Manning Gottlieb OMD + Virgin Media Visit the Demo Studio


29th January, 2015

On 15th Jan we again played host to our lovely friends at Manning Gottlieb OMD who brought along the folks at Virgin Media and the Red Set team of bloggers for a sneak peek into the future of the wonderful world of emerging technology.

Featuring the formidable blogging talents of James Anderson, ‘the App Whisperer’ Joanne Carter, The Geek Syndicate, Alex Walsh of Daddacool and Phil Wheat of Nerdly, the group was keen to hear our thoughts on what the media, entertainment and communications might look like in a post-Oculus Rift future.

To offer a taste of what to expect, we wowed the group with a selection of our projects and experiences – from the virtual (Topshop Virtual Fashion Show, Virtual Vertigo, and flying and driving experiences on our FlightDeck and DriveDeck platforms respectively) to the augmented (our property, automotive and architectural projects) and the 3D (the zSpace, Alioscopy autostereoscopic – glasses-free display – and our eclectic array of 3D printed objects including 3D-printed datavisualisation ‘infosculptures’).

We wrapped up the visit with a Q & A session with INITION’s lead creative, Alex Lambert, the gist of which we’ve surmised below (with added comments from Creative Director Andy Millns and Production Manager Col Rodgers.)

Data visualisation is growing in popularity — what’s key to great data visualisation?

Interactivity is crucial to effective data visualisation – whether tactile, visual or digital – interactivity will be what separates the memorable from the forgettable, and what will make large data-sets more intuitive to navigate.

One of the best things about VR?

The ability to visit locations or events usually out of reach – fantastic virtual worlds, front-row, exclusive events, exotic overseas locations etc – as well as the amazing potential therapeutic applications.

Virtual reality is primarily based upon delivering a sense of presence, of actually taking you to a different location. Other mediums can certainly be immersive, but VR makes you feel like you are there.

VR can be used to represent existing media (VR cinema, virtual environments built for brands and media owners). For example, screening a film in an environment that perfectly suits and possibly reflects the themes of film, bringing in atmospheric elements from the film into the virtual cinema space has huge potential. This is essentially a virtual version of the very popular Secret Cinema.

How will VR affect game design?

VR changes the way people experience games. The ‘classic’ method of playing a game is to watch it through ‘a window’ – the device screen. What VR does is immerse the player in the game world. What were once pretty visuals on a 2D plane are now the world that surrounds you. As such, game designers are able to re-imagine the experiences that they’ve previously given to the player. It’s no longer the case that the player needs to use an analogue stick or a mouse to look around – they simply turn their head to look at anything in the game world.

Whole new mechanics and genres of games are currently being invented which are enabling the worlds within games to be explored in different ways. Navigation is unique challenge for VR; unlike ‘traditional’ video games, fast movements in VR environments with a typical frame per second (FPS) is problematic though, given the virtual worlds within these environments is much more stimulating, users may not require fast movements to the same degree. The desire for gamers to linger and absorb their virtual surrounds is likely to keep the experience ‘fresher’ longer than their screen-based counterparts. In this sense, environments wouldn’t necessarily have to be as big, but they would need to bear close scrutiny.

The post Oculus future will overcome these issues – we’re already seeing exciting devices such as the Leap Motion – which allows close-range hand tracking – being built into VR experiences. Devices such as the WizDish enable the player to experience the sensation of walking in their VR experiences, thus pushing this further still.

The combination of newer, higher-resolution HMDs, combined with the aforementioned extra-sensory devices, and the realistic sense of stereoscopic 3D means developers will be able to alter players’ perceptions entirely. A much greater focus on 3D stereo depth will be required, but this opens up potential to play with your sense of scale – making you feel like a giant or an ant.

More “sedate” gaming experiences that are about discovery, exploration and puzzle/mystery solving rather than FPS/Action Adventure.

How will emerging tech affect the theatre?

Like VR and gaming, projection mapping technology has the potential to add another element to live theatre events – particularly for more sci-fi, fantasy storylines. Virtual cinemas and immersive theatre are two growing applications of the virtual reality resurgence.

VR is much more like a theatrical experience – immediate and engaging, happening around you.

Great opportunity to create immersive/interactive experiences in VR that are much more like Punch Drunk/You Me Bum Bum Train

What do we think are the top trends this year in AV/future tech?

  • Live broadcast for VR telepresence. Video on demand could become a better experience than in real-life will unlimited audience size…
  • VR tourism, potentially with the added use of a remote robot with the ability to move about, see 360 degree views and 3D audio.
  • AR glasses. Google Glass was more of an experiment but with Magic Leap AR and also the ODG (Osterhout Design Group) consumer smart glasses that showcased at CES we should start to see it really come together.
  • Flexible, irregular and freeform screens. Any surface can be a screen.
  • Wearables and IoT have been buzzing around for the last 12-24 months but this is the year that should see more innovations coming out that will network us to our devices. In the same vein (but wider reaching perhaps) technology to solve problems caused by technology – like having a remote control to change the TV channel!  Now it is revolving more around wearables. Devices to charge your phone on the go, perhaps from your own kinetic or thermal energy. Jewellery and other fashion accessories that keep you discreetly connected so you can choose what notifications are important and worth interrupting your work/life for. Nixie, the wrist worn selfie drone that won the intel Make it Wearable Challenge is another good example but also opens up questions regarding privacy much like the Google Glass.
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