Arcade launches Zog trail with Magic Light Pictures and Forestry England

Introducing Zog: A Forest Adventure!

We are delighted to announce the launch of our latest immersive experience, Zog: A Forest Adventure, created with Magic Light Pictures for Forestry England.

Using the very latest augmented reality technology, the free app brings to life lovable dragon Zog and some of his friends from the much-loved Zog film, based on the picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, as children and their families follow new interactive trails at 26 Forestry England sites across the country.

Launching on 30 January, the self-led trails encourage children to get exploring and learn more about forests and the trees, plants and wildlife they contain. Featuring lots of bonus activities, the Zog: A Forest Adventure app gives users the chance to interact with the 3D characters from the film as they discover how they can care for the forest and how the forests can care for them in return.

Inspired by the beloved books by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, Zog: A Forest Adventure invites children to join the dragon, Zog, and his friends on a thrilling journey through the forest. After downloading the app, kids can follow a trail and complete a series of exciting challenges that are brought to life through the magic of AR.

We are proud to have partnered with Magic Light Pictures, the creators behind the successful Gruffalo Spotter apps, to bring this experience to life. Zog: A Forest Adventure is the perfect way to get out into the great outdoors and we can’t wait for families to explore the forests and discover the world of Zog and his friends.

Alex Sanson, Senior Brand Manager at Magic Light said: “Forestry England sites offer the perfect classroom for budding little dragons. The new Zog trails offer a great opportunity to young explorers to learn about all the wonderful ways our forests can look after us and how we can look after them. The AR app adds a fun extra element so that children can explore the character, the story and the forest in a new way.”

Venture into the forest to meet Zog and his friends!

Jon Meggitt, CEO at Arcade said: “Several of us at Arcade have young children and know first-hand just how much Zog means to them. Bringing him and his friends to life in magical AR, and giving families even more reasons to get out into forests across the country, has been one of the most exciting and rewarding projects we have worked on. We’re very proud of the result and can’t wait to see all the little dragons earning their golden stars just like Zog!”

The Zog app adds an exciting extra dimension to the hugely popular Zog family forest trails, and follows the runaway success of Magic Light’s BAFTA-nominated Gruffalo Spotter apps, originally launched with Forestry England in 2017.

The Zog: A Forest Adventure app is available from from 30 January 2023. For more details and to download the app for free on iOS or Android please visit https://www.forestryengland.uk/zog.

We’ve been using ChatGPT’s language model for 18 months – and it’s awesome

Alone Together with ChatGPT's language model

As ChatGPT has been making headlines across every corner of the internet over the past couple of months, it’s worth remembering that the incredible technology behind it – OpenAI‘s GPT-3 language model – has actually been around for quite a bit longer. In fact, we have been working with it for the past 18 months, and I thought it would be useful to reflect on our experience.

As far back as mid/late 2021, we chose GPT-3 as the engine to drive our upcoming immersive AI short film series, Alone Together, produced with Dustin Harvey from XO Secret and Afro Viking Pictures. From the moment we integrated it into our app architecture we were blown away by its capability to mimic human speech behaviour, and it continues to amaze us every day.

Alone Together is a collection of episodes in which users watch a dramatic situation unfold between two characters, before finding themselves thrust into one of the roles and tasked with continuing the conversation. They are free to further explore the drama or to veer off and ask the character absolutely anything they want. Whatever the user decides, the character responds in an astonishingly human way – all thanks to GPT-3.

Users can follow the narrative or ask the characters anything they want

A hit at SXSW

Our goal was to explore the boundaries of AI chat in a creative context, and GPT-3 was by far the most promising of the language models available. And it certainly caught the attention of visitors to our demo at SXSW last year, being one of the first implementations of the technology in a creative medium.

The experience goes like this:

Watch a short film episode. After 2-3 minutes the linear film seamlessly becomes interactive, with the user taking the position of the main protagonist, but also now in control of the camera – with which they can look around the film set in 360 degrees. An accurate avatar of another character from the film is sitting opposite the user and speaks to them. The user talks back, and is understood by the avatar, leading them into a conversation. After a couple of minutes, the film becomes linear again.

For the SXSW demo we had developed a single short narrative, but have now developed this into a four-episode series, with each episode both a discrete experience and part of an overarching whole. To avoid any spoilers I won’t go into any more details just yet!

