The Arcade: A school trip with a difference!

How do you go on a school trip when you can't go to school?

National Historic Ships UK is one of the heritage organisations to take advantage of a recent offer we made to fellow Heritage Alliance members of creating a free virtual gallery, part of our efforts to support the sector during lockdown. They are based at the Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London, so it was fitting that we approached the school physically closest to them, Meridian Primary School, to offer their pupils the opportunity to go on a school trip with a difference.

Following close liaison and planning with the Year 4 teacher, Jeff Mason, a detailed note was circulated explaining how the kids could access the National Historic Ships exhibition in our gallery space, The Arcade. It is built on Mozilla Hubs, which we chose because unlike most VR platforms it is available to anyone with a web browser, a critical consideration for any virtual experience designed for mass audiences, as The Arcade very much is.

Then it was time to open the doors and welcome the kids in! Pandas, foxes, robots and all sorts of other characters popped up as they chose their avatars and came into the gallery. This was the first time many of them had been in direct contact with each other for many months, since lockdown began, and they quickly delighted in moving around the gallery and chatting away to each other. We left them to discover the chat functionality, and then how to bring 3D emojis into the space, which they did within moments.

Jeff himself was highly visible as a bright yellow floating robot, and after giving them time to enjoy themselves exploring the gallery together, asked his pupils to engage with the National Historic Ships photography exhibition itself. They looked at the photographs and chose their favourites, took a few minutes to sketch them and imagined what it might be like to sail on them.

But mostly they just had fun! They hadn’t been able to see each other for months, and through the magic of this virtual experience they were brought back together again. Since the Year 4 trip, the other classes at Meridian that have not been able to return to school have also visited the gallery. Years 2, 3 and 5 all enjoyed their own trips, and came together in The Arcade. This was immersive technology for real purpose, and it was such a pleasure to be a part of it.

Learn more about The Arcade and other virtual experiences

Arcade x Kielder: Connecting People To Nature and the Universe

We are very proud to announce that Arcade has been awarded two separate projects in partnership with Digital Catapult North East & Tees Valley, both centred around one of the largest and most impressive natural environments in the UK, Kielder Water & Forest Park.

Guardians of Kielder

The first project is with Kielder’s Development Trust, creating a new way for diverse audiences to connect with this incredible natural space. ‘Guardians of Kielder’ is a prototype app designed to invite people to engage with Kielder via immersive AR and VR technologies. Starting from a three-dimensional map of the 650km2 park that can be placed on a floor or table-top, users can explore Kielder and discover its rich history as well as its role as a diverse, living habitat for wildlife and human activity today.

Most importantly, users are invited to become Guardians. For a small donation, they can effectively adopt a parcel of Kielder land which they can then visit virtually from wherever they are in the world, and make it their own. The result is a meaningful sense of connection and belonging, and a new, rewarding relationship with this important natural environment.

Kielder Nights

The second project is with one of Kielder’s most illustrious residents, the Kielder Observatory. Northumberland National Dark Sky Park, as the area has been designated, is the largest Gold Tier Dark Sky Park area of protected night sky in Europe – and the observatory sits at the heart of this astonishing space.

Their objective is to explore ways to take the ‘Kielder Moment’ – the unique, awe-inspiring feeling of looking up at a pollution-free night sky full of billions of stars – out to more people than could ever physically visit in person. ‘Kielder Nights’ is an app that will allow audiences to place a Kielder Mini Observatory wherever they are, and then step inside for that inspirational view of a Kielder night sky. A Kielder astronomer will introduce them to some of the most fascinating celestial objects on show, and invite them to explore these galaxies and nebulas in immersive three-dimensional space.

Guardians of Kielder en Kielder Nights are both funded at prototype stage by the North East Social Tech Fund, run by Digital Catapult North East & Tees Valley. Both projects will be launched for testing later this year.

To find out more about Kielder Water & Forest Park, as well as the Development Trust and Kielder Observatory, click here.

