How to succeed in a virtual world

During lockdown, organisations of all kinds have been scrambling to virtualise the way they interact with their audiences. From #MuseumsAtHome to VR conferences, online music festivals to virtual product launches, virtual experiences have, by necessity, taken over.

Lockdown conditions may now be easing, but there is little doubt that the world we emerge back into will be far more virtual than it was before. Here’s a brief look at the impact of Coronavirus on the evolution of immersive experiences, and how they can help you succeed in an increasingly virtual world.

For a quick primer on immersive technologies including augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) check out our 'What is AR / VR' page

The Lasting Impact of COVID-19

Some of the brightest minds today have described Coronavirus as more of an ‘accelerant’ than a catalyst for true change. For most of the industries we work with this is absolutely the case: its lasting impact will not be to change the course of history but to accelerate the arrival of an ever-more virtual and immersive future.

Arts, culture and heritage, vistor attractions, retail, events, FMCG brands, education, corporate comms, sports and more have all been affected by digital disruption and the new opportunities it has brought for audience engagement, but the past few months have forced them to dramatically accelerate. As a result, the professional and social attitudes to immersive experiences that have been evolving for years have now been supercharged.

Related: read more about virtual galleries hier

Interest in shared virtual spaces such as Mozilla Hubs has surged during lockdown

The return to ‘normal’ will of course include going to the shops, visiting museums and enjoying theme parks, but this new normal will also include far more digitally immersive activity that is better integrated into engagement strategies and more readily embraced by post-COVID audiences than ever before.

So the lasting impact of Coronavirus is to force organisations to confront a challenge that has been slowly building for years, by asking the key question: How do I succeed in an increasingly virtual world?


Below are a few important considerations to help you meet this challenge head-on.

Focus on the strategy, not the medium

In many ways, experiences delivered via immersive technologies such as AR and VR are no different to any other types of audience engagement. 

They are fundamentally about telling your stories, expressing your personality, achieving your objectives. As such, they should have the unmistakable stamp of your brand just like any other physical or digital experience would, irrespective of the medium through which they are delivered.

SEA LIFE's Roxy the Ranger amplified their 'Amazing Discovery' brand essence

It's about the experience, not the technology

Similarly, if you want audiences to care about what you’re doing, and perhaps even pay for it, the most important factor of all is the same as it has always been: the quality of the experience. Immersive technology may be new and different, but for an experience to succeed it must be about more than novelty, or audiences will lose interest pretty fast.

The Coronavirus has triggered something of a digital land grab, with organisations suddenly desperate to do ‘something digital’. As a short-term fix this is fine, but today’s audiences are discerning and spoilt for choice; if it’s not worth people’s time, if it fails to be as fun, interesting, challenging, rewarding or generally as ‘good’ as it should be, then audiences won’t engage with it, much less pay for it.

Camden's Music Walk of Fame reveals the artists and music behind the stones

Start with what you've got

Creating new high quality, three-dimensional immersive content remains the easiest way to burn through budgets, so begin by looking at what you have.

Most organisations today are swimming in more digital assets than they can keep track of, and many can be repurposed for immersive experiences, making the process even faster and more affordable.

Even 2D images can be repurposed for exploration in a virtual gallery

It's cheaper than you think

Like any new technology, it has taken time for immersive tech hardware, software and content creation techniques to mature and costs to reduce. The good news is that the ‘early years’ for immersive are well and truly over. 

The industry has grown and the tools we have at our disposal make it easier, quicker and cheaper than ever before to create rewarding experiences for your audiences.

Dippy came back to the Natural History Museum via an inexpensive Snap Lens

Add, don't subtract

Immersive experiences are here to stay, but it would be a mistake to think that they will, or should, replace what has come before. Outside of once-in-a-generation crises such as Covid, traditional audience engagement methods will always have their place.

The very best virtual galleries or museums cannot replicate the experience of standing in front of a physical artefact in an ancient cultural institution, and nor should they try to.

Instead they should complement and enhance, by offering new types of experience that stand alongside those which already exist.

A Vixen's Tale was designed to bring new audiences to Welsh National Opera productions

Business models change

Digital disruption has already forced business models across many sectors to adapt. The disruptive impact of immersive technology has been dramatically magnified by Coronavirus, so more and more commercial models will change over the coming months and years.

People will still pay to park at a gallery, walk through the gates of a visitor attraction, buy food and drink at a heritage site, or be in the same room as interesting contacts at an event, but as the experience economy moves on and becomes more virtual, we all – providers and consumers both – will have to adjust to new commercial relationships. 