On the path to true human-AI conversation

The more important point, at least for those of us interested in the tech, is what’s happening inside the app. To deliver the user experience above, we complete the following sequence of events in under two seconds:

  • Capture the user’s voice as an audio file (using custom algorithm to determine when user has started and stopped a sentence)
  • Convert the audio to text using iOS native Speech-to-Text engine
  • Send the resulting text to our GPT-3 model using OpenAI’s GPT-3 API
  • Get resulting text response from GPT-3
  • Send resulting text to Microsoft’s Text-to-Speech service
  • Get resulting audio file from Microsoft and play in the app
  • Synchronise the avatar to the resulting audio using SALSA lip-sync plugin
  • Repeat

The result is AI interaction which is getting closer and closer to true human conversational behaviour. Its uses are clearly vast and widespread, but in our case we are thrilled to have successfully used it to unleash entirely new forms of creative expression.

ChatGPT will continue to astonish, terrify, delight and anger the world, but our experience with the GPT-3 model behind it demonstrates the mind-bending creative possibilities that are unlocked by this incredible advanced technology.

Alone Together is coming to festivals this February, with a wider release scheduled for later in 2023.

Jon Meggitt is Co-founder and CEO of Arcade.

jon@arcade.ltd

The Hundred Cricket Attax Cards Brought To Life In AR

Many of us remember fondly the thrill of opening a new pack of stickers or cards, seeing which sporting heroes we had picked up this time. Got. Got. Need! Ooh, a shiny!

But how awesome would it have been for those players to leap up out of the cards and show off their skills right in front of us? Well, now they can!

A NEW KIND OF COLLECTIBLE

The world of collectible cards took leap into the future with the release of this year’s Topps Cricket Attax, a set of cards featuring all the superstars from The Hundred, cricket’s newest and most exciting competition.

Not only could fans build up their collection of players from all the teams, they could also see many of them leap up out of the cards and show off their signature skills in magical WebAR!

By simply scanning the QR code on the back of the limited edition cards, fans could open a special web page using just their mobile browser, and point their device at the card to unlock the player as a 3D avatar.

Enjoy watching the player show what makes them so special, pause or slow down the motions to get a unrivalled view of their techniques, and take a photo or video to keep and share.

MEET THE PLAYERS

Topps Cricket Attax AR was built on WebAR platform 8th Wall to complement ‘Meet The Players’, the ground-breaking AR experience that lets fans get even closer to the avatars via the Sky Sports and The Hundred apps.

Users can enjoy a whole variety of skills and even step through portals to visit the players’ home grounds! Learn more about Meet the Players, including the motion capture and avatar creation process hier.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT WEB AR, GET IN TOUCH

National Gallery Launches on Roblox

Keeper Council is a free, family-friendly game for Roblox inspired by The Keeper of Paintings augmented reality experience at The National Gallery in London.

Designed to offer 7-11 year olds a way to engage with the World of Keepers even if they are not at the Gallery, Keeper Council is a combined ‘tycoon’ and ‘obby’ Roblox game that invites kids to explore the magical crossroads where Keepers from all over the world meet up to hone their skills and catch up on all the latest Keeper goss.

Players are challenged to adventure through the mystical Keeper Council world, meeting different Keepers, completing their quests and being rewarded with masterpieces from The National Gallery so they can build their very own collection.

Like the Keeper of Paintings game itself, Keeper Council was developed in collaboration with a diverse set of young audiences, with over 80 children helping the Arcade team to create a game that met their very high standards!

Keeper Council represents an exciting new approach to engaging children for the Gallery and a first for the entire sector on Roblox, which was selected as the ideal platform to develop a game for remote audiences given its near-universal familiarity amongst the target age group.

"The result is a truly innovative experience that young people will love, whether they’ve been to The National Gallery before or not."
Professor James Bennett
Director of StoryFutures
"The way the project has evolved with the children through the design process is really special."
Lawrence Chiles
Head of Digital, The National Gallery
"We are grateful to the Gallery for letting us set this new benchmark in cultural engagement with them. We can't wait for families to meet the Keeper Council and get playing!"
Jon Meggitt
Jon Meggitt
Co-Founder, Arcade

Keeper Council and The Keeper of Paintings were commissioned by The National Gallery and StoryFutures, Royal Holloway, University of London, as part of StoryFutures China, a research and development project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). StoryFutures China is led by Brunel Design School, Brunel University London.

Read the full press release and coverage on The National Gallery website hier.

The game is free to play and currently available on desktop and laptop on Roblox hier.

