The Summer Solstice, otherwise known as the longest day of the year has been and gone, meaning it must be time for the next quarterly review of 2019 already! It’s been a busy three months as usual, with lots of projects deployed and team efforts pushing the boundaries. We are currently hiring for four open positions within the production and R&D teams, check out the vacancies here: Wired Sussex Jobs Board
After our early tests last year with the Realities Centre and Huawei, streaming VR training applications to PC VR headsets, we were delighted to be selected for the Digital Catapult ‘5G Testbed Accelerator‘ 2nd year cohort, allowing us access to the 5G testbed in The Fusebox, Brighton and later this year, the setup in Brighton Dome, as part of the Corn Exchange renovations. We’ll be looking at how 5G can accelerate and improve performance of the CreativeXR / TOMTech “Time Machine” immersive theatre prototype we deployed in June (see below).
We were also delighted to be nominated for a number of awards in and around the immersive and industry sectors we operate within. So far the awards finalists nominations include the following: Prolific London – Innovative Company of the Year, VR Awards – Innovative Company of the Year / VR for Training / VR for Enterprise, Brighton & Hove Business Awards – Innovation for Business. We will have to wait a few months for the various awards ceremony evening events to find out if we are winners or not.
As part of our ongoing desire to increase awareness and education around utilising immersive technologies effectively within enterprise training, learning & development, we hosted our first webinar, discussing how to Validate Use Cases for VR Learning. If you missed it, you can listed back it to here: YouTube – Make Real Webinar #1
A number of the team popped across the North Sea to Amsterdam, for the annual VRX Europe event, to hear from a number of speakers about a variety of topics around education, consumer and enterprise xR uses and came away full of notes and excitement having gotten to try out the Magic Leap One and car panel paint spraying simulator. Our Director of Immersive Technologies, Sam Watts, was busy giving talks at a number of events, including the Into Games – VR Beyond Gaming sessions, the VR Brighton – Multi-User VR Experiences themed meetup, the final year students of the Games Design and CompSci degrees at University of Brighton and also the keynote opening talk at the inaugural Digital Northampton / VR Symposium. We also attended the Wired Sussex ‘Talent Fest‘ event, where our MD Robin Scott gave a passionate talk about using creativity in a range of roles within the digital sector beyond just the obvious ones.
We were honoured to be able to work with Clare College, Cambridge to create a 360° film and interactive VR application for their fundraising activities around renovations to Old Court, as part of their run up to the 700th anniversary of the most historic academic buildings in the UK. Bringing Michael Danks, Emmy and BAFTA-nominated director and film producer on-board was a wise decision, as he was able to bring a warmth and passion to the project, putting all involved at ease to create a meaningful and emotional case for the fundraising purposes. You can watch the final film over on the Clare College YouTube channel.
We were also excited to be selected for the Digital Catapult / Arts Council England funded initiative CreativeXR, as part of their 2nd year cohort of immersive studio and theatrical collaborations, to design, develop and deploy our prototype experience concept, inspired by H.G. Wells “Time Machine“. Led by TOMTech, part of The Old Market Theatre, we worked with some world class talent to create a collaborative theatre experience, combining projected, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and volumetrically captured content. As mentioned in the news section above, we will be looking at how the experience can be enhanced and extended to wider audience numbers with 5G technology, now that the initial prototype has been delivered, ahead of the pitching, investment funding and showcase events lined up for October this year.
Following on from the initial PoC deployed last quarter, we wrapped up development of a more in-depth VR experience called ‘Porsche: Origins‘. Deployed on the recently released Oculus Quest standalone headsets and developed using Unreal 3D engine, this is a technical first for the studio, pushing the development team in many new ways to create a highly personable, immersive experience, that will be utilised by the Porsche Experience Centre staff as part of their onboarding training within the coming months.
Finally, we finished development of our next project for Vodafone, the “DriVe Safe” mobile phone-based learning game for Android and iOS devices. Having been in development for the best part of the year so far, this has been a huge undertaking for the studio with a greater budget and effort than our own VR game title, Loco Dojo! Designed to encourage awareness and understanding of safe driving. Learners will create their driving licence and set off around mini-maps of a much larger city area, travelling about during their daily work routine. Movement lands on either a scored question screen about good driving habits and regulations or one of 5 mini-games, which could require them to quickly sort appropriate gear at the start of their journey, carry out safe driving maneuvers on the motorway or being a perfect backseat driver, as they aim to increase their score, and knowledge, against all the other registered learners.
We have been finalising the feature set, bug fixing, testing and polishing our first own-IP L&D VR training product “Rear Guard“. This is now ready for purchase for Oculus Rift+Touch based PC VR systems either as a software licence or with a hardware bundle to run your own training sessions with. It will have its first official outing in early July with BIFFA as they welcome a cohort of new starters to their waste management teams. Looking further ahead, it will be available for attendees of RWM (Recycling Waste Management) Show at Birmingham NEC in mid-September. Standalone VR device support is now in development for release in the near future. If you would like to find out more about how VR training for waste management, or two-person delivery vehicle reversing operatives, can allow you to quickly enhance and scale up training outcomes, get in touch.
After a brief hiatus to work on the CreativeXR immersive theatre prototype, the team focused back on the “Loco Dojo” ports for PS VR & Vive Focus Plus, with the latter expected to release in July on Viveport Store and Infinity subscriptions initially, with a Chinese localised version to follow shortly behind. We are currently in the exciting process of VR Consultation (AKA VR Comfort Review) for Sony PlayStation VR, ahead of planned launch in Q3’19.
We hosted our usual Codebar Brighton developer mentoring session once more, laying on the pizza and drinks to fuel keen minds learning their way around a variety of programming languages.
Members of the Travel Buddy Project from Grace Eyre Foundation came to visit us, so that they could try out the latest VR headsets and see how they felt to use, as they investigate travelling awareness to improve accessibility for people with learning disabilities and training for their staff, members and public.
Finally, we supported our VR PR Marketing & Events company Virtual Umbrella founder and managing director, Sammy Kingston, with access to our new Insta360 Pro 2 camera as part of her filming of her personal documentary about living with parents of substance abuse, “Anonymous“, which is a moving self-reflection story premiering next month.
As we move into the second half of the year, we look forward to full product launches, wrapping up a number of other projects ready for deployment and continue to grow the team as more partners come on-board and we look to further expand our reach. If you would like more regular updates and news about the immersive technologies we use, be sure to sign-up for our newsletter.