Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 23rd 2017 Contents FEBRUARY 23 • 2017 guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
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reality to T&T
Picture reading your newspapers,
but seeing the story as it's seen
on television even though you
are in front of the newspapers
and not in front of the televi-
sion. It is called augmented
reality and entrepreneur Keith Laban wants
to offer it to T&T.
According to Laban, how augmented real-
ity works is that the individual must have the
App downloaded on their phone. Once the
App has been activated it is then placed over
the headlines and this enables the reader to
see the story in a video format as it is seen on
television. It is not only for the newspaper in-
dustry, but for greeting cards, furniture stores,
real estate---almost anything that can be seen,
felt or touched.
Laban---who is a 2014 recipient of the i2i
(Ideas to Innovation) award and grant---spoke
to Business Guardian last Tuesday about his
new venture. He was interviewed at the Trinity
College East Secondary School where he has
been teaching information technology for the
last 15 years.
The i2i award/programme was first started
under the People's Partnership government
and was launched by the Council for Compet-
itiveness and Innovation. The award provides
an opportunity for potential entrepreneurs and
inventors to submit proposals for innovative
ideas to eventually be turned into businesses.
For the Idea to Innovation project, he de-
veloped an augmented reality reading and
Now, with a team of 10 people including
developers from India and directors from T&T,
Laban is the founder and main developer of
the App, called Startl and his company called
Startl Augmented and Virtual Reality Solu-
The team took two months to create the
App, but registering the company, though,
took some time because what he is offering
was considered to be new and therefore, he had
to answer many questions about the nature
of his business.
"Most of the time, the back and forth (to
Companies Registry) was explanation letters
on the concept of the business itself. When
I worded the (explanation letters) using the
standard wording, Augmented and Virtual
reality that wasn't helping really. They still
didn't understand. They wanted me to break
it down to explain what the company really
does or offers."
What is clear, he said, is that it is a plat-
form for augmented reality where companies
can either create the content to market their
business or Startl can create the content for
them in 3-D.
While augmented reality and virtual reality
are not popular in T&T, international compa-
nies such as Pepsi and Coca-Cola as well as
Facebook use augmented reality technology in
their branding and marketing strategy he said.
In a mid-2016, Forbes magazine published
an article about the seven technology trends
that will dominate 2017; Augmented Reality
and Virtual Reality were highlighted as types
of technology which are likely to be used on
an increased basis in 2017.
With augmented reality a video or 3-D im-
age can be attached, Laban said.
"Augmented and Virtual Reality are the next
big things that are coming because so many
things can be done with it to promote a product
or message. In the newspapers, instead of just
having static print advertisements you can
Asked how he met the developers from In-
dia, even though he is based in T&T he said,
"Through attending the Microsoft conferences
I met people and was able to network there
also. Online, I met programmers as well."
In 2016, the Ministry of Education held
its annual Information Communication and
Technology in Education competition. The
competition recognised the use of ICT in edu-
cation. Microsoft is the sponsor for the event.
Laban was the 2016 first place winner in the
Innovative use of ICT for secondary school
Asked about the availability of skilled labour
in T&T especially in information technology,
"In some of the demos on augmented reality,
we use a lot of 3-D and we don't really have
people down here that could do 3-D program-
ming, it is very rare. I had some students in
the past who I was training and one of them
is one of the main 3-D specialists in T&T. It's
a rare skill."
Referring to the concept of augmented re-
ality in relation to his new venture, Laban said
he has been researching it since 2014.
"When I attended the Microsoft in Educa-
tion Global Forum in Barcelona, the project I
presented was an Augmented Reality Project
highlighting how students can have virtual
field trips in the classroom without actually
going on the field trip. Teachers can actually
walk in the classroom with a virtual volcano."
From catalogues to brochures, to call cards
can be done in augmented reality, he said.
Quoting the Forbes magazine article, he said
augmented reality is projected to be a US$220
billion industry globally by 2020.
Laban who is not deterred by the recession in
T&T said now is the time to invest and there-
fore he wants to capitalise on the opportunity
to bring augmented reality and virtual reality
to this part of the world.
For the 44-year-old being an entrepreneur
means moulding a business and being an ed-
ucator means moulding a young person and
the both roles come naturally for the Arima
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