Everyday AR

At the end of last month, Apple released iOS 11, along with their new range of devices. Among many other features iOS 11 includes ARKit, Apple’s new technology for augmented reality.

This news flew under the radar for many people. It was the last thing listed on Apple’s press release about the next generation of devices, and was overshadowed by the controversy around the new iPhone X.

In a way, this low-profile release of ARKit makes sense; AR has had a niche appeal since Google Glass failed to take off back in 2014, and it’s only been helped a little by the global success of Pokemon Go. Outside of a few gimmick-driven games, art installations, and tech demos, it’s unclear what value AR would bring to most people and it seems destined to vanish just like Glass, so it makes sense for Apple to regard AR as taking a risk, and not to bill it too high.

Or at least that’s the pessimistic view - but the optimist might point to the potential of AR as a practical and enduring technology...  

One thing that’s not widely known about Augmented Reality is that it was first developed by the US Air Force in the 1980s: 

In order to increase the response time of fighter pilots, military engineers used computers to condense massive amounts of flight data into simple icons and then projected those icons onto the two visors of a pilot's helmet. In other words, they made an AR headset. [1] 

  Image: United States Air Force

Image: United States Air Force

But, despite AR’s pragmatic origins, most of the consequent uses of the tech have been for entertainment. There are some exceptions, such as Ikea’s catalogue app or AirMeasure, a nifty ruler app which lets you test the position of an object in a space, but in general these are just variations on the most basic application of AR: putting something virtual into a real space.

What hasn’t yet been widely explored is the way that AR can work together with other systems to help with everyday work tasks: 

Some companies including Microsoft have begun to popularise the broader concept of practical AR via devices such as the Hololens, but these products are currently pitched towards professionals such as industrial designers and surgeons.

The military AR device was exceptional because it was accessible to a large group of people, had a practical use, and could be integrated with day-to-day operations, and at RealityLab: London we see these as good principles to help guide the coming wave of popular AR (e.g. in the form of ARKit and its Android doppelganger, ARCore) and as a major opportunity to assist with everyday work in many other fields.

  Image from  Wikimedia Commons . License: CC share-alike by attribution.

Image from Wikimedia Commons. License: CC share-alike by attribution.

We’ve been working with VR and 360 film for a range of practical purposes; from promoting events to training people in immersive ways, and we see AR as another useful tool in these (and other) spaces, and, as the technology matures, we expect to see AR augment the everyday work process in many ways:

Imagine a taxi driver who wants to get to their next client as quickly as possible and not wanting to reconfigure their GPS for each call: with augmented reality, the road in front of the driver could be lit up, with colour-coded icons showing the route to each customer, their likely value, and any major delays or incidents which could affect the journey. A similar technology could be imagined for long-distance lorry drivers, but with the emphasis being on accessible roads, dynamic blind spot reminders and regular rest stops. Or imagine the impact AR could have on the effectiveness of emergency services: incidents could be triaged and staff directed in real-time, with information on the numbers and locations of staff readily available to a control centre, along with rolling video footage. And this isn't just a fantasy: companies like Garmin sell HUDs which already realise that vision, albeit in a simple form.

Beyond navigation, AR also promises easier training of people in technical skills; you could overlay close-up footage of a carver’s technique as they carve, or have an explanation of each part of an assembly line available to new engineers. This could even be integrated with guidance systems to make sure that the right balance of skills is available on a given project at the right time.

 Image from  MIT Tangible Media Group . License: CC Non-Commercial by Attribution.

Image from MIT Tangible Media Group. License: CC Non-Commercial by Attribution.

Research groups such as the MIT Media Lab’s Tangible Media group are even working on ways to augment senses beyond sight, through means as diverse as shape displays, shapeshifting noodles, and sensor-laden body suits - and headphone companies have recently introduced variable noise cancelling - allowing recorded noises to merge seamlessly with the real world, so in the future it’s possible that we might not only be able to see and hear virtual objects, but touch and manipulate them also. 

At RealityLab: London we think It’s only a matter of time before these technologies become an everyday part of organisations’ repertoires, and the emerging global AR platform and ecosphere, as offered by Apple's ARKit and Google's ARCore, will present an important first opportunityfor companies to embrace the emerging world of augmented reality in the workplace.