Arcade awarded Immersive Storytelling Fellowship by StoryFutures and UK Parliament

We are thrilled to announce that Arcade is one of five industry-leading SMEs to be awarded an Immersive Storytelling Fellowship by StoryFutures, the Creative Cluster that creates and helps fund R&D projects with creative businesses in the Gateway Cluster and Greater London.

Jon Meggitt, Arcade CEO, takes on the role of Fellow on a hugely exciting project that sees Arcade partner with Royal Holloway academics and UK Parliament to immerse audiences in the rich historical and contemporary narratives that make Parliament so important to today’s society.

The overarching goal is to make Parliament feel relevant to audiences of all kinds, creating meaningful connections with its history and ongoing activity. To do so, we will create a ‘Spatial Story Platform’, a new way of using immersive technology to serve contextual, multi-vocal stories that are tailored to the user, whoever they are and whatever their interests.

Jon Meggitt
Jon Meggitt, Arcade CEO & Immersive Storytelling Fellow

Using the majestic Westminster Hall as our physical canvas, we will create a visitor experience that offers a personalised interactive tour through hundreds of the historical and contemporary stories that have defined the UK Parliament. Many will include multiple perspectives on the same narrative and invite the user to make up their own mind about which side of the debate they would have supported.

Artist's impression of the Westminster Hall experience

In addition to physical visitors to Parliament, it is important for the experience to foster this stronger sense of connection amongst those who are unable to reach Parliament for physical, economic or social reasons so we will also create a remote experience, built around a digital twin of Westminster Hall. Users can virtually place the hall in the physical space around them, before ‘stepping inside’ and enjoying a similar experience to physical visitors, but from anywhere in the country or, indeed, the world.

“It is a huge honour to accept this Fellowship,” said Jon, “and we are thrilled to be working with such prestigious institutions as StoryFutures, Royal Holloway and, in particular, UK Parliament. The challenge from an R&D perspective is pretty huge, but that’s what make this so exciting. It’s an opportunity to try and do something completely new, with permission to fail. But of course we’ll be doing everything we can to succeed!”

Read the full StoryFutures press release hier.

Arcade x MUNCH: a Digital Catapult Collaboration

ARCADE, MUNCH AND DIGITAL CATAPULT ANNOUNCE INTERNATIONAL PROJECT

In the weeks prior to full lockdown, we were busy finalising the details of a secret and incredibly exciting project run by Digital Catapult, the UK’s leading advanced digital innovation centre. After several months of feverish (and entirely socially distanced) collaboration, we can now finally announce what we’ve been up to!

We are absolutely thrilled to be partnering with MUNCH, the Oslo-based museum that celebrates the life and works of Norway’s iconic artist, Edvard Munch.

Together we are developing an AR creativity platform for schools that brings Munch’s creative philosophies into the modern era, enabling users to place, edit and share their Munch-inspired works in locations of their choosing across the physical world.

The platform starts with pen and paper but then flips into AR, offering a contemporary, innovative version of the same artistic principles that Munch himself followed, designed to inspire creativity in schools across Norway and potentially beyond.

Arcade’s Alex Book said, “During our research for this incredible project we discovered that Arcade shares one of Edvard Munch’s core philosophies, of using creativity to connect people to place. Our mediums may differ, but that link was just one reason that we were so thrilled to partner with MUNCH and Digital Catapult to bring this idea to life.”

“Kids today are more technically savvy than ever,” added Gerd-Elise Mørland, MUNCH Director of Learning, “and we want to address this development by creating an experience that allows its young users to explore creative expression with methods familiar to their digital lives. We are so grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with both Digital Catapult and Arcade on this inspiring project, which is generously supported by Sparebankstiftelsen DNB, Norway.”

Jeremy Silver, Digital Catapult CEO, said, “This project addresses the challenges of how to bring a wider sense of Edvard Munch’s work and ideas directly to audiences and to do so outside of the traditional bounds of a museum space; that has become even more meaningful during the course of the project. We’re thrilled to be working with MUNCH and one of the UK’s leading creative mixed reality studios, Arcade, and we look forward to seeing the wider impact of this cutting-edge collaboration.”

