the team: Local developers of 360 Carnival and Explore T&T Leslie Sweetman, Ameer Al-Jaleel and Brent Webster. —Photos by Verdel Bishop and also courtesy Ameer Al-Jaleel

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Enjoy Carnival anywhere you are

By Verdel Bishop verdel.bishop@trinidadexpress.com

So, You've just found out that you may have to miss out on Carnival 2013 for whatever reason, be it travel for work or exams to study for that will have you inside behind the books. No problem. There is a way to at least enjoy some of the festivities through the information superhighway. Yes, it may not be the same as being in the midst of the action in the fetes and on the road come Monday and Tuesday, but you can still have some fun, virtual Gangnam style.

With technology constantly uprading you can now have another option to experience the greatest show on earth through a new platform that offers an opportunity to see Carnival unfurl at any angle. It's called Carnival 360 Degree.  The technology utilises 360 Degree Augmented Reality Technology and is a new form of digital media that can be available via your smart phone or computer. The 360 degree video captures all the action going on around the camera, whereas a typical lens captures what your eyes see while staring straight ahead.

Am-In Motion the local developers of the software has partnered with Immersive Media, the pioneer and world leader in the creation and distribution of 360-degree interactive videos, to come up with 360 Carnival with an aim to brand TT Carnival. Developer of Carnival 360 Degree and president of Am-In Motion, Ameer Al-Jaleel, said Carnival and other events can now be viewed through the technology that not only captures mundane video but everything there is to see in a full 360 degree range. Carnival 360 Degree, Al-Jeelel said is the ultimate virtual live experience.

According to Al-Jaleel There are no seams or overlays because everything is captured simultaneously in a single 360 degree framed shot. This affords the user an experience like no other, providing viewers the ability to choose what they want to watch at any time.

"It's a feeling of being in the heart of the action. 360 Augmented Reality video engages the viewer into the scene, surrounding the viewer with images displayed in every direction providing a compelling experience and a new level of interaction. Users would be able to experience this via personal computers or tablets and smart phones," Al-Jaleel said.

360 Degree technology has surfaced at a time when branding TT Carnival is imperative. Another programme Al-Jaleel is excited about is an interactive website called Explore T&T, which he said will enhance TT's tourism drive. The webiste will also encompass the 360 Degree Augmented Reality feature. Al-Jaleel said when it comes to branding TT Carnival, traditional media has lagged behind.

"TT has long been on the drive for branding Carnival. Every year we do the same formula in terms

of traditional media; why are we still pushing so much if we are doing it every year and not getting results? A lot of countries are moving forward in terms of branding and they are looking at the 360 Degree niche market because Augmented Reality makes the difference. We are competing against other islands and every other big conglomerate. Places like Dubai, Indonesia and Australia are capitalising on this technology. Various islands have approached us but we are the Caribbean partners for Immersive Media so we intended for the programme to be the catalyst for TT," Al-Jaleel said. 360 Degree Augmented Reality technology has promoted the world's largest brands such as MTV, Intel, Red Bull, Xbox, Disney, Nike, Virgin Airways, CNN, CBS, NASA, Mercedes Benz and Black Eyed Peas. It has even gone as far as helping troops in the US Army. "This is paving the way for a new form of digital media.Video is shot with a 12 lens high definition specially engineered camera. With millions of visitors coming to the island and billions of people travelling each year, Explore TT and 360 Augmented Reality is going to generate greater interest in what TT has to offer," Al-Jaleel noted. He said the new technology will allow millions of people around the world to witness Carnival for the first time with live streaming. "We are guaranteed to reach 50 to 100 million people through live streaming on 360 Augmented Reality which is beyond anything TT has ever achieved," Al-Jaleel said.  When it comes to branding TT, Al-Jaleel noted that various tourism web sites have not reached their millionth viewing. Al-Jaleel intends to top that through 360 Degree technology.  "You have the government spending millions of dollars on marketing strategies like newspapers and magazine but these strategies have not been successful in getting the figures 360 Augmented Reality can achieve. When it comes to tourism we are behind the other islands. You can go online and search the Caribbean the first thing a foreigner picks up is Barbados and Jamaica and the other islands. TT will be the first country in the world to take such a forward initiative towards global branding through Explore TT. Once we capture the exquisite Carnival experience and island attractions, the global attention spanned from this project intends to heavily impact on tourism,"Al-Jaleel said. Al-Jaleel is in talks with government and various Carnival stakeholders to utilise Carnival 360 and Explore TT to boost tourism productivity. He said the push is not just for tourism. Other sectors will benefit as well. "We want the government to partner with us. This is a product which was on bid for the entire Caribbean but because it was designed by our company in partnership with Immersive Media, we are using TT as the main focus. We are going to get it off the ground and TT is the best market to do this. TT is more diverse than other countries. We have a very diverse economy. The global attention spanned from this project intends also to heavily impact on the tourism, trade and creative sectors of TT; you name it maritime, oil and entertainment will all benefit," Al-Jaleel said. The 360 Degree free app for smart phones, Al-Jaleel said, would also minimise various inconveniences and issues which may occur during Carnival. International app developers and engineers have been recruited to enhance the experience with the further development of the 360 Degree Mobile Application. According to Al-Jaleel, "Users will not only have an option to live stream an event but based on an effective geo-tagging technology, the app will also function as a key access point to local services, information about points of interest and a uniquely engineered embedded social media platform to interact and connect with friends. The built in safety and management features will increase the level of public security with prompt response times to threats and visibility of overall situation by users and officials," Al-Jaleel said. For a demo of 360 visit am-inmotion.com/360.

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