Augmented Reality software solutions with Diota.

We caught up with event supporters and speakers at this year’s event Diota, to find out how they’re providing software solutions centred around Augmented Reality, and to ask how they see Augmented and Virtual Reality technologies developing in the future.

Could you start by telling our readers about Diota Augmenting Industries and the services you provide?

Diota provides software solutions centered around Augmented Reality to enable large scale industrial players to link human and digital to increase their industrial performance. On the one hand, these solutions bring digital data in operational spaces to assist human operations; on the other hand they take data collected in the field to information systems to allow optimizing industrial processes. It creates a real synergy between digital data and human know-how, and this synergy generates performance both in the back office and in operational areas.

From which industries are you currently finding the highest demand for AR products and support?

Augmented reality is relevant in any industrial environment where operators have to carry out complex tasks, at any stage of the product life cycle. However, depending on the industry, augmented reality will be used differently. For example in the heavy industry, particularly aerospace, but also rail and shipbuilding, where operators need assistance to assemble unique products whose configuration varies, AR is for now mainly applied in manufacturing processes.

In the automotive industry, AR proves to be particularly relevant to help to design and configure cars, or else to produce and control prototypes. Another example can be taken in the chemical industry where AR considerably improves the understanding and mastering of complex phenomena or enhances training to risk prevention. We mainly work with these above mentioned industry sectors where not only demand is mature,
but also ROI has been verified.

diota2

What is it that makes Diota a leader in the AR field?

Our various collaborations with industrial partners have enabled us to observe that the demands and use cases of industrial companies could interbreed even if they had needs that were their own. We also found that key factors for them to move on to an operational phase with Augmented Reality were the flexibility the solution, and its capability to integrate their existing software and hardware environments, which is synonymous of ROI. So we took an early decision to develop a true generic software solution that would enable them to create with full autonomy Augmented Reality projects in direct connection with standard software solutions like PLM they already use for their 3D models and instruction sheets. Based on breakthrough technological assets, among which a marker less, robust and accurate tracking technology exclusive to us, we have created a multi-use, multi-support and plug-and-play software solution.

In a few clicks, an AR project can be created directly in the PLM and exported via our plugin DiotaConnect. This project can then be immediately played in our software platform DiotaPlayer. Moreover, the same project can be used in the operational space through various devices (tablets, sunglasses, projective systems). Finally, during its use, the user can write comments, take pictures, carry out quality controls the statuses of which are automatically recorded…All the data collected can be transferred directly to the back office, via a pdf reporting or, for some data, a synchronous connection to the information system.

Thanks to this comprehensive offer, and our partnerships with major integrators, our clients are now deploying AR across workstations and industrial sites, with great easiness as no expertise in AR is needed, neither in the back office nor in the operational space. We are no longer talking about proof of concepts in AR, but well about deployments at broad industrial scale, which contributes to a certain leadership of Diota in the field of industrial Augmented Reality.

What are the biggest challenges you face working in the AR space?

One of the biggest challenges is likely to make AR acceptable by operators, who are the diota1main users in the end. We must not forget that not only these new tools involve a change in their habits and work methods, but also that technology has often been opposed to human, and may be received with some reluctance. We do believe that digital technologies, as we see and provide them, are on the contrary to the service of human know-how which is irreplaceable. We now have to step up our education efforts as well as supporting change in collaboration with our industrial partners for this message to be the most audible possible.

Do you feel that VR technology has a future outside of entertainment? For example, could you see any potential for VR to be used to help improve processes and service offerings in B2B industries?

Definitely, VR has potential outside of entertainment, especially but not only for education and training, for industry, the medical field… In this respect we see a true convergence of VR and AR.

Do you have any plans to work with VR technology?

It makes no doubt to us that AR reaches its full potential when it is in synergy with other technologies, especially with VR. So, quite naturally we are working closely with providers of VR solutions to new offers. We will have the opportunity to give a preview of joint solutions at our event “Augmenting Industries Day” by Diota on December 02.

What are you looking forward to the most about this year’s VR & AR World event?