Game. Set. Snap! at Wimbledon

Emma Raducanu, star of our AR magic mirror experience at Wimbledon

A fantastic couple of weeks of sport came to an end on Sunday 10th July, but not before thousands of Wimbledon visitors got the chance to have their photo taken with superstar HSBC Global Ambassadors Emma Raducanu and Tim Henman!

Well ok, not actually with them, but the next best thing – an AR pic next to a virtual version of these tennis heroes.

This activation was developed for HSBC, a partner of The Championships, Wimbledon. In collaboration with CSM Sports and Entertainment, ‘Game, Set, Snap’ was installed at two Wimbledon fan zones for the duration of the two-week tournament.

The experience uses ‘magic mirror’ techniques, employing a combination of touchscreen, 4K camera, media player and 2D chroma key holograms to create the effect. Each session also generates a unique URL which users can access via QR code, with a simple web interface and backend allowing fans to download and share their images privately and securely.

Although crowd favourite Emma was eliminated early, the good news for fans was that they could still meet her in a shot of their choice, and walk away with a souvenir photo to share with the friends and family.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT IMMERSIVE FAN ENGAGEMENT, GET IN TOUCH

The Keeper of Paintings launches at The National Gallery

Children and Augmented Reality Characters in the National Gallery

The Keeper of Paintings and the Palette of Perception, the free mobile-based immersive game set at The National Gallery in London, has officially launched to the public.

The AR app is the first of its kind launched by The National Gallery, and has been created with the help of over 80 children.

Having been selected as winners of the StoryFutures China Storylab commission in early 2021, the launch is the culmination of a year-long project by the Arcade team, working in collaboration with The National Gallery, StoryFutures and a wider partnership group including Royal Holloway University of London and Brunel University of London.

WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF THE KEEPERS

This child-led experience takes place in the National Gallery, London but also, through augmented reality, a wider imagined world of Keepers where a group of magical beings who help care for some of our world’s most precious objects. 

Young Gallery visitors are asked to help guide a fictitious Keeper of Paintings to find a lost ‘Palette of Perception’ – a magical object with special gems that gives them ‘powers’ – to engage with the paintings digitally. As they move through the Gallery responding to the app’s story, a new digital world is revealed where visitors can solve puzzles, find hidden secrets, and collect the gems connected to the paintings.

The app is designed to be fun and rewarding for children and their families, but its primary goal is to foster interest and engagement with the Gallery’s masterpieces. The challenges within the game all require the kids to explore the art with their eyes, and include regular breaks in which they are prompted to put the phones away and chat about the paintings with their friends and family.

The cleverness of the app design is that the rewards only come via close study [of the paintings] with the naked eye.

The Sunday Times
Video afspelen

Jon Meggitt, Co‐Founder of Arcade and lead developer, says: ‘We were absolutely thrilled to win the opportunity to develop this experience in partnership with this special and talented group, but working alongside StoryFutures, the National Gallery, the wonderful kids of the Children’s Advisory Group and all the other partners has exceeded every one of our expectations.’

Lawrence Chiles, Head of Digital at the National Gallery, London, says: ‘It’s fantastic that we are able to launch our first dedicated app for children that creates a new perspective on the paintings at the National Gallery. Arcade, the children and all the partners involved have created something really magical.’

Professor James Bennett, Director of StoryFutures at Royal Holloway, University of London, says: ‘The National Gallery and Arcade have taken on a massive innovation challenge. This project shows what can be achieved in linking great storytelling with innovative new immersive technologies. Perhaps the most exciting thing is that the story of The Keeper of Paintings has only just begun.’

DOWNLOAD TODAY

The Keeper of Paintings and the Palette of Perception is designed for 7-11 year olds, will run at The National Gallery for at least 12 months, and can be downloaded for free on the Apple and Google stores now.

To plan your visit to The National Gallery, please visit www.nationalgallery.org.uk/keeper

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE KEEPER OF PAINTINGS OR TO TALK TO THE TEAM, GET IN TOUCH

Old Operating Theatre Goes Immersive

AR hologram of doctor

The Old Operating Theatre, as Europe’s oldest surviving operating theatre, has some astonishing stories to tell. Standing in the space, you can almost hear the echoes of 19th century surgeons carrying out amputations with no anaesthetic as dozens of smoking students shouted their approval or concern.

The museum is open to the public near London Bridge and offers a chance to step back through history – but now gives visitors an opportunity to hear these stories from one of the surgeons themselves, thanks to the magic of augmented reality.

Visitors to the Old Op can use an app to meet Mr Benjamin Travers, a renowned British surgeon who was appointed as lead demonstrator at Old St Thomas’ Hospital and was in charge when the women’s operating theatre was created.

