We are delighted to announce that The Hundred Avatars have been shortlisted in two categories of the prestigious Broadcast Sports Awards 2021. ‘Best Use of Fan Engagement’ rewards work that ‘puts fans at the centre of the action like never before’ – an apt description of the AR avatars that allowed The Hundred audiences to bring their cricketing heroes into their homes and gardens.
Our partners Sky Sports have also been shortlisted for their presentation of the avatars in the ‘Best Sports Graphics for a Live Production’ category, and for overall ‘Best Sport Production’.
The awards take place on November 3rd – wish us luck!
Jim Beam is using web-based augmented reality (WebAR) to turn customers into bartenders where they can mix up their perfect Jim Beam Highball from behind a virtual bar. The experience, which is accessed directly in the mobile browser with no app required, features four virtual bar locations all stocked with Jim Beam varieties, mixers, ice and garnishes.
Customers who access the WebAR experience with their smartphones choose from four different bars including an outdoor patio called Backyard Jams and the high-end Beam Bar. Once selected, the customer places the virtual bar in their space where they are presented with a stocked bar to make their virtual drink. After selecting the right glass, customers need to aim at the selected glass to flick ice into it before swiping on the screen to select between Jim Beam Bourbon, Jim Beam Apple or Jim Beam Honey. After swiping up on the screen to pour the Jim Beam in the glass, customers then pick their mixer and their garnish to complete their drink. For those that chose lemon or lime as a garnish, users need to swipe up to cut the citrus and then pinch on the screen to squeeze it in the glass.
The WebAR experience was created in 8th Wall by Arcade, in a collaboration with brand experience agency, Quantum.
The Virtual Bar WebAR experience ends with the option to take a photo of the Highball just mixed, complete with the list of ingredients you selected. Customers can save the photo and then share it with their friends and social networks. Customers can also choose to move their phone beyond the bar to take a peek at the full virtual bar area and access a “Jim Beam Welcoming Offers” blackboard in the bars to be sent to offers from Jim Beam.
The Jim Beam Always Welcome web app is the one-stop-shop for everything Jim Beam, including the virtual bar, tailored highball suggestions, a flagship global music series and more!
Try it yourself by visiting the new ‘Jim Beam Welcomes‘ digital experience on your mobile.
MunchMunch, de leuke, innovatieve creativiteitstool die de artistieke filosofieën van Edvard Munch viert, werd ontwikkeld door Arcade in samenwerking met MUNCH en Digital Catapult. Ahead of its launch later this year, Digital Catapult – the UK’s leading advanced digital technology innovation centre – has added a comprehensive case study to its ‘Success Stories’ pages.
Lees de case study hier, of om meer te weten te komen en te zien wat meeslepende technologieën voor u kunnen betekenen kom in contact.
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.
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.
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
I’m not talking about what it is, I’m talking about what it means. That phrase. Those words.
I ask, because we tend to use them without much thought. Most of us who are familiar with the technology are aware that there is a gap between those who know AR and those who don’t, yet we still throw the phrase ‘augmented reality’ around without stopping to think about its impact. It’s just AR, isn’t it?
But language matters, especially when we are describing something unfamiliar. As an example, let’s take one of my favourite words: skyscraper. We all know what this is. It’s a big, tall building. Of course it is.
But look again: Skyscraper. Skyscraper! Sky! Scraper! When people first heard it in the 1880s, referring to a building taller than ten stories (!), it must have been a stunning and slightly terrifying concept: a building that scrapes the sky?! But over time, as it became just another noun like all the rest, we no longer saw the concept or its scary connotations — just the thing it described. What it gained in clarity, it lost in emotion. Simultaneously established and eroded by familiarity. But where ‘skyscraper’ was coined to evoke a sense of wonder, ‘augmented reality’ seems to be far less benign.
Augmented. Reality. Aug. Men. Ted. Re. Al. I. Ty.
To many coming across these seven syllables for the first time, it’s not just a mouthful, it’s intimidating. “I understand ‘augmented’”, someone might think, (although I couldn’t tell you the last time I heard anyone use it in everyday speech), “and I understand ‘reality’ – but put them together and it sounds…unfamiliar. Complicated. Maybe even dangerous. A threat. You’re doing what to reality? Ahh, it’s for techies, isn’t it, and maybe kids? Either way, I don’t think it’s for me.”
