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That's Augmented Reality with Zappar!

Instructional designer Mike Peacock joins me to discuss the ways his company has used augmented reality as both a marketing and training tool. We geek out about audio production, Zappar's new AR headset, the ZapBox, and the challenge of learning development applications like Unity. Mike also shares his personal philosophy to "focus on the art of possibility" and how that applies to trying out new things, including new technologies.

You can connect with Mike on LinkedIn.


The following transcript was auto-generated and may contain typos or spelling errors.

Leslie Early 0:00

Okay, I am super excited today to have my friend and fellow instructional designer Mike peacock here with me. Thank you for joining me, Mike.

Mike Peacock 0:09

Thank you. Good to be here.

Leslie Early 0:11

So we met through learner Palooza kind of like threw together this hire me portfolio review. And it was like really fun and super successful. So that was really awesome that you donated your time and you were helping people out with their portfolios.

Mike Peacock 0:26

Oh, it's great. I mean, the fates came together and and I was put into you're asked to join your the talk there. It was awesome. It was great to get to know you and get to know everyone involved, and especially the ones that were, I guess brave enough to face their fears to present their portfolio for some for some feedback, which we both know is a challenging position to be in.

Leslie Early 0:50

Yeah,it can be a little bit nerve wracking. I think that that was Naya and Cheryl, I believe were the our volunteers. And they both posted about and said how nervous they were. So I'm so happy that they agreed to do that. And I think they did get a lot of you guys did provide a lot of good feedback for them. So yeah, that was awesome. So through that, I kind of got to know you a little bit and know that you have an audio video production kind of background as well, right?

Mike Peacock 1:15

Yes, I do. I've been doing it for I don't know, 20 years or so as an audio engineer, and video editor. In the world of music and and also video, I do a lot of post production fixing a video and adding in sound effects and music and that kind of stuff.

Leslie Early 1:35

So is that something you studied? Like? Did you go to school for that, or you just kind of fell into it?

Mike Peacock 1:39

I kind of fell into it. I went to school originally for psychology, and then a buddy of mine play guitar. So I went home and said, Mom, I want to be a musician. And she's like, well, you don't play it instruments. And I was like, Yeah, whatever. I'll figure it out. Details Come on. So I switched my major and got a double major in music, composition and psychology. So I can write you an opera and know why that you don't like it comes in handy. And then as my years in music, I stumbled into you know, recording and in recording studios and stuff going, Hey, this is really cool. So that's how I kind of fell into it. And this is all dating myself before the age of internet. So if I want to learn something, I had to go and actually do it. So I was in studios a lot hanging out with producers and asking a lot of questions. And the rest is history, I guess.

Leslie Early 2:36

Yeah, and I don't know if I ever mentioned this anywhere. But I went to school for audio production at Emerson College. So they're like a big film school, but they have this like redheaded stepchild program called the audio radio program. So I was in that one, but I thought it was gonna go into the music business. But after I graduated, I went to New York, and interviewed a couple different record labels and was just like, not feeling it not feeling the vibe. And it just was like, put me off and yeah, so that my dream of being in the music business never really panned out. But here I am making a podcast using all those skills that I learned so right. So yeah, that's super cool. That's why when I saw your profile, I was like, Oh, another audio guy. I should talk to him. I should definitely talk to him.

Mike Peacock 3:24

I'm sure we have much to discuss. Yeah.

Leslie Early 3:27

Andthe other thing that I thought was interesting is that you're kind of in this AR VR xR kind of world right now. Yeah. So what are you doing there? Because that's also something I'm super interested in. I'm trying to learn unity and try to kind of get into it a little bit, but such a big learning curve. So I'm just kind of overwhelmed.

Mike Peacock 3:51

I figured I figured after Pro Tools, I can do anything, but I was wrong. Unity is out there, man. How I got into AR was about two years ago, I started with a company that I'm with now called aristocrat technologies. We are based in Las Vegas, originally in Australia base as well. But we are a slot machine, retail company, we make slot machines. And so I got into AR through them. They had someone that did augmented reality, but he wasn't it wasn't going as far as it should have. And then he left and no one picked it up. So I said well, I'll do it. And so I just dove right into it just like everything else. And it is so we've been implementing it into our trainings and stuff. And it's I think it's been really well i think the response has been really well with the buy in from the company and, and the students and so much.