Mr Travers appears as an AR hologram and welcomes visitors to the operating theatre, assuming them to be medical students late for his latest class. Across three short interactions he explains the surgery of Mrs Elizabeth Raigen, a patient whose injuries required her leg to be amputated below the knee, a procedure described at the time in The Lancet, one of the oldest medical journals in the world. Hear all about this fascinating – if slightly gruesome – surgery, from the surgeon himself!

Mr Travers augmented reality experience is live at The Old Operating Theatre now, and is free with admission. Book your museum ticket hier.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT AUGMENTED REALITY FOR ARTS & CULTURE OR TO TALK TO THE TEAM, GET IN TOUCH

Testers Wanted! Keeper of Paintings goes into Beta at the National Gallery

The Keeper of Paintings and the Palette of Perception, the new immersive game set at The National Gallery in London, is being Beta-tested by children and their families throughout the half-term week, February 12th-20th.

This is the last major milestone before the full public launch of the experience at Easter, and is the result of nearly a year of development by the Arcade team, working in collaboration with The National Gallery, StoryFutures and a wider partnership group including Royal Holloway University of London, Brunel University of London and Foremost.

HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED

If you are a parent or carer of 7-11 year old children and would enjoy spending an hour or so having fun playing together in the iconic surrounds of The National Gallery, click the image or link to sign up!

ABOUT THE KEEPER OF PAINTINGS

Step into a hidden world of art and magic at The National Gallery. Have you got what it takes to help the Keeper of Paintings and find the lost Palette of Perception? The Keeper of Paintings and the Palette of Perception is a free mobile-based immersive adventure that encourages children to explore one of the world’s most iconic galleries and learn about some of the greatest artworks ever created. The child-led experience takes place in the physical world of the National Gallery but also – through the magic of augmented reality – in the fictional storyworld of the Keepers, a mysterious group of magical beings who watch over some of our world’s most precious treasures. Suitable for ages 7-11. Families participating in the Beta testing will help to shape the final experience due to launch at Easter, and will receive an Amazon voucher in thanks for their time.

Lipton Ice Tea Goes Festive

Following the hugely successful ‘Share Some Sunshine‘ campaign over the summer, Lipton Ice Tea wanted to extend the experience and adapt it for the winter months ahead.

During the summer, consumers could bring out a joyful bright Lipton sun with a nod of their head, and play with a series of fun smiles and sunglasses that were linked to limited edition pack designs.

For the winter, the brand wanted to keep the successful formula but with a bucketload of festive spirit thrown in! Flashing holly tree glasses, Santa beards, presents and more were all designed and built in to the new effect on Instagram, and launched in the month running up to Christmas.

We are again working with our friends at global design agency Design Bridge, and are so excited to give consumers a new way to enjoy some festive cheer, Lipton Ice Tea-style!

Check out the full story hier, or try it out yourself on Instagram by scanning the code below!

Hope Sculpture Unveiled In Glasgow and on Social Media AR

The Hope Sculpture started as a conversation with Ramboll and became a gift from 50 companies to Glasgow. It is a testament to the power of collaboration and dedication to deliver a better future

Steuart Padwick

The Hope Sculpture is a 23-metre high monument designed by Steuart Padwick, newly unveiled in Glasgow’s stunning Cuningar Loop. It features an anonymous child embracing the surrounding nature and reaching out to a greener, hopeful future, and comes at a critical time for the future of the planet and all that live on it.

The child stands atop 20m high elegant columns that take their form from the brick chimney stalks that once littered the East End of Glasgow, with the entire sculpture constructed using low carbon, reclaimed, recycled or sustainable materials, of which almost all have been locally sourced.

The team behind The Hope Sculpture have developed an impressive and diverse partnership of over 50 organisations whose generosity has made the project possible. Arcade was approached to add an immersive element to the experience, offering a way for those unable to visit the sculpture in person to participate and show their support.

The result is an augmented reality effect that lets Facebook and Instagram users place their very own Hope Sculpture wherever they are in the world, and pose with it for selfies that can be shared with the hashtag #myhopesculpture.

We are proud to be a part of The Hope Sculpture team, and pleased to be able to play a role in raising the awareness and engagement with this wonderful and important project.

Facebook users can access the effect hier, and Instagram users hier. The effects work on mobile and tablet.

For more on The Hope Sculpture, follow the project on TwitterInstagramFacebook or LinkedIn.

Get in touch to find out more