This represents a genuine threat, at least to those of us who believe passionately in its potential to fundamentally change the way we live. That’s why it always amazes me that there are some who seem to revel in the barrier this creates. I guess it offers them a sense of superiority, a feeling that they have ascended to a higher plane of existence reserved for the initiated. The enlightened.
But that’s crazy: underneath the intimidating label lies a technology whose very existence is pure inclusivity. It is the next phase of the democratisation of information, knowledge and experience. Untethered at last from 2D screens and set free in 3D environments — or ‘the world’, as we tend to call it.
What happens now?
I see three options from here. Either ‘augmented reality’ follows ‘skyscraper’ in being accepted and integrated into everyday language, losing along the way the scary, veiled menace contained in the language of its name. Or it remains, lurking, looming, leering and generally getting in the way of the thing so many of us want, which is widespread normalisation and mass uptake of this thing we call AR.
Or we find a better alternative.
I can live with the first, I pray we avoid the second, but my vote is for the third.
I’ve mentioned before that ‘digital reality’ — as a complementary partner to ‘physical reality’ — has some appeal. It doesn’t distinguish between AR and VR, but that distinction is starting to lose its relevance anyway. If I step through a portal in AR into a fully virtual environment does it become VR? If there’s a hole in a VR environment than allows a glimpse of a user’s surroundings is it AR? Frankly: who cares?!
Today, I would argue that ‘augmented reality’ doesn’t mean what we want it to. We need something welcoming, inclusive and democratic, just like the technology itself. And AR, right now, doesn’t do that job.
Mass uptake of immersive technologies is agreed by most to be inevitable; it’s a question of when, not if. But for that to happen, the barriers we have almost wilfully erected around the technology have to be pulled down. And what better place to start than with the words we use to describe it.
You may already wear them. You may occasionally wear them, like sunglasses or reading glasses. Or, like me, you may no longer wear them.
I wore prescription glasses for a few years but never got on with them. I didn’t like how they felt. I was forever forgetting them. I was worried about losing or breaking them. If I was hot they would keep sliding down my nose. I tried contact lenses, which were better but also caused irritation and discomfort, and were a hassle. So in the end I went for laser eye surgery and never looked back.
But as someone working in the immersive technology space, I have long been aware that my glasses-free lifestyle may be under threat.
Amongst technologists there is a near-universal vision for the future that positions glasses as the centrepiece of immersive living, itself now seen as an inevitability rather than a prediction.
The ‘wearables’ arms race has been underway for many years, and the majority is focused on glasses — or at least objects you can wear on your head. Augmented reality is, surprisingly for many, a decades-old concept, with mid-late 20th century AR hardware almost exclusively taking the form of unsexily-monikered ‘Head Mounted Displays’.
Then came the smartphone with its evolving array of cameras, and the focus shifted, at least in the short-term. The industry now had a viable means of delivering AR experiences that was free of many of the issues dogging wearables — some technical such as field-of-view, some aesthetic (the primary stumbling block for Google Glass), some commercial (a Magic Leap One headset starts at well over $2000), but mostly about distribution; there are 3.3 BILLION smartphones in the world (at the last count) not including AR-enabled tablets and other devices.
Smartphones remain the most democratic and effective hardware for AR, but are seen as a stepping stone in the natural evolution of Kelly’s ‘Mirrorworld’; the best we have today, but edging ever closer to obsolescence once AR glasses reach maturity and take over.
So how long have we got before it’s glasses all the way?
The indications are that it’s not far away. Every digital expo puts its immersive wearables front-and-centre, as a vision of the tantalisingly-near future. Magic Leap, Microsoft’s HoloLens and even Google Glass are aimed primarily at the enterprise landscape from warehouses to operating theatres to battlefields, where looks aren’t as important as function. North, Vuzix, Nreal, Bose, Amazon, Snap and many others are exploring a more fashion-led, consumer-focused approach.
But the biggest excitement is continuing to build around Apple’s long-anticipated AR glasses launch (latest best guess: sometime next year). The theory is that if Apple does what Apple always does (come late to market but blow everyone else away with unassailable form AND function), then that will be the tipping point: a ‘normalised’ lifestyle choice that opens up mass, globalised access to immersive living.