Leslie Early 4:48

I was gonna say how so I'm just I know there's applications for how you can use this in like the instructional design world but like, how is your company if you're allowed to say how are you using this technology?

Mike Peacock 5:00

There's a lot of platforms for creating augmented reality, we use a company called zapper. And it's just user friendly. My hero in the AR world is Betty. So if you ask Betty Taylor Mike sent you that he didn't do it, she is awesome. We use it for kind of the form we use for simulations. So you would scan the QR code, and it would pop up on your phone. And if anyone doesn't know about augmented reality, it's kind of like a QR code, but with so many more dimensions to it. And we would go in and after a lesson or something, we would zap the code and you would go into a simulation, and you would go in and you would kind of like, you know, choose your own adventure kind of thing. And, and that way you can use what you just learned from the manual or from the, from the from the lesson into, you know, what's the right answer? What's the wrong answer? And or what's what would happen if I do this? And which, you know, we vary, sometimes not a good thing to do in the field to do wrong.

Leslie Early 6:07

Yeah. Right.

Mike Peacock 6:10

So we've been using it for that we use it we, we started using it as a marketing campaign. So what we did is we have new slot machine cabinets that come out. And what we did, what I did is I put a zapper code on a poker chip. And what we would do is we would give them out to our customers. And on the zapper code would be certain basic instructions. If you know, printer jams, this is what would happen. We would put our marketing campaign on their direct link connection to our support team, and a bunch of other little tidbits in there. But the customers loved them, because no one else has ever done it. And so for every new cabinet, we would do a different color poker chip. So eventually, you know, you start to collect the click the series.

Leslie Early 6:54

That's amazing. And I've did want to backup I didn't want to introduce you but yes, I actually seen Betty's course on elearning launch. She has a intro to AR course on there. And I started poking around in there. And I also saw found zapper through that. Yeah, and that's what really got me interested. So I have been playing around in sapper. And they have zap studio, which is an and I'm like going on a tangent now. But they also have they're releasing this zap box. Have you sandbox? They're doing the they're doing a new fundraiser right now through what is that called? Kickstarter? Kickstarter, Kickstarter? Yeah. And they're, and I'm like, I so really want to get my hands on like the developer, they have like a developer bundle. So you can like, that's why I'm like, Oh, I need to learn unity. So anyway, that was a big long time. But I love the fact that the poker chips are such a perfect marker because they're round, like the zapper codes and like, I love that that's so such great integration with like, a real world object and, and the code, you know,

Mike Peacock 8:02

Yeah, and yeah, I mean, I love zapper. I'm getting into the studio part of it. But you know, it's like writing code. Yes. I'll mastered the design part first, and then, yes, wander into the uncharted waters there. But that's actually how Betty and I met. We met at a ATD TK conference last year. And I told her about that, and we just kind of hit it off from there. But yeah, we use them for that we use them for in our manuals. Safety, we actually Well, we put zapper codes inside the our trucks. So if someone doesn't know how to put the diesel and the additive fuel, and they can do a zapper code and know how to do it. Wow, I created a zapper code for a map of our building when we used to actually go to buildings. So you would zap it at this one location and it would take you to HR it would take you to the mailroom. It would take you to the training room and and where the coffee is, of course, and but you could just do it right on your phone for people that are new to the building or didn't know how to get around with just zap the code and then they would know where to go.

Leslie Early 9:14

That's so cool. Yeah, wow, you're making my brain exploded. But it's so it sounds like now your company sort of has like that. It's starting to develop that culture of like looking for the zapper code or like looking for maybe there's some augmented reality Help Desk basically it sounds like that they can look for that's so cool.

Mike Peacock 9:36

And you're absolutely right. I mean it is by in it took a while for us to do it within our training classes within the onboarding that we use these things called zapper so zap it and you know and and so then we would show them where they are around the brown the building when we again used to go to buildings. And just more of the information we're working on a couple couple things with with that codes and more interactive type stuff. But once they're aware of it just like, you know, QR codes, they're they're not afraid to zap them. They're not afraid to download another app. I mean, we all have hundreds of apps anyway. And but it's been, it's been pretty interesting.

Leslie Early 10:16

So the cool thing about zapper is that they have made it free, like the app is free. Yes, a little codes are not expensive. I think you get five, five for free. And then it's like a certain cost after that.

