QR code is printed in a real environment such as a wall or a table, is calculated, and then a digital picture is positioned on the calculated position which makes the user looks as if there is really a picture posted on the wall. Simply put, Tetragram is a small tool that leverages AR technology to allow users virtually post a picture to a real-world wall with a mobile phone. This tool is never had before, it is giving people a new ability. Just like when telephone is invented, people can talk with others in thousands of miles away; When Twitter borns, people can tell their points to the world anytime anywhere.
Ok, we now have a new tool, but what can this tool be used to do for us in the earth? To be frank, Alex does not have the answer too, it is still in the exploratory stage. Alex just feel that it brings infinite possibilities. It is like a piece of wasteland was covered with a lawn, attracting a lot of people through here, when some places are frequently walked, the lawn appears traces, then we just lay the slate at the trail, a road is built, although before we do not Know where to pave the way.
Here are some examples of application scenarios:
* Social for fun, such as create a birthday card picture for girlfriend, and then virtually post it to the the wall of the girlfriend's favorite McDonald's , message her to install Tetragram and go to the McDonald's to find a surprise.
* Geocaching, in a variety of buildings or natural environment, virtually post treasure hunt map and find the map with Tetragram, follow the prompts to find the next target until approach the final goal.
In addition to virtually posting pictures, in the future will support posting text, videos, three-dimensional models and even small interactive games, which will bring more application scenarios, such as comments on product packaging, virtual video advertising on the door of a store.
We need a group of test users to help us find more interesting and useful scenarios, and then we will optimize the software for that usage.
Features and competitive advantage
Compared to some of the existing AR products, Tetragram has two main features:
The first feature is it's based on standard QR code. The core of AR technology lies in the identification and tracking of real objects. There are two main technical solutions, one is based on specific markups, such as Vuforia Vumark and some children's education software, they print the markups or graphics on the surface of the book in advance, when mobile device camera scan and identify the markup or graphic, the prepared 3D animation is positioned on the graphic plane for playback. This solution requires specific pre-printed graphic items, obviously not the common users can do, only applies to a small number of businesses.
The second is real-time modeling technology without markup, such as Microsoft's Hololens, the three-dimensional positioning of this technology is more accurate and do not need to prepare in advance, you can achieve very realistic results. But the need for dedicated hardware, high cost, is not conducive for popularization.
Tetragram is also a markup-based AR technology, but can identify the ubiquitous QR code, do not need to prepare in advance, is very conducive to the promotion and popularization.
The second feature is user-create-content. Currently the largest AR products on the market, such as Layar AR browser are based on some specific markups, and the content is provided by the limited number of cooperation business, users can only browse the pre-made content, and can not create their own content. While Tetragram gives users the ability to create content and share content at lowest cost. The difference between Tetragram and Layar , is similar to the difference between Twitter and BBC news.
Tetragram can take advantage of the existing QR code and take UGC as the core characteristics, making it has no real competitors in the current market.
Currently Tetragram is only capable for posting pictures. Alex's vision for the product is far beyond this. Tetragram will become the connector of real world and virtual world with content repository.
Tetragram's ultimate goal is to make AR technology universal to every ordinary users, so the product will provide the following features and functions:
1, the lowest user cost in the AR industry. It makes use of mobile phones and other mobile devices as the carrier, providing pure software solutions. And makes full use of the existing QR code, not to publish self-defined markup format in early stage.
2, to support rich media types. Will gradually support the text, animation, video, 3D models, games and other digital content, make them connect with the real world.
3, to provide rich and easy to use tools for ordinary users, so that they can easily create all kinds of digital content used to virtual posting to the real world. That way Tetragram will develop into a content repository.
4, to develop an open platform, so that third-party developers can participate in the development of a variety of virtual content creation tools, as the result ordinary users can create content more easily and efficiently .
5, to support the mainstream AR hardware. Such as AR glasses as Hololens.
6, in addition to QR code, to provide more AR identification and tracking methods, such as more types of bar code, face recognition, object recognition.
In the long run, Tetragram will be the same as other VR / AR platforms, becoming the connector of the virtual world and the real world . The difference is the path to achieve this goal.
A product is always growing with its users, and change with the market environment changes, so making a plan for next one year is meaningless. What we can determine is the direction of the move, the plan of next three months and development strategies.