As someone working in immersive technology this is incredibly exciting. As someone who has gone to relatively extreme lengths to avoid wearing glasses (actual lasers shooting into my eyeballs), I am left wondering if I’m the only one with a mild sense of unease as we move towards a world where we all have to wear them in order to be a part of modern society, or if others feel it too?
Either way, it’s coming. So we’d better get used to it.
The most common way for people to experience Augmented Reality (AR) today is via their mobile phones as opposed to wearable devices like glasses or even device-free AR. For a variety of reasons including cost, availability and social norms, most agree this is likely to remain the status quo for the foreseeable future.
One thing that does look set to change is the way the phones themselves access AR content. To date, downloadable apps have been the main source but this creates a challenge: not only do we have to make the experience itself appealing, we also have to motivate people to download an app in order view it.
A now-infamous 2017 study in the US confirmed that, on average, the majority of consumers download zero apps per month. This created a bit of a panic for mobile immersive tech businesses – what are we going to do if no-one is downloading apps?!
Well, let’s not panic just yet. First, once you get beyond the headline the data actually showed that many people do download apps given sufficient reason to do so. And second, another potentially more powerful answer lies in the emergent space of app-less AR experiences, or what has been coined ‘WebAR’.
This is the growing ability of the web browsers in our phones to recognise, position and serve up AR content, without the need for any app downloads. An example comes from Google, who are using WebAR to add AR search results to certain objects, including many animals (left).
Here, Arcade CEO Jon Meggitt and MD of Arcade Netherlands, Sten Duindam, about the rise of WebAR, what it means for the industry and, most importantly, the impact it could have on the role of AR in everyday life.
What is Web AR and why does it matter?
Jon Meggitt: WebAR is the catch-all term for describing the provision of augmented reality experiences via the mobile web browser. It is being driven forward by individual developers and large technology companies alike, who have all understood why it’s going to be such a game-changer when the public can access AR just as easily as they do a website today.
What are the biggest benefits that WebAR offers?
Sten Duindam: In many ways WebAR is just much less hassle for the user. That’s for two reasons: it removes the barrier of app download and it works on older devices.
JM: Exactly, those two advantages over app-based AR combine to create a much higher chance of mass user adoption, which means the value and potential reach of an AR experience that we create goes through the roof.
What limitations are there in using WebAR vs native apps?
JM: Well, it is true that the mass accessibility of WebAR does come with a few compromises, for now at least.
SD: When you develop apps for a specific operating system like iOS or Android, you can leverage the most efficient practices and functionalities to that operating system. But you can’t do that with WebAR, where it’s one experience for everyone. You also don’t get full access to a device’s computing power. Native apps use the processors of the device, whereas web applications are limited by the processing speed of the various browsers.
JM: Which is why the industry typically estimates that WebAR functionality is around 12 months behind what can be achieved in native apps, so you do have to take that into account when designing for WebAR. But firstly that gap is closing as more of the big players recognise the importance and value that WebAR offers, and second it’s not always a bad thing to be a bit conservative in the AR features you use – they tend to be more reliable!
How would you advise organisations interested in AR to choose which method to pursue – native apps or WebAR?
JM: One of the biggest considerations for almost every project we work on is: “how many people will use it?”. If we’re working with native apps, as we have been for much of our work with Merlin’s SEA LIFE en Madame Tussauds for example, then a big part of the challenge is to work out how to promote the app and motivate people to download it. We can help with marketing, and we’ve got plenty of experience in what works and what doesn’t, but it inevitably puts more responsibility on the client and their marketing teams, which may not always have the resources to give it the focus it needs.
SD: The right approach is to first focus on the concept and only then decide on a technology. But I totally agree with Jon, it is becoming gradually easier to create WebAR experiences that have enough of the AR ‘wow factor’ to deliver against more and more of the briefs we receive, and the seamless access it gives people is incredibly valuable. So it should almost always be part of the consideration.
What are your predictions for the future of mobile AR and what impact is WebAR going to have on the way we use AR in general?