The app is currently being user-tested with groups of students in Norway and development work will continue over the summer. MUNCH is opening a new museum in autumn 2020 with the app ready for download for pilot-groups around the same time.

Read the full press release from Digital Catapult hier.

Arcade named as Createch Ones to Watch

For the second year running, Arcade has been named amongst the UK’s leading creative technology businesses by the Creative Industries Council.

Createch, the annual creative industries conference, this year partnered with the CogX Global Leadership Summit and hosted a stage and the all-virtual three-day event. As one of the ‘Ones to Watch’, Arcade was invited to set up a virtual booth throughout the event, and took part in many of its fascinating presentations.

During the event, Arcade revealed its exciting partnership with MUNCH and Digital Catapult.

Arcade CEO Jon Meggitt said, “We are thrilled to have been recognised by the Creative Industries Council in this way, and couldn’t be prouder to be representatives of the UK creative technology sector in such an exciting, high profile event.”

Janet Hull, CIC Createch Organiser and Marketing Director at the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, said of the honoured organisations: “These inspiring examples of next generation businesses are testament to the ingenuity of so many UK creative entrepreneurs. They are our future leaders. Createch 2020 100 Ones to Watch at CogX is the ideal platform from which to promote their reputation on the global stage.”

Welcome to The Arcade! Virtual gallery launches on Google and Mozilla

THE ARCADE IS OPEN

After several years working with some of the UK and Europe’s best culture and heritage organisations, we thought it was about time we became one ourselves! We are incredibly proud to open the doors to The Arcade, our very own gallery.

The Arcade is a three-dimensional space where visitors can explore arts, culture and heritage exhibitions from anywhere in the world. Created in response to the Coronavirus lockdown but with an important role still to play once we are in a post-Covid world, The Arcade is open to all; whether you’re using a computer, mobile, tablet or even VR headset, you can step inside and enjoy the view.

A SHARED EXPERIENCE

As well as being universally accessible, The Arcade also exists across a variety of platforms. Google Poly offers a series of 360° views of the gallery space, with the ability to enlarge and learn more about the artworks around you. Poly is also linked to the Google Expeditions app, designed to bring it into the classroom and make it viewable in VR.

Google Poly: 360° Views

But perhaps the platform in which The Arcade most comes to life is Mozilla Hubs, a web-based social environment that allows visitors to enter the space together, move around it just like you would in a physical gallery and chat with each other as you go. This kind of shared experience is at the heart of so many visits to culture and heritage spaces, and it can be meaningfully replicated in The Arcade. We believe that although this is especially timely as lockdown conditions endure, the benefits of these social cultural environments will last far longer than Covid-19.

Mozilla Hubs: Free roam in a shared social space

NOW SHOWING @ THE ARCADE

The first three exhibitions in The Arcade, presented in association with The Heritage Alliance, are Landmark Trust’s Coastal Landmarks, National Historic Ships photography competition highlights from the past ten years, and the ‘reawakening’ of Alexandra Palace’s stunning theatre. The National Historic Ships exhibition is also accessible via Mozilla Hubs hier – share the link with a friend and take a wander around together!

Alexandra Palace - Google Poly
National Historic Ships - Mozilla Hubs
The Landmark Trust - Google Poly

The Arcade is open and everyone is welcome.

To learn more, talk to us about putting on your virtual exhibition, or see what virtual galleries could do for you, please get in touch.

To learn more, please get in touch

A Vixen’s Tale celebrated in Creative Review 2020 Annual!

A Vixen’s Tale, the mixed reality immersive experience created for Welsh National Opera, has been honoured in Creative Review’s prestigious awards publication, The Annual 2020, one of the creative industry’s most valued awards. We are thrilled to be included in this “showcase of the year’s best work across advertising, design, digital, gaming and more” alongside big-hitting brands like IKEA, Spotify, Channel 4, Nike, The Guardian, KFC, Lacoste, BBC and Adidas, and world-leading agencies such as Mother, Droga 5, TBWA and Wieden + Kennedy.