The first step is to find a group of test users, to gather their feedback for the prototype and learn their behavior patterns, to find the most suitable scenario for the current product, takes about 1 month;
The second step is optimize the product based on the chosen scenario, define the target users, and promote the product to them, takes about 2 months.
The third step is keep discover new application scenarios and optimize product functionality accordingly;
The fourth step is to expand the user base, establish brand and influence;
The fifth step is to gradually add new virtual content types and corresponding authoring tools;
The next is to provide an open platform, support more hardware. Will make appropriate plan when it is the time. Of course, at the same time we will looking for investment, build the team and company culture.
For such an innovative product, the business model is clearly too early to determine at the moment. However Alex has some rough ideas, such as:
* Paid value-added services, charge for some of the advanced features or additional usage.
* When business began to use this software to increase its value, charge them for service fees;
* Provide trading platform for some high quality user generated content, gathering transaction commission;
Competition and cooperation
As mentioned earlier, there is no similar product on the market to compete. But in the long run, it will compete for the user's time and attention with some AR browser products. Our competitive strategy is very simple, through the UGC and open platform, allowing users and third-party developers to help us add product value and competitiveness.
We and some low-level AR technology providers and AR hardware providers are of upstream and downstream relationship in the same industry chain, will form a good cooperation and win-win model, and jointly expand the AR industry market size.
Currently Tetragram is setting up a founding team, if you love the Internet, software, AR, and appreciate the idea of Tetragram, welcome to join the team as a co-founder.
The requirements of the co-founder are independent entrepreneurship or joint entrepreneurial experience, self-motivated, self-responsible, not limited to their own profession of work, have the ability to learn quickly, long-term, able to accept low salaries or even unpaid work, and need full-time participate.
When our financing is successful, we will recruit more early employees to join, providing no less than the industry average salary and options. Currently need 2 full-stack software engineers , the need for skills stack is Android, computer vision, OpenGL, Linux, Apache, Mysql, Rails. If you have the confidence to quickly master these skills and other new skills, welcome to join us.
We need 1 growth hacker, who make use of scientific marketing tools, quantitative analysis methods to promote the growth of users base, and guide the evolution of the product.
If you love our business and want to work with us, but for some reason can not meet the co-founder and early staff requirements, it does not matter, you can contact us, let us find a way of cooperation that we can both be satisfied with .
At present, Tetragram is looking for angel round investment, the capital required is about 500K USD, for about 10% of the share. The fund utilization plan is to maintain a team of about four people and product operation for about 18 months. The goal is to develop the product to a certain maturity, make the brand has a certain influence in the industry, to achieve the A round of financing standards.
We believe that corporate culture is a prerequisite to create a strong executive team and keep the company and products competitive. Founder Alex is a software engineer with many years of experience, a geek and serial internet entrepreneur
, which decided Tetragram's corporate culture will have a strong technical and geek color, but will not ignore the importance of business thinking and marketing.
Our company, with innovation as the core values, never do imitation without thinking, try to avoid the crowd, believe that each path of business success is unique and can not be copied, need to explore by itself;
Our team management will always looking for openness and efficiency. We believe that everyone's opinion has a unique value worth listening and respect, and believe that diversity will bring about progress. We will only recruit enthusiastic team members, pursuit self-management driven by enthusiasm, do not encourage work overtime, do not implement KPI assessment, just look at the results instead of the process. We hope that the team will be able to complete the task faster by increasing the work efficiency rather than simply increasing the working hours.
We hope that the staff not only love the work but also have a wonderful and healthy life. In order to achieve this goal, At the same time the company in the pursuit of commercial success , will strive to achieve remote working, loose management, create fitness atmosphere and welfare.
Starting a business is a marathon rather than a one hundred meter race, and we want to be able to work every day with energy and happiness.
Founder Alex Liao, has twenty years of experience in software development, entrepreneurial experience in the past ten years, working experience in Ufida software, Microsoft, Sybase . The main venture works:
Swably - Android App sharing community
Reindeer - the easy to use internet accelerate tool
Tetrahedron address book (WeChat service) - make address book of thousands people in one day
Tetragram - hack the world
For more information, please visit Alex's LinkedIn