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Augmented Reality actually working

People that know me, know I love technology. We’ve been hearing for many years about Augmented Reality, but many people have no idea what it is. Beginning of this year, as CEO of AceJewelers.com I got confronted with Holition. A company that created an augmented reality tool for trying on jewelry in front of a computer. Today we, at Ace Jewelers, officially launched this tool as the first jeweler in the world. This is the press release we sent out:

Amsterdam/London, October 2009

AUGMENTED REALITY – WORLD FIRST: Try On Virtual Jewelry Online!                 

Ace Jewelers Group is the first online jeweler in the world in which  people can try on jewels virtually via their website using, a revolutionaryAugmented Reality retail tool, Holition . Ace Jewelers presents their own designed jewels through Holition, enabling their clients to try on the jewels online at home

Since the launching of the new website, www.AceJewelers.com, Ace Jewelers has been busy with renewing and improving the site. The collections have recently been extended with luxury sunglasses and the website has been advanced with unique techniques to make the website more customer friendly.

This month Ace Jewelers introduced Holition Augmented Reality on the website, this is a new revolutionary technology, makes it possible to try on your favourite ring or wristwatch in front of a computerorlaptop.

Alon Ben Joseph of Ace Jewelers commented: “Holition allows our clients to explore products by “trying on” the Eternity Pave Ring in a virtual environment. The ability to use the software online is a huge benefit and one which will undoubtedly bring a novel and exciting new experience to Ace clients, and ultimately drive sales. We see this as the future of online retail and are delighted to be one of the first companies exploring this exciting new direction in luxury retail.

3D viewing is made possible in three simple steps:

Print out a paper ring, cut it out, and put it on your finger pointing the paper ring towards a webcam. The camera will then register the item and project the desired ring onto the screen –  you can thenview the model on your hand from different angles.

ACE_try_on_1
Fig. 1. Client trying on the Ace Eternity Pave ring online using Holition

Ace Jewelers Group
Since 1975, Ace Jewelers Group has been one of the most renowned jewelers in Amsterdam and authorised dealer of many major brands. Examples of these include Breitling, Omega, TAG Heuer and IWC.

Ace Jewelers has three physical branches and a eBoutique; One  physical store is situated in the heart of Amsterdam, Ace & Spyer, on the corner of Koningsplein and the Flower Market. The second store, Ace & Dik located on the Van Baerlestraat, has been a jewelry business for more than 70 years. Also located in the heart of Amsterdam is Ace Jewelers, on the Leidsestraat, where mostly trendsetting brands such as TiSento, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana are displayed.

Holition
Holition is a leading provider of online interactive marketing and retail solutions to the jewellery, watch and eyewear markets. Holition has developed a unique virtual reality marketing application for use online, in-store and at live events.

Established in London in January 2008, Holition is a joint venture between pioneering 3D specialists Inition, and Holts Lapidary, UK Jewellery Retailer of the Year 2008.

 

What is luxury?

The E.Factor team has asked me to become a part of the E.Factor Blog Team and blog mainly about luxury goods. Apparently they believe I have interesting views about luxury since I ‘breath and live’ luxury. I literally grew up in my family’s jewelry business. Currently I have the honor to represent our family company, Ace Jewelers Group (www.AceJewelers.com), as the CEO of our retail organization with three physical stores and an international eBoutique.

It is up to you to decide if I have interesting views, in general and especially about luxury. In my previous and first blog posting on E.Factor I tried to give an introduction about myself by posting the Q&A I had with E.Factor. In this post, my second on E.Factor, I want to start a discussion about the definition of ‘luxury’…

… What is luxury? This is a question that I always keep on asking myself and my surroundings, ever since I am a child!

Nowadays we do not use a paper dictionary to find definitions, we search on Wikipedia… Here goes:

“Luxury can refer to several things:

* Luxury good, an economic good for which demand increases more than proportionally as income rises; contrast with inferior good and normal good.
* Luxury tax, a tax on products not considered essential, such as expensive cars
* Luxury tax (sports), a surcharge put on the aggregate payroll of a sports team to the extent to which it exceeds a predetermined guideline level set by the league
* Luxury vehicle, a relatively expensive automobile
* Luxury yacht, a very expensive privately owned yacht which is professionally crewed
* Luxury real estate, a niche real estate market dealing with the highest economic group of property buyers
* Luxury resorts, which are very exclusive vacation facilities
* Luxury box, a term for a special seating section in arenas, stadiums and other sports venues
* Luxury magazine, a magazine devoted to fine craft and luxury goods.”

Mmmm… I am not satisfied. I can distill some keywords from the previous sum-up: high income, non-essential, expensive, niche, exclusive and fine craft.