Designed to immerse opera-goers new and old in the story of Leoš Janáček’s iconic The Cunning Little Vixen, A Vixen’s Tale originally launched Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff in October 2019. During its hugely successful month-long installation, it welcomed 5,939 recorded visitors, with over 80% of groups including younger audiences – a key metric of success for WNO.

A Vixen’s Tale has continued to tour, with the most recent installation at London’s South Bank sadly postponed due to the Coronavirus. Fingers crossed, she’ll be back soon!

Read all about it on Creative Review hier or click below to see how we designed the experience to help WNO challenge perceptions of opera and connect with an entirely new audience.

Learn more about connecting with new audiences via immersive arts

Arcade to commemorate Battle of Britain 80th Anniversary for IWM Duxford

Arcade has been chosen to create an Augmented Reality experience for Imperial War Museums’ (IWM) Battle of Britain 80th anniversary campaign at IWM Duxford.

Working alongside IWM experts and the creative agency Neil A Dawson and Company, we have been tasked with designing and developing an experience that amplifies the message of a print and online campaign that will run in tandem, designed to attract visitors to IWM Duxford to celebrate this milestone anniversary.

Pete Austin, IWM Assistant Director Communications and Marketing, commented “In line with IWM’s new strategy which puts innovation at the centre of all of our marketing campaigns, we wanted to mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain in a way that would engage audiences in the story of the summer of 1940 with new digital technologies. Using augmented and virtual reality in a marketing campaign was a new innovation for IWM so we were looking for an agency who could walk us through the technicalities while demonstrating a genuine passion for the subject matter. Arcade came up with some brilliant ideas from the outset and we are thrilled to be working with them on this exciting campaign.”

“We were thrilled to discover our pitch for IWM Duxford had been successful,” said Arcade co-founder Alex Book. “We do a lot of work in the heritage space, but few stories have the lasting power and resonance as the Battle of Britain. This is a chance to invite audiences to step into the shoes of the people involved 80 years ago and give a sense of what it might have been like, and we couldn’t be more excited!”

IWM Duxford’s Battle of Britain anniversary will begin on 10 July 2020, 80 years since the battle began. The AR will launch to coincide with the opening of IWM Duxford’s new Battle of Britain exhibitions later this summer.

Coronavirus: Get in touch for a FREE creative brainstorm

As everything shuts down, we’ve been wondering what we can do to help. Our most valuable assets are our experience and creativity, and we are making them available for free.

Our founders will be donating their time to run free creative innovation workshops (conducted over video call of course) to explore low cost, high impact tech-driven solutions to the Coronavirus challenge.

If you’re a visitor attraction, heritage site, retailer, brand or any other organisation wondering how technology might be able to help engage increasingly housebound audiences, get in touch – we’d love to help.

FOR A FREE CREATIVE BRAINSTORM, GET IN TOUCH

Arcade named amongst GB’s leading creative industries entrepreneurs

Arcade founders Jon Meggitt, Simon Hobbs and Alex Book are delighted to have been identified as one of 15 creative industries ‘ones to watch’ in 2020 by Great British Entrepreneurs. Working in conjunction with Starling Bank, Great British Entrepreneurs run a portfolio of products, events and initiatives designed to support entrepreneurs and their ventures, including producing lists of leading entrepreneurs in Britain, across multiple different industries.

Arcade co-founders (from L-R): Alex Book, Jon Meggitt, Simon Hobbs

It’s always nice when hard work is recognised,” said Arcade CEO, Jon Meggitt. “When you’re focused on building a business, especially in an emergent space like immersive technology, it’s easy to fixate on the challenges and lose sight of the accomplishments we’re making every day. Thanks to Great British Entrepreneurs and Starling Bank for reminding us that we’re doing a decent job, and congratulations to all the other creative industries entrepreneurs out there, both on this incredible list and beyond.”