CyberExtruder, a 3-D biometrics company, has developed a computer software program that will allow cell phone users to pass a cyber baton through their mobile telephones. The baton will feature a 3-D animated photograph of them. Samsung Electronics Europe will employ the technology in a cell phone relay race running May 17 to July 31, 2004, in tandem with the Summer Olympics in Greece. Cell phone users in England, Germany, France, Spain, Greece and Italy will have access to the fun.
“Most all of us would like to see ourselves as characters in movies or on television or on our cell phones. This is what the Cyber Relay is all about” said Larry Gardner, CEO of CyberExtruder.
The young software development company is located in the Enterprise Development Center, a business incubator program, at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). Cyber-Extruder www.cyberextruder.com uses a core technology enabling the automatic conversions of 2D facial images (such as a passport photos) to life-like biometrically and forensically accurate 3D models of the subjects’ faces or heads. The technology has applications in the entertainment and security industries.
Personalizing cyberspace has become a major business thrust for companies like Samsung, said Gardner. Datamonitor plc (DTM.L), a premium business information company specializing in industry analysis, recently forecast that personalization revenues will exceed $2.1 billion in 2005, up from $524 million in 2001.
Since the 1950s, the technology has been available for people to see and project themselves live while talking on a telephone. “But most people don’t want to have to shave or make up before the call comes in.,” said Gardner. “What people do like, however, is to send a 3-D representation of themselves—maybe even a cartoon likeness--through a telephone.”
In more advanced cellular markets, such as Asia, gaming revenues are substantial and personalization of cellular communications and SMS messages are already very popular. A recent survey by Japan's premier mobile communications company, NTT DoCoMo, showed that about 30 percent of users in Asia cited the ability to see the other party in conversation a top desire.
Last year, a promotion by Samsung also using CyberExtruder technology proved the point even better. A giant cell phone was driven around cities in Europe. Photographs were taken of people with the latest Samsung call phone and the subjects were told to come to the Samsung mobile website to collect photographs of themselves made up as their favorite character from the film Matrix Reloaded.
“In a promotion such as this one, an advertiser might have expected a two or three percent response rate,” said Gardner. “After all people had to go home and remember to visit the Samsung website. But the overall response rate turned out to be 9 percent and topped 18 percent in the United Kingdom. That promotion led to the current cyber relay.
In the latest relay, competitors pass the baton from friend to friend. The concept is reminiscent of the old-fashioned chain-letter idea. When 20 teammates have completed the relay, they record their time and can then view their relay statistics on a scoreboard hosted by Samsung at www.SamsungMobile.com).
“I’m excited about this project” Gardner said. “People are inherently social. Most of us want and need personal interaction on a regular basis. We get confirmation of this every time we do a demonstration. We draw a crowd every time.”