When it comes to Augmented Reality on smartphones, you’ve essentially got two options: A standalone mobile app or a Lens/Camera Effect for Snapchat and Facebook. Both have their pros and cons.

Virtual me, in my kitchen

Augmented Reality Apps vs. Effects

Standalone AR apps can be impactful. You have the full power of a high-end smartphone with constraints bounded only by the engine or native SDK used. However, I’m not enthusiastic about developing mobile apps in general. This is because user acquisition is a huge expense, and establishing virality on social networks is a barrier. …


Ever since developing last year’s Holographic Easter Egg Hunt with Microsoft for VRLA, I’ve been interested in creating location-based VR and AR experiences. These are cool projects to me since you can build hardware specific to the experience, design software for one fixed hardware configuration, and really go wild within the constraints of your budget, location, and audience. Plus, there’s the additional challenge of keeping the event profitable based on the number of customers you can run through the exhibit per hour.

Throughout the past year, I’ve managed to try most major location-based VR experiences. After finally trying The VOID…


I haven’t written a post in awhile. Over the past 6 months, I’d try to pontificate on the topic of Augmented Reality but some major new development would always occur. I have a bunch of scrapped posts sitting in Google Drive that are now totally irrelevant. Cruising through December, I figured the coast was clear. I was considering writing a dull year in review post when the final paradigm shift occurred with Snap’s release of Lens Studio. So, let’s try and get this out before it’s obsolete!

The Return of Smartphone AR

Smartphone AR is definitely back. After Apple’s announcement, everyone wanted to talk about…


I told you not to do it.

But suddenly my 2013 blog post about displaying maps in Unity3D is now my top page of the month. There are lots of Pokemon Go clones being built right now.

Well, if you absolutely insist, here’s how I’d go about it.

Step 1: Raise tons of money

You’re going to need it. And it’s not just for user acquisition. You’ll need a lot of dry powder for scaling costs in the unlikely event this game is as successful as you’ve claimed to your investors. …


Pokemon Go is a watershed moment in gaming. I’ve never seen a game have this much traction this fast. My neighborhood is filled with wandering players of all demographics, strolling around with phone in hand looking for Pokemon. Since the game’s launch, everyday has looked like Halloween without the costumes.

In general, the job of a venture capitalist is really easy. For most, you simply wait around for another firm to invest in something and then add to that round. Or, you can wait for something to be really successful and cultivate clones of it. …


Microsoft has been holding a series of hackathons for their new HoloLens platform in a number of cities across the US. I couldn’t make it to the original event in Seattle, but managed to compete in HoloHacks Los Angeles at the Creative Technology Center downtown.

The event went from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon, concluding with final presentations and the judges awarding prizes to the winning apps. My team’s app, “A Day at the Museum,” won the visual design prize with a mixed reality replacement for museum audio tour earpieces.

The event worked like most hackathons I’ve attended–Come up…


A few years back I wrote this post on why the Gear VR is the most important wearable in the universe. Since then, Gear VR has grown to have over a million active users a month, developers are earning healthy revenue from VR applications, and an entire industry has spawned around mobile VR. Google’s Daydream will expand high fidelity mobile VR beyond just Samsung devices and create a larger opportunity for VR developers everywhere.

Now, In 2016 there’s a new bearer of this title: HoloLens.

HoloLens represents a huge advance for Augmented Reality. This isn’t just the age-old trick of…


I recently played The Beginner’s Guide after buying it during the annual Holiday Steam Sale over the break. It’s a quick play through, and an interesting way to tell a story within a game. Without giving too much away, the experience reminded me of a similar event in my young-adulthood–When I encountered an amazing game developer who created incredible works I couldn’t hope to match. I’ve since forgotten his real name and don’t know much about him. But I do have the 4 double-sided floppy disks he sent me of all his games at the time.

Madsoft 1–4, recovered in…


Sort of.

The most entertaining part of the Flappy Bird saga is watching the VC-backed cokeocracy go insane with conspiracy theories and wild speculation about how Dong Nguyen topped the App Store with such a seemingly ridiculous game.

Flappy Bird is a worldwide cultural phenomenon regardless of how it got there. It’s easy to see why this is such a shock to the Silicon Valley establishment. Despite millions of dollars gaming start-ups dump into slick production values, user acquisition, and PR, success is not guaranteed. This black swan event shows it’s virtually impossible to eliminate even a reasonable amount of risk in entertainment investments.

Blog posts are still being written about what we can “learn” about Flappy Bird’s design, but you probably won’t replicate it via analysis. The main thing to take away from the Flappy Bird saga is to expect the unexpected.

Ralph Barbagallo

GO BUY DEMON’S TILT! www.demonstilt.com

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