To find out more about our VR, AR, 360 film and gamification work, say hello@realitylab.com.

By Frank Davies, Creative Technologist @ RealityLab: London

[1] Rise of the Machines: A Cybernetic History; Peter Rid

Header image by Pablo Trincado of piece by Yayoi Kusama. CC by Attribution.

Freddy Gangemi Joins RealityLab: London

We are delighted to announce that Freddy Gangemi has joined RealityLab: London as Head of Design. 

Freddy brings over two decades of experience from within the design space, and has delivered award-winning design projects for a variety of public and private-sector clients around the world.

Previously an Associate at the global consultancy Steer Davies Gleave, he specialises in designing interfaces between people and places – a precious skill for creating highly effective virtual and mixed reality experiences, and he has worked with world-class architectural firms including Foster + Partners, Maki and Associates, Weston Williamson and Partners, Shigeru Ban alongside many others.

In Freddy's own words: "I am excited about the technology and its transformative potential within the design industry - and believe that VR and AR have the power to dramatically change not only the planning and design processes, but peoples' daily lives". 

Freddy's addition to our team will allow us to inject industry-leading insight into our VR and AR design across formats including Apple ARkit, Google's ARCore,  Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, and, with his experience ranging as it does from from physical media to digital applications, we are looking forward to the exciting things that we will create together at RealityLab: London.

A Year of Innovation

 

Summary

It's been a busy period for us, as in the wider world of VR. We've been helping corporate clients including Vodafone, Marriott, Liberty Global and the Concerto Group to apply VR and 360 video content into their businesses.

The RealityLab teams were engaged thoroughly and brought innovative, creative ideas with them to all parts of the process.
— Vodafone Group

We partnered with Vodafone and Huawei to provide VR support for their APPEX Catalyst - an initiative that seeks new ways to combine technologies in order to enhance customer service.

For Marriott International, we created an immersive VR experience to attract interest at their global events.

We also worked with our sister company, Maverick, to provide 360 content for Liberty Global's Technology Summit in Amsterdam: an annual event where they preview a number of exciting new technologies.

Finally, we worked with the Concerto Group to create a VR sales aid for a number of their most prestigious event spaces.

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We have also been active on the events front – running VR workshops, installations and participating in a variety of experiences across the medical, fashion and technology sectors, as well as providing 360 film content and support to some high profile game launches.

Talk to us to find out more about what we have been up to - and how we can help your organisation to use VR and 360 film effectively.

Promoting Liberty Global

Liberty Global are one of the largest owners of media, technology and content in the world,
with many household names within their portfolio of companies.

We worked together with our sister company, Maverick, to help Liberty Global create innovative 360 film of their Technology Summit. This brought together the various companies in their organisation with the aim of enhancing cooperation and knowledge-sharing across the spectrum.

We covered the event for VR and online with 360 cameras, and created bespoke content
to enhance the online profile and audience engagement with the event and the brand.

Contact us to find out how we can help your business use 360 video effectively.

Services: 360 filming & production / Graphics & UI / Editing & Sound Design /
Facebook 360

Hitting the Mark with Marriott International

Marriott has long been a technological innovator in the way that it reaches out to potential
partners and customers.

Their business challenge was to find a unique way to connect with their intended
audiences at live events.

Realitylab: London proposed a solution that involved both VR and gamification as a way of
ensuring standout, and of targeting the competitive nature of the clients that Marriott
wanted to attract and engage.

IHIF (1).jpg

Working closely alongside Marriott, we designed and produced a VR game that fused motion tracking with amazing graphics to place the user into a virtual branded world with the challenge of hitting as many targets as possible to be in with a chance of getting on to the leaderboard.

To find out more about how VR and gamification can enhance your publicity, contact us!

Services: VR / Game design & delivery / Graphics & UI / Unreal Engine / HTC Vive

Striking a Chord with Concerto Group

The use of VR for communicating a sense of space and location is perhaps one of the
easiest translations of the technology as the advantages are clear, and the production
process and delivery can be achieved both quickly and economically.