JM: We are living through what our CSO, Alex Book, calls the ‘normalisation’ of AR. With WebAR making it easier and easier for people to access and use AR as a part of their everyday lives, it is undoubtedly one of the big factors that is going to help AR fulfil its potential, and justify the excitement that’s been surrounding it for so many years.
SD:Exactly. We all know wearables are going to become the norm at some point, but when that is is still anyone’s guess. But in my view the biggest step towards wearables isn’t necessarily technology; the audience needs to play with AR some more and get accustomed to it. Once it is normalised, the mass adoption of AR that follows is going to be the thing that finally makes wearables normal too – and WebAR is going to have a huge part to play.
If you’re interested in the effect of WebAR or would like to discuss a potential project, please contact Jon at our London office on email@example.com, or Sten at Arcade Netherlands on firstname.lastname@example.org.
BREAKING NEWS: Chaos descends across the city of London. An unknown creature soars over Trafalgar Square. A giant leaps off a roof at Covent Garden, then disintegrates into dust. Ordinary people transform into comic-book characters, follow multi-coloured roads and stop to watch folktales being told in the trees.
It’s pure madness, yet total entertainment.
The [AR]T Walk by Apple superimposed colour and creativity onto a drizzly Friday morning.
We set off on the 1.5k walk, with ‘Beats’ headphones around our necks and the latest iPhone XR in our pockets, curious as to how the tech-giant Apple ‘does AR’.
Here are the four lessons for AR experiences.
1. Not everything needs an explanation
The meaning of art is tricky to pinpoint and often artists strive to create work that’s ambiguous. Add the fact that AR is relatively new to society and can prove tricky to get to grips with – art and AR combined is a challenging mix. But somehow, it worked, and I praise Apple for taking the risk.
As stand-alone digital art installations, we had little idea of what to expect. We were given a brief introduction to the artist and the name of the piece – for example Pipilotti Rist, ‘International Liquid Finger Prayer’ – then that’s it, we’re left to our own devices, quite literally.
We all hold up the phones and stand waiting for something to happen.
All of a sudden, a screeching bubble-like creature shoots upwards and we all try desperately to follow it. The creature seems directionless – even the audio is purposefully distorted so we can barely make sense of the words. Nobody knows what it is, or exactly what it’s saying, and that was all part of the joyful, if slightly unsettling experience.
When developing an AR application, it’s important to distinguish between what the user can be allowed to interpret on their own, and what they have to know before they start. The multiple functions and symbols of an AR application can be difficult for the public to comprehend – and Apple knows it.
Pipilotti Rist, ‘International Liquid Finger Prayer’, in London’s Trafalgar Square
Pipilotti Rist, ‘International Liquid Finger Prayer’, in London’s Trafalgar Square
2. Tell me only what I need to know
Before we set off, our guides provided a briefing session to familiarise us with the technology.
The first skill we needed to practise: anchoring. We were asked to stand in a line and hold out our phones at eye level. We then opened the app and practised, one by one, turning our devices – slowly – towards a designated spot on the wall.
This was a key function throughout the experience and each anchor activated the next digital art installation. However, it became tedious needing to constantly stop and anchor at a random point.
How could this be solved? Make the ‘anchoring’ motion more relevant to the artwork.
The artwork was full of make-believe creatures and it would be interesting if, between art pieces, the users follow one of the creatures with their devices – moving at the same pace and direction. These movements of our device could automatically anchor the user. This would keep us within the digital art world and make the overall experience more seamless.
The second skill: taking pictures and recording video. Our guides asked us to capture a photograph and a video using the buttons – a feature that we constantly used during the experience.
These buttons were a faded white at the bottom of the screen and therefore quite discreet.
Without the guide explaining what they were/what they are used for, we may have only noticed them halfway through the experience when photo opportunities would have passed or worse, not noticed the buttons at all. So it was worth getting clued-up before setting off.
3. The outdoors aren’t always great
As we walked through parts of London full of famous landmarks, the crowds became an issue. I found myself bumping into strangers and avoiding people who were trying to get a glimpse of what I was watching on my device.
So, could we put this experience indoors? Well, not without lessening the effect. Some installations relied on features from the outdoors. In Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg’s installation ‘This is it’, for example, we all needed access to tree trunks. When we held our devices up, the trees turned hollow to reveal a fairy-tale being told inside.