VR and AR are among the technologies that have the wind in their sails. It is of course good for us (laughs), but a drawback can be that this craze, fed by example with games that buzz like Pokemon go, hides aspects a little more down to earth, less sexy but especially important in this period of time where the industry of the future, the digital factory…are not just hot topics but critical issues that shape our future, the way we work as well as the way we live… We count on the VR & AR World event to highlight these aspects and bring together all the best expertise and insights.

You can find out more about Diota, including where you can find them at VR & AR World here.

Huawei: VR in Networking Technology

huawei-header-image

Taking place from 19-20 October 2016 at ExCeL London, VR & AR World 2016 is Europe’s biggest VR and AR event, and is being sponsored and promoted by HUAWEI Network Technology Laboratory Attracting co-participation from leading authentic experts in the VR network industry Huawei come together with the world’s top players, such as Vodafone, British Telecom, Deutsche Telekom and Nokia.

During the event, HUAWEI will release its first VR Ready Network innovative solution and prototype in the industry. VR Ready Network innovative solution, composing of non-congestion network architecture, latency optimized overlay network (Live-MDN), deterministic low latency network (Hard-TCP), and next generation high throughput transport layer. Combined with various business scenarios, they will give solutions, and in-depth discussions with a number of partners about how to co-operate, taking into consideration their own network operation issues.

Huawei’s sessions at VR & AR World 2016


 

VRAR-blog-banner

VR & AR World, ExCeL London, 19-20 October 2016

There’s still time! If you’d like to meet other VR and AR professionals and find out more about how both virtual and augmented reality are being used across a wide range of industries, and how companies plan to use them in the future, visit the VR & AR World event website.

Exploring the possibilities Virtual Reality technology brings to the world of television

Ahead of his session at this year’s VR & AR World, Robert Amlung, Head of Digital Strategy at ZDF German Television, discusses the possibilities that virtual reality technology brings to TV.

zdf-national-broadcaster-blog

For ZDF, VR is still in its very beginning. For a television company, improving the image experience has always been natural. From the invention of colour television to fully immersive 360° video – ZDF is keen on having first-hand experience of what is new and what is possible. This being said, we fully acknowledge that the road to go before VR and AR will be anywhere like mainstream is still long and winding. Is it worthwhile to start going it now? At ZDF, we think the answer is yes. And, for the first time in television, this is not due to improved television sets. It’s another end device that calls the shots: it’s the smartphone. Whether it be 360° video, full VR or any AR functionality – it’s always the smartphone that paves the way to the mainstream.

But, of course, all this would be vain without appealing content. We’ve toyed around this year doing trials. We did some productions around the sites of the Rio Olympics. Some of our journalists used 360° video to report a more immersive image hard to obtain in flat video. We did some 3D CGI to visualize volcanic activities for a documentary in full VR. And we used 4K recording and VR for our documentary “Wolfskinder”, Children of the Wild. Here we tell the story of those children that grow up in the wild forests, far from other humans, nurtured by animals. And of course, we also refer to the most prominent literary figure for this story: Mowgli from the Jungle Book.

At this moment, 360° video for smartphones is our most relevant outlet for VR. Sure, headsets and even Google cardboard give a much more immersive experience. But not everyone will be happy to be so closely confronted and so deeply immersed as a good headset makes possible. Full VR needs the user to be willing to invest much time and energy. However, most media use is a much more casual affair. So we have to find out what the right balance is, how much willingness people will show in using VR not only to find out once, but in daily life. This is not a theoretic experience, you have to apply trial and error. It’s about doing and learning. The same goes for AR, which is in an even earlier stage of development. Microsoft’s hololens provides a good testbed, as do many smartphone apps. There are no ZDF trials on AR, yet.

On the technical side, we’re endeavouring to get all of our apps VR ready by the end of next year, in order to have our own platform for the trials described above. We don’t want to rely solely on the big players like YouTube or Facebook for distribution. As an interim step, we’re offering a separate VR app to do all the testing and iterative improvement to get to a level of stability required for integration with the bigger apps. There is also a classical website to check out our offering on a laptop or PC.

ZDF VR app is available for iOS and Android in the relevant stores.
Visit vr.zdf.de to find out more and download our apps.

Post written by Robert Amlung, Head of