If we jump to Wiktionary, we find:

“Etymology: Latin luxus “abundant”

luxury (plural luxuries):

1. very wealthy and comfortable surroundings.
2. something desirable but expensive.
3. something very pleasant but not really needed in life.

Antonyms: (dispensable thing): necessity”

Second thing almost everyone does, is Google what we are looking for. If I type ‘luxury’ in Google (with a Dutch IP), the first result is the definition of Wikipedia! Interestingly enough, the second hit is the vague website eLuxury.com, that is owned by LVMH. I write vague, since it was launched as the hallmark of eCommerce of Luxury, but failed heavily. Now it is a vague promotional site for a Twitter page and Facebook page associated to this site. I will come back on eLuxury.ccom, social media and eCommerce in relation to luxury in a following blog post!

Since my childhood I was captured by the question what luxury actually is. As life evolves, ones views and opinions change too… So did my personal view and perception of luxury!

As a child I thought that the most expensive car, home, watch, diamond, etc was ultimate luxury. Of course if you look back on it, growing up in a wealthy western country in a warm and loving home is luxury. As a teenager gaining your own ‘freedom’ and making individual consumption choices of exclusive/non-essential products is often considered luxury. As soon as you start working and make your ‘own’ money, you are confronted how difficult it is to buy ‘luxury’… As Wikipedia states: “Luxury good is an economic good for which demand increases more than proportionally as income rises; contrast with inferior good and normal good.” and this true for a student that starts a company…But when one hits maturity you notice that luxury doesn’t necessarily needs to be linked to money… At a certain moment it can hit you that luxury can be: (free) time, friendships, health, peace, family, etc. Today my short definition of luxury is: “Something that makes one feel ‘rich’ although it does not have to do anything with money.” For example, having a great conversation with a dear friend can be a great sensation of luxury. But, I can not neglect the fact that luxury goods are often synonymous to expensive. Personally I prefer to link luxury goods to fine crafts, art and niche. These terms go hand in hand with scarcity and therefore exclusivity. And, on therefore these two terms are correlated to high prices. As a sales person I always avoid the term ‘expensive’… Everything in life is relative, everything! So, perception of monetary values are and always have been, subjective and relative. And, that is the core of the luxury… Luxury is relative! What can give someone a ‘rich feeling’ can make someone else feel depressed!

My last sentence can be considered bold and I want to give an example: I met enough people who feel richer wearing a Swatch watch compared to people who own more than one Rolex watch! Some goes for women with an engagement ring, the size of the ‘rock’ doesn’t say anything about how much a gentleman loves his wife-to-be! It is all about the story behind the products, events and services. It is all relative! I see it everyday in our stores, therefore we (Team Ace) never judge a guest (we never use the term customers). We facilitate ‘story telling’… Hence our slogan: Add Some ACE To Your Life!

Please share your vision/opinion/views of luxury here as a comment…

 

My first blog post on E.Factor

Last month I have been invited to come and blog on the entrepreneurs network E.Factor about luxury goods. Last year I already entered the team of E.Factor coaches and now I have been invited to blog on the subject I love.

Click here to read the article plus comments or read the first post here below:

“I’ve been a member of E.Factor since the beginning and I was very proud to become a coach on this excellent network website. Last week the E.Factor team asked me to start blogging about luxury… Apparently I have an (interesting) opinion about it 😉
Well, that is up for you to decide…

I will try to blog here at least once a month, my aim is to blog weekly about luxury. I am very excited to get started and am curious what your feedback will be… For now I will start with a classic Q&A.

My Q&A with E.Factor:

Name: Alon Ben Joseph
Year: 1979
Country: The Netherlands
City: Amsterdam

Q: What is entrepreneurship for you?
A: Fun, adventure, top sport and way of living.

Q: What was your dream job when you were a kid?
A: To become a jeweler 🙂

Q: Why and how did you start your company?
A: I rolled into the family business. But during my college years, I also co-founded an internet company.

Q: Is this your first business?
A: No, one of several.

Q: If you were to start another business, what might it be?
A: Consultancy.

Q: What were some of the early companies you worked with?
A: Too many to mention.

Q: What is your definition of success and have you achieved it?
A: A quote by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) comes to mind: “The greater danger of most of us lies not in setting our aim to high and falling short, but in setting too low and achieving our mark.” Success is relative…

Q: Who has influenced you the most and has been your greatest inspiration?
A: Very cliché: my parents.

Q: What advice would you give to people who are thinking of becoming an entrepreneur?
A: The grass is always greener on the other side. Yes, it gives you a lot of freedom, but also a total new set of ‘stress’. At the end the sum should be a plus for you! But, as Nike said it: “Just do it!”

Q: Describe/outline to us what your typical day looks like?
A: A lot of fun, A lot of phone calls, Really a lot of e-mails and creating added value every day!