RealityLab’s continuous support and flexibility throughout... has been incredibly helpful.
— Concerto Group

The Concerto Group organise and run events at a large number of iconic spaces across
the UK, but some only operate for a short period of the year.

Their business challenge was that this time window meant that they were limited in ways to communicate these venues to potential clients for the rest of the year, with photos and videos only going some way to selling the unique atmosphere, geography and scale at the locations.

RealityLab: London worked with the Concerto Group to create a series of 360 films that eloquently
communicated each venue, enabling corporate clients to picture their Christmas event in
March, or for a couple to book their ideal summer venue in the midst of winter.

According to Carly Mitchell, the Managing Director at Concerto Group's Ultimate Experience:

Ultimate Experience worked with Reality Lab on three different VR venue tours. Their expertise and skills have provided an invaluable sales tool for us. Reality Lab’s continuous support and flexibility throughout, and even after these projects were completed, has been incredibly helpful. As a team they have always gone above and beyond, and no question or queries have ever been too much for them. We can’t recommend them enough and look forward to working with them in the future.

Contact us to find out how we can help your business use 360 film effectively.

Services:  360 filming / Graphics & UI / Editing & Sound Design / Samsung Gear VR

Mixing Tech with APPEX

RealityLab: London was asked to join up with a dream team of technology providers
including Vodafone and Huawai as part of the APPEX technology project.

The RealityLab teams were engaged thoroughly and brought innovative, creative ideas with them to all parts of the process.
— Vodafone Group

The aim of the project was to propose and demonstrate new applications and
combinations of technology within an omnichannel environment. Our brief was to bring the project to life in 360 video content by explaining the vision and technology involved, and by connecting these to the enhancements to the Vodafone customer's experience.

We worked closely with all parties to help simplify the complicated technological process into a more accessible format, and then filmed extensively with Vodafone to capture the elements from many different aspects of their operation across the country. 

Screen Shot 2017-09-15 at 16.08.15.png

We are proud to say that the project was awarded first prize at the TM Forum technology showcase, and look forward to the broader roll out of the technology we previewed in the film.

According to Deepanshu Motani, Enterprise Architect at Vodafone Group:

Reality Lab helped the APPEX project team bring a unique and insightful edge to our presentation that our target audience could easily relate to and understand, in addition to being wowed through a virtual reality experience. The Reality Lab teams were engaged thoroughly and brought innovative, creative ideas with them to all parts of the process, allowing us to deliver the idea from initial thoughts into Virtual Reality, whilst always being assured under the challenging timelines. It was a pleasure to have worked with such a productive team.

Contact us to find out how we can help your business use 360 film effectively.

Services: 360 film / Graphics & UI / Editing & Sound Design / Samsung Gear VR

Frank Davies joins RealityLab: London

RealityLab: London are pleased to announce that Frank Davies has joined them in the role of Creative Technologist.

Frank's previous role was running the emerging media space at Westminster University, and as a result he brings a wealth of practical experience in applying various technology into innovative uses, with project experience ranging across both hardware and software.

A philosopher at heart, Frank sees many analogies between the worlds of programming and philosophy, and his zen-like attitude to technical and coding challenges is already being warmly appreciated.

We look forward to hearing more of Frank's thoughts on the world of tech, code and aristotelian argument on this blog in the near future...

 

 

 

 

 

 

RLL @ Mediatech 360

Nice to sit down with some of the great and the good in TV to discuss the potential of VR to work alongside broadcast media at the Mediatech 360 summit in London. 

The broad outlook was exceedingly positive, with lots of interesting thought on how the various media owners were looking to leverage the technology.

The consensus was to find ways to make VR relevant as a medium by creating real value and difference in the content, with concepts that complement the main broadcast offering in interesting ways...

All of us on the panel agreed that we had learnt a lot - hope the delegates did too. 

Thoughts on E3 2017

RLL were at E3 2017 to catch up with our friends in the games industry, and from our conversations it's safe to say that most games companies are very much in experimentation mode when it comes to VR. 

With the range of titles stretching from Doom VFR to The Inpatient to Moss there seemed to be a broad and exciting difference in how games companies were approaching the medium. 