Mike Peacock 10:29

Yeah, that's um, and that's how I started it. I before I even knew he had been had an account with it is I would, you know, sign up, do the five free, I think you can buy another something for like $10 or something, or it wasn't not expensive. The app itself is free. And now they have a web version of the app. So you can actually just use your internet browser. Just app the code, you don't need to actually download the app. So on one of my documents, I have a QR code, and then a zapper code. So you scan the QR code on your phone. And then that opens up the URL to zap the zap recode. Oh, so it's just scan in zap?

Leslie Early 11:11

Yeah, they're probably trying to overcome that one. That one little hurdle of getting people to download the app to use it. Yeah. So that's pretty smart. Are there outside of zapper? Are there any other sort of technologies or anything that you're looking at? Or is it mostly just sapper right now?

Mike Peacock 11:28

It is zapper. I really like the new captivate 2019. Because you can actually do 360 pictures and put interactive interactivity into 360 pictures, you can do that in Zapier, but you have to write the code for it. And it's not that bad. There's a template you can follow along. It's only 27 steps. But it's it's not that bad. But you haven't really getting into trying to use the captivate for the 360. Because we do a lot of 360 with some of our cabinets, we'll put a 360 picture in it and then put hotspots and then you can go and Oh, what's this? What's this? What's this? And so it's like a deeper dive into each of the hotspots.

Leslie Early 12:12

And so that would be like an internal thing, right? It's for people who are working on the cabinets or right, yeah, okay.

Mike Peacock 12:19

Well, we can do one for marketing, we are doing a scavenger hunt one in our we're working with a we have a storyboard one for a scavenger hunt in our mock casino that we have on all the different cabinets, and I'm going to play the dealer. And so you scan me and I would talk and stuff. And then it goes off to the different cabinets and, and different experiences different player tracking. So it basically covers all of our products, all in one little scavenger hunt around our showroom.

Leslie Early 12:46

That's fun. That is really fun. And yeah, because that kind of integrates, like the sort of gaming part of, you know, augmented reality. Like, for instance, like the first time I experienced it, or I'm sure a lot of people experienced it, it's when Pokemon GO came out. Right. Right. And that was just like, just blew my mind. But you know, you could definitely kind of implement that.

Mike Peacock 13:12

Oh, yeah. I mean, even even that, and, you know, people don't even know they're doing augmented reality when they try to put a chair in a corner of their room. Good to see what it looks like. I'm like, that's augmented reality.

Leslie Early 13:23

Yeah. Like, I think IKEA has an outlet.

Mike Peacock 13:25


Leslie Early 13:26

Or I've seen like beauty companies they do. They're like, face tracking. So you can like put makeup try out different shades of lipstick, and like, eyeshadow. I don't wear makeup. So that's I'm clearly not their target. or clothing, you can try on different outfits. So that's all AR Yeah, that's really cool. Yeah.

Mike Peacock 13:46

And to bring that into the instructional design world, there's so many philosophy, it's God's called, focus on the art of the possibility. And it's something that, you know, during this conversation, you the listener out there sparked like, Oh, I'd like to try that. We'll go with it. You know, you and I are here for questions. Betty's here for questions to help make it possible. But just go with it. And, you know, just if you can think it, it can be done.

Leslie Early 14:14

Yeah, it might take a little bit of a putzing around and coding, learning a new coding language. You know, if you're, if there's a will, there's a way we all need unity in our life.

Mike Peacock 14:27


Leslie Early 14:28

I had, as part of an interview process, actually, you know, a company asked me to come up with a creative solution to a learning challenge. And the challenge was, people were making bad hiring decisions. So like, how can we train hiring managers to get through this interview process better because they were messing it up. So I was like, Okay, well, I had just heard about zapper in the zip code. So I was like, What if we give these hiring managers three fake resumes of these potential job candidates. And each each resume has the zip code on it. And so when you zap when you scan the resume, it's going to give you an interaction with this hypothetical candidate, like you were saying before, and then they can go through a scenario of now you're interviewing this candidate, you have their resume in front of you, you know, so you're able to kind of talk with them. And so I pitched that they, they loved it, and they, and they, they wanted me to come join them. So I was like, Yes, I paid off this last 30 minutes of research and kind of just thinking about the possibilities. I didn't have to actually create it yet. But I'm just thinking about the possibilities. Very exciting. That's awesome.

