Phiar - The Road to Autonomy

Augmented Reality: Window To The World

Chen-Ping Yu, Co-Founder & CEO, Phiar joins Grayson Brulte on The Road to Autonomy podcast to discuss why augmented reality is the window to the world.

The conversation begins with Chen-Ping discussing his time at Stony Brook University followed by Harvard. At Harvard, Chen-Ping was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Cognitive and Neural Lab where he studied the brain.

I had the pleasure to work with a group of cognitive and neural scientists to combine what they have learned about the brain with deep-learning computer vision.

– Chen-Ping Yu

It was during his time driving in Boston, that Chen-Ping had an “ah-ha” moment that would lead to the founding of Phiar.

Why couldn’t someone show me my route by overlaying that to the actual camera feed instead of drawing it on a map?

– Chen-Ping Yu

Since no one was doing it, Chen-Ping decided to go for it and solve the problem that he experienced driving in Boston. He set out to build AR navigation.

Phiar was founded in 2017 when VR (virtual reality) was dominating headlines and film studios were building labs to better understand the technology. Consumers were associating Google Glass with AR (augmented reality) leading to a general misunderstanding in the marketplace about what is AR.

Today, a lot has changed. Studios are no longer investing in VR (virtual reality) and companies such as Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google are all rumored to be working on AR products.

Chen-Ping goes onto share his thoughts on the current state of AR and why software combined with hardware is the path forward.

AR is absolutely exciting.

– Chen-Ping Yu

With a clear understanding of software integrated with hardware being the path forward, Chen-Ping decided to focus on the automotive market. Software integrated with hardware is the Apple model.

Grayson asks Chen-Ping what his thoughts are on a possible AR automotive services business for Apple.

People are looking at automotive vehicles as the next big platform for software. Even automotive players are trying to redesign and upgrade their whole architecture into a more software-driven [approach].

– Chen-Ping Yu

Looking to the future, Grayson asks Chen-Ping if Phiar will stay platform-agnostic and what his thoughts are on a potential Phiar App Store. It is possible, but only time will tell.

Shifting the conversation back to services, Grayson talks about why Airbnb will be one of the biggest benefactors of augmented reality in vehicles. In a post-COVID world, there will be a huge demand for experiences. AR will be able to unlock digital experiences that are not possible today. This will create massive new revenue opportunities for companies such as Airbnb.

Wrapping up the conversation, Chen-Ping and Grayson discuss how to make an augmented reality map without pre-mapping and the role that AI plays in enabling AR.

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Recorded on Friday, March 12, 2021