This augers well for those of us engaged in transporting the technology over into non-games usage as it expands the palette of possibilities available to us in both technical and creative terms...

VRFocus have a great summary of the highlights at E3, which you can find below:

VR in Space (es)

We've been using VR to transport viewers in to some really interesting locations recently. & here's the first in an occasional series from some of our favourite spaces of recent projects...

This is a shot from one of the giant server rooms at one of the country's biggest communications providers.

Hidden behind military-style security at an unnamed location it was strange to think of the millions of pieces of data and interaction that were buzzing around these giant data silos... 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A fashion for VR...

We were delighted to be invited to the Draper's Digital conference earlier this month to show off some of our VR content alongside other exhibitors (including such luminaries Facebook.)

It was really interesting to see how the great and the good in the online fashion space were thinking about VR.  In conversation with them it seems that many are considering it for in-store activation in the short term, but have the far bigger goal of using it as the logical extension of their virtual showrooms in the longer term: and, when you consider how much fun it might be for friends to try on various clothes in together in the virtual space, and how this would enhance the capacity for engagement and sales, you can understand why.

Anecdotally we've noted how other industries such as motoring are entering into the VR space with a view to replacing their physical showrooms - at least in the long term.  Besides the obvious cost-savings, their ultimate aim is to standardise the level of customer interaction, and to maximise the up-sell potential from customisations - and again, you can see their point... 

 

 

 

NEW TALENT SCHEME

If you're a talented graduate set on carving yourself a role in the world of Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Interactive applications then the RealityLab:London New Talent Scheme is an ideal opportunity for you.  

We've launching this scheme to bring in talented new individuals into our studio and give them a chance to explore, show and develop their talents.

Candidates on the New Talent Scheme get to work on a range of live projects and briefs from the get go and will receive training and mentoring to support them through the process. The idea is to give people a chance to do their best and see if there's a good fit for what we need at RealityLab:London.

Based at our studio in Clerkenwell candidates are offered to participate on one or a series of three month Modules, each designed to provide exposure to different aspects of our work, whether that's in a Creative or in Production/Management capacity etc.  On completing the Module(s) candidates may be offered a position with us.

Candidates are paid while they are on the scheme £1,500 p/month. 

WHO IS THIS SUITED TO:

We're looking for Graduates that show a high level of achievement in their career so far and who can demonstrate skills in an area relevant to RealityLab:London's business; espcially game design, programming and media production.  Candidates that are great at designing and prototyping in Unity and Unreal would be particularly suitable.

INTERESTED?

So if this is for you, then we'd love to hear from you! 

Feel free to email hello@realitylab.london with Subject "New Talent Scheme" if you have any questions or would like to apply.  In your application make sure you email a c.v., cover letter and tell us the following:  

  1. What achievements you are most proud of?
  2. What skills you have now and what you would like to develop?
  3. What areas of RealityLab's work you are most interested in?

The new cohort is expected to start in May 2017 so apply now!

N.B. Candidates must be a graduate and a European Citizen or have a work Visa to qualify.

AFRICA HEALTH SUMMIT 2017

We had the very great pleasure to demonstrate interactive and passive VR solutions at the recent Africa Health Summit 2017 summit @ Olympia.

It was amazing to meet so many people who are passionately engaged in working to solve some of the most pressing health concerns in Africa: and we were struck how they responded to the potential of both passive and interactive VR as a potential tool to help them solve various communication problems.

From charities wishing to communicate their work, to NGOs looking to influence decision-makers, to medical companies planning to train nurses to use specialist equipment in remote locations and even dentists looking to use VR to help overcome children's fears: the ideas came thick and fast.

While not all of these ambitions will come to fruition, we were once again struck by how VR seems to both clarify and inspire it's potential amongst the most diverse of audiences when experienced 'hands on', and that's why we enjoy going on the road with VR so much.

It also gives us the very useful opportunity to live test games or applications that we are working on, and so we observe user feedback very carefully, and refine accordingly...

So thanks to all we met, and looking forward to picking up on some of the most interesting ideas with you soon.