Just as we were all settling in, typical British weather kicked in and raindrops were falling onto our devices. We immediately had to put the phones away to protect it.
The darkening sky was the perfect canvas for Pippaloti’s screaming creature to fly around but whenever the sun came out, I couldn’t look up into the device because it was too bright.
Unless Apple ensured that everyone was equipped with umbrellas and sunglasses before we set off – which is impractical to hold and store – the weather determined if we could have our devices out and held up.
To avoid user frustration, AR should work rain or shine. But for now, however all-powerful Apple are, they can’t control the weather. Not yet, anyway.
Pipilotti Rist, ‘International Liquid Finger Prayer’, in London’s Trafalgar Square
4. My arm hurts
An AR app depends on user interaction, but that doesn’t mean you can ask too much of them. Designers need to be aware that users need moments for the phone to come down, or even go away – and the interaction still needs to flow with those breaks included.
For any AR designers, it’s worth testing: how long you can hold out a phone in front you at eye-level or above? For me it was around 30 seconds, and my fellow walkers seemed to agree. The final two experiences both asked us to hold our phones up high for up to two minutes, which necessitated switching hands, propping up our elbows or employing other tricks to make it more comfortable.
How to ensure the experience is ache-free? Either place breaks into the experience, or cut down the length of time we need to hold our phones in an upwards position. Otherwise you’ll have some pretty uncomfortable users.
I had little exposure to AR before joining Arcade – but experiences like this make clear that AR is already far more widespread than most people realise, and the exciting reality is that society will very soon be using it on a regular basis. And not just for [AR]T Walks.
I’ve always had a bit of an issue with names like ‘augmented reality’, ‘virtual reality’, ‘immersive technology’ and the like. They sound exactly what they are: dreamed up by technology geeks, inspired by science fiction, designed to sound futuristic and literally unbelievable. The result is a lexicon that makes some salivate – you know who you are – but puts many others to sleep. Some in my industry will find this hard to believe, but this type of language, for some, is eye-rollingly dull, off-putting and maybe even a bit intimidating. “This isn’t for you” is the perceived message – in most cases the very opposite of what it is trying to achieve.
So I, for one, am delighted by recent developments where the tech is being relegated to its rightful place in the narrative – i.e. almost invisible. The tech industry often gets a bit carried away and forgets that the experience is king, not the technology.
Google to the fore
Google is leading the way, first with the introduction of its 3D search functionality. Without any big fanfare, it has added a ‘View in 3D’ option to its mobile search. No app download, an incredibly simple interface and within seconds you can be face to face with a giant panda, amongst many other animals (the range of 3D objects is due to expand dramatically). There is still an ‘AR’ tab, but it is a pleasantly understated presence. The result is an experience that makes it seem as if occupying the same physical space as a digital giant panda were the most normal thing in the world – which, as it turns out, it sort of is.
They followed up by announcing that AR functionality is being embedded directly into YouTube, so users can seamlessly engage with content they are watching, such as trying on cosmetics during a YouTube tutorial. Early screenshots show that the focus is on the experience – ‘AR’ is nowhere to be seen.
And Google’s good work is set to be compounded by the arrival of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, the latest ‘planet-scale’ offering from Niantic (by absolutely no coincidence at all, an ex-Google company). Niantic’s monster hit, Pokemon GO, is often cited as the game that introduced AR to the mainstream but, as anyone who’s played it knows, the AR elements are far from integral to the gameplay. Harry Potter appears to be different – AR-driven gaming is fundamental. But like the Google examples above, the important bit is the experience and how good it is, not how ‘AR’ it is.
THE RISE OF THE ‘DIGITAL REALITY’ TOOLKIT
A recent Deloitte report on immersive storytelling uses the phrase ‘digital reality’ to describe immersive experiences, as distinct from ‘physical reality’. I like it. It might only be a small nuance to some, but the world is already so familiar with the notion of ‘digital’ – and a sense of familiarity is exactly what the immersive tech industry needs from the audiences it seeks to engage.
It seems to me that we are gradually realising the truth: AR and other immersive tech are simply new creative tools that we can use to solve old creative challenges. Incredible, mind-blowing tools, but still just tools. Tools for digital reality. How very normal.