Mike Peacock 15:40

That's a great idea. And I think, taking that the next step, you know, putting a zapper code on your resume to show your portfolio. I'm working on a zapper code for my business card. And that kind of stuff. I think that scenario where they would zap it and do an interaction. I think that's wonderful genius. And and I bet they're expressions who are like, okay, that's awesome. I don't know how that would happen. But okay, you're hired?

Leslie Early 16:09

Yeah, well, because that will. The other thing I wanted to let people know is those that codes when you, when you open up the interaction, it's very similar to storyline, you can set it up with scenes. And so you can link you know, you can make a branch scenario depending on a person's response. So you can go, if they did, if they answered the question wrong, they get a bad response from this job candidate. And if they did it, right, they get a happy response. So, so yeah, so when I actually got in there playing around, I was like, Oh, this is very similar to storyline. So it was a lot less intimidating when I got in there and started playing around.

Mike Peacock 16:43

So right, no, absolutely, it has the same feel of storyline and labeling all your scenes and your assets that you put in and what it's going to do and, and so it can be really fun to to build those layers in. So I

Leslie Early 16:56

guess, you know, we're thinking about the possibilities, like, what do you think in the next couple? It's hard to predict, really, but what do you think in the next couple of years? Like, if you could do something super cool, you know, how do you see this being or playing out? Maybe in the next couple of years?

Mike Peacock 17:15

You know, I don't know, I think I would like to see it used more in instructional design. I've been playing around with interactive PDFs a lot and designing digital and physical interactive pieces of paper. I always, I always say, my papers, my, my documents are loud and cannot water cupcakes. So maybe, maybe a further discussion. But as the future I mean, I people are saying VR, you know, I understand VR, I get the awesomeness of VR, and people are focused with the glasses or, but I think we got to scale that back just for cost. So somewhere in the augmented world, but maybe, I don't know, cheaper glasses, I don't know, I bought it, I bought a pair of VR glasses that actually snap on to my phone. And so I can just look at VR without putting it up to my face without hooking into a unit or something like that. So maybe something on that line where we're still using our phones, and we can attach something to them.

Leslie Early 18:27

Yeah, that that actually is the the Kickstarter that's going on right now for that box. They've done they've developed the the headset, and then your phone plugs into it. And then they have like these little controllers that you can hold in your hands to manipulate objects. So yeah, and they're pretty cheap. I mean, at the price point, I think that they're gonna sell them for or maybe this is just the Kickstarter price, but it's like 40 bucks for the headset. But if you if you buy bulk, if like a company wants to use this, you know, if a company wanted to use this as training, and they bought like 10 at a time or whatever, it would be cheaper. But I thought that that's a pretty reasonable price for for the potential benefits of using that technology.

Mike Peacock 19:15

Yeah, it was a great headset, and specifically the the handheld joysticks, I guess so you can actually create movement and stuff. It's not just your head moving, but you can actually interact with it. So I'm curious. I mean, I got one.

Leslie Early 19:34

Well, like I said, I'm probably gonna I'm probably gonna give my little donation to the campaign just so I can get just so I can get my hands on it and get the developer, the Unity plugins and try to work with it. We'll see how far We'll see. Interactive PDF stuff sounds very interesting. So yeah, maybe we'll have to do a part two of this conversation and get more into that because I've never even really heard of that?

Mike Peacock 20:01

Absolutely. I would love to.

Leslie Early 20:04

Well, thank you again so much, Mike for stopping by sharing a little bit of your morning with me and talking about some cool new technologies.

Mike Peacock 20:13

No, thank you for having me having me on board.

Leslie Early 20:15

If listeners do have questions you mentioned they can contact me and Betty and you probably you and Betty probably know a lot more than I do at this point. But where can listeners connect with you?

Mike Peacock 20:26

They can look me up on LinkedIn. Mike peacock aristocrat technologies. Okay.

Leslie Early 20:32

And do you have any other like portfolio or any other website that people can look at or

Mike Peacock 20:37

We're working on that?

Leslie Early 20:38

Okay, so work in progress.

Mike Peacock 20:40

Working progress.

Leslie Early 20:41

Got it. All right. Well, thank you so much, Mike. I hope you have a good rest of your day.

Mike Peacock 20:45

Thank you. You too.

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