By following the approaches above you will be well placed to create experiences that offer real value to your audiences, to the point that they become an important part of your commercial plans. Don’t be the last to embrace the change.

Marvellous Missenden offers a way for audiences to engage with the Roald Dahl Museum outside of its walls


To discuss how the increasingly virtual world is going to impact on you and your sector, and explore the role that immersive technologies can play in helping you adapt, kom in contact.

To find out more about success in an increasingly virtual world

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


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.


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


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

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.

Music Walk of Fame Inducts Amy Winehouse, Madness and Soul II Soul

The Music Walk of Fame is Camden’s newest heritage attraction and is fast becoming one of the hottest music accolades on the planet. This week three new bands and artists were inducted, with stones being laid in the Camden pavements alongside The Who’s inaugural award last November.

Coinciding with BBC 6 Music’s music week, also taking place in iconic Camden Town, ceremonies are being held for Madness, Amy Winehouse and Soul II Soul in the space of just five days.

Fans can join the Madness ‘nutty train’ – the iconic image from the cover of One Step Beyond, spend some time with much-missed idol Amy Winehouse, captured in a famous mural appropriately titled Fallen Angel by street artist Pegasus, and get Back to Life with 80s legends Soul II Soul.

To access all of these AR experiences, and those for The Who and the Music Walk of Fame’s Founding Stone, just download the free app and head to the stones.

Tutankhamun: A Spatial Archive

Arcade has teamed up with Oxford’s Griffith Institute, best known as the custodians of the meticulously assembled and astonishingly extensive archive from Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon’s famous discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, the centenary of which will take place in 2022.

With the upcoming anniversary in mind, the Griffith Institute were keen to meet a technology partner who could offer a new, immersive way for people to engage with the archive, a challenge we were incredibly excited to take on. We were honoured to be given a tour of the archive, where we could not help but feel humbled by the passion and dedication of Carter and his team, evident across the thousands of documents, drawings and photographs contained in the archive.
Alex Book with the Griffith Institute’s Cat Warsi, examining just one of the thousands of documents in the archive

Following a successful application to the newly-established Creative Industries Seed Fund, set up by Oxford University’s TORCH, we have developed the first phase of an AR-driven experience that will help audiences to discover the tomb for themselves, walking in Carter’s footsteps as he undertook one of the most famous explorations of the 20th century. 

In partnership with the Griffith Institute, the goal is to create a publicly accessible experience that offers an entirely new way to bring people closer to the discovery of Tut’s tomb – all made possible by the great Creative Industries work by TORCH.

Oh, Snap! Giant diplodocus discovered on roof of NHM

Arcade Snap Lens of Dippy at the Natural History Museum

A huge dinosaur has popped up at the Natural History Museum…and it’s getting festive!

A new ‘Snap Lens’ has been created by London-based augmented reality experts Arcade that allows visitors to the city’s Natural History Museum to discover a giant, festive diplodocus that appears to have taken up residence on the museum’s roof. The new diplodocus is a scaled-up version of the plaster cast fossilised dinosaur that used to take centre stage in the museum’s famous Hintze Hall and was, from 1979 to 2017, the iconic emblem of the museum.

Snapchat-gebruikers hebben toegang tot de speciaal ontwikkelde Lens wanneer ze zich dicht bij het Natural History Museum bevinden - met name in het zicht van de beroemde ingang aan Cromwell Road in South Kensington. Door de Lens te selecteren en hun telefoon op het gebouw te richten, kunnen ze de diplodocus zien en horen en genieten van het prehistorische winterse tafereel.

Snapchat Lenses are best known for augmenting users’ faces, but in April 2019 the company announced a new type of Lens known as ‘Landmarkers’ – capable of applying augmented reality content to buildings, not faces. Landmarkers are available to Snapchat’s community of creators for free, via its Lens Studio software. Only a small group of buildings globally are available as Landmarkers, and the Natural History Museum was added in August. This was of particular interest to Arcade, who specialise in using augmented reality to create more meaningful connections between people and the physical world around them.

“We couldn’t resist having a bit of fun with the Natural History Museum Landmarker, and what better than bringing back Dippy, or perhaps Dippy’s big brother, as a festive treat?” said Alex Book, Arcade co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer.“We know it’s not a historically accurate model, but hopefully the museum and their wonderful array of palaeontology experts will forgive us. It is Christmas after all!”

The Lens is available for free to all members of the public via the Snapchat app. It was created by Arcade and is not endorsed by or related to the Natural History Museum in any way.