Q: Do you achieve balance in your life?
A: Never, but it is oooh sooo much fun to find your own limits and push them further.

Q: Where you see yourself and your business in 3 years?
A: Number 1 eCommerce player in the jewelry & watch business.

Q: And as a final question: If we could introduce you to anyone, who would it be and why? (you never know who we know!)
A: Good one! This is a true entrepreneurs question (ask and share)! Love it! I would love to meet Lev Leviev. He is a self-made man that turned the complete diamond industry around. Living legend.

I really liked the last question, to get the discussion going, I want to ask you the same question 🙂

“If we could introduce you to anyone, who would it be and why?”

 

Dutch Watch Heritage

One of the hidden treasures of the Netherlands has come to light today!

DWH

Watches were packed away in boxes, in drawers or safes, or even visible on the wrists of proud owners, but today they can be viewed by all enthusiasts. The Netherlands knows thousands of watch-lovers – People who sometimes have a fortune to spend on just that one special watch –that ultimate wrist–ornament: to possess that wonder of refined mastery! From this inheritance ,the Lexus Dutch Watch Heritage, together with fascinated and passionate watch-lovers, brings this exceptional event. Meant for the collectors who would like to display their treasures and for all others who feel drawn towards the unique world of the quality timepiece.

The Lexus Dutch Watch Heritage gathers together 100 rare or unique watches. These will be exhibited to the public at the Netherlands Gold-, Silver-, and Clock Museum in Schoonhoven on Saturday 27th June and then from Tuesday 30th June up to and including Sunday 5th July. On these days you can visit the exhibition and admire models from top brands such as IWC, Rolex, Breitling, Jaeger Le Coultre and many others. Ace Jewelers will display a number of the latest timepieces next to this wonderful collection. Then you have the opportunity to look at and try the present-day models of IWC, Breitling, Edox, Tag Heuer and Omega. Ace Jewelers shows watches with a long history -for example the IWC Big Pilot, the legendary Breitling Navitimer and also watches with very complex movements like the Edox Minute Repeater. R

eadings on the Sunday give the subject more depth, and a taxation of one’s own watch allows active participation to the event for the watch enthusiast. The Netherlands’ only two honoured taxateurs, Anton Gaemers and Ronny Wooter have given their co-operation to, and will be present during the event. Anton Gaemers, timepiece- technician from the Hague, whose family have been active in chronometry since 1877, is the curator of the exhibition: ‘The Netherlands has probably more than a thousand serious timepiece collectors and it is fantastic to be able to exhibit the most beautiful and unique of this legacy’. Ronny Wooter, watch specialist from Sotheby’s, will share his expertise on taxation, amoung other subjects. Together these two gentlemen will provide lectures about the history and value of watches. Ace Jewelers will also provide a reading about watches and contemporary models. In short, an exhibition full of narratives, romance and craftsmanship.

Every watch has a story: the history of its origin, the specialities of the subject, the history of the brand and not forgetting the story behind the owner of the watch. Not only inspired timepiece technicians, but also pilots, racing-drivers, filmstarsand aspiring rivalling magnates figure in the story of watches. The exhibition is open to the public on Saturday 27th June, 2009 and from Tuesday 30 June up to and including 5th July 2009. The entrance fee is EUR 6,- p.p.

Nederlands Goud, Zilver en Klokkenmuseum
Kazerneplein 4
2871 CZ Schoonhoven
The Netherlands

www.DutchWatchHeritage.nl

 

Cool Music Clip: Oren Lavie

I haven’t seen such a cool music video in a long time, I had to share it with you:

Her Morning Elegance” by Oren Lavie

Wikipedia states about Oren Lavie:

“Oren Lavie spent his youth in Israel.In 1997 his play Sticks and Wheels and his production of it were awarded the main prizes at the Acco Festival of Alternative Israeli Theatre. The production played in Tel Aviv during 1998. In that year he went to London to study theatre directing at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). After his graduation two of his plays were produced in various London theatres. They already contained several songs written and composed by him.

In 2001 Oren Lavie moved to New York where he tried to make a living by means of various jobs and where he focused on writing songs. When they had piled up he went to Berlin (2003) and started to do recordings, working as his own producer. His first album, The Opposite Side of the Sea, was completed in 2006; it was released in Europe in January and February 2007. In 2009, his stop motion style music video, “Her Morning Elegance,” achieved significant popularity on YouTube,receiving over 4 million hits.

Oren Lavie names his musical predecessors as Tom Waits, Jacques Brel, and Leonard Cohen. At the core of his melody-oriented compositions there is always the piano or the guitar with his singing, enriched by string arrangements (cello solo, quartet, chamber orchestra) and various, mainly non-electronical instruments added occasionally, giving each of the songs a unique style and color.

Also check out Lavie’s own website: OrenLavie.com