The Music Walk of Fame hits the streets of Camden

Image showcasing the music walk of fame tiles augmented with digital elements

On 19th November 2019, Camden Town, London officially became home to the global Music Walk of Fame. Designed as a new cultural attraction for London, The Music Walk of Fame will become a huge accolade for the music industry. Tuesday saw the augmented reality embedded Founding Stone and the first artist stone unveiled with a special ceremony attended by music legends.

After growing speculation in the weeks leading up to the launch, it was revealed that the recipient of the first ever Music Walk of Fame artist stone were none other than global music icons The Who. Flanked by a moped parade reflecting their famous mod-era heritage, surviving members Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend accepted the accolade from Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie, with the Arcade team present to celebrate the launch and demo the experience to assembled journalists and music royalty.

Arcade were selected as partners to design, create and provide the AR experiences that can be triggered by each stone. At launch, that involves a series of metallic rings that rise from the spinning ‘records’ that each stone is designed to evoke. The rings spin and whirl through the air, reflecting the light and surroundings before resolving as an interactive player through which visitors can enjoy a variety of exclusive film clips and music.

Over time, the AR experiences are expected to develop and push boundaries even further. Visitors to the Walk can expect unseen, rare and exclusive footage, 3D art, augmented reality performances and more. Stay tuned!

Play Video

A Vixen’s Tale launches!

Welsh National Opera Vixen Teaser Image

Arcade is delighted to bring augmented reality to opera with A Vixen’s Tale, a mixed physical and digital experience designed to immerse opera-goers new and old in the story of Leoš Janáček’s iconic The Cunning Little Vixen. The work was commissioned by Welsh National Opera (WNO), and launched at WNO’s Explore Opera Day on October 5th at Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff.

A Vixen’s Tale is a free experience that invites visitors of all ages to step into the world of The Cunning Little Vixen, where they can use augmented reality to experience a hidden world of enchanting narratives. Through playful interactions, immersive illustrations and an arresting soundscape set across five physical arches, visitors will walk with the opera’s Vixen and experience her story for themselves.

A Vixen’s Tale will run until November 3rd, with plans for it to tour nationally and internationally throughout 2020.

Find me a fox and make it Snappy

Snapchat-Enabled Digital Billboard

Arcade have published our first Snapchat lens as a part of our work with Welsh National Opera. To support the immersive experience A Vixen’s Tale, opening in Cardiff on October 5th, we added a hidden surprise to the #WNOfollowthevixen poster campaign across the city.

Using a custom lens for Snapchat, built in Snap’s Lens Studio, we created an AR experience that gives a glimpse of what visitors to A Vixen’s Tale can expect, and introduces the world to the Vixen herself.

A refrain from The Cunning Little Vixen, Leoš Janáček’s opera that is the inspiration for both A Vixen’s Tale and the Snap lens, is used to add an operatic soundtrack.

Snapchat lens features music from The Cunning Little Vixen, opera in 3 Acts, by Leoš Janácek. Revised version by Jiri Zahrádka, by arrangement with Universal Edition A.G. Wien. ‘Bezi liska Tábouru‘ appears courtesy of Decca Classics.

Tickets to The Cunning Little Vixen can be bought hier. A Vixen’s Tale is open to all, for free, at Wales Millennium Centre from October 5th to November 3rd.

Camden Alive partners with Arcade

Camden Alive Promo

We are incredibly proud to announce that the London Borough of Camden has partnered with Arcade on their hugely exciting Camden Alive project.

Camden Alive is an arts and culture platform that celebrates the history and diversity of this famous London borough, bringing to life the stories of its residents with the help of a variety of artists and performers. Arcade has been tasked with creating the Camden People’s Museum, a digital space which will be home to a series of immersive installations that can be experienced in augmented reality at specific locations across the borough or remotely, by residents and visitors alike.

The Camden People’s Museum will challenge preconceptions of what a museum is – it will have no walls, no entry fees, and it will exist entirely in the world around residents and visitors.

Jon Meggitt, CEO and Co-Founder of Arcade, said: “We could not be more thrilled to partner with Camden Council on this pioneering arts and culture project. Arcade is all about building connections between people and places using augmented reality, so the opportunity to immerse residents and visitors alike in the rich stories and unique environments of this iconic borough is a vision that’s very close to our hearts.

“Working alongside the Camden Alive team, the commissioned artists and local residents, we are delighted to be playing our part in creating something truly remarkable that can be enjoyed by all for many years to come.”

We love a good archive… getting stuck in with artists Boris, Brown and Steffi at the Camden Archives

The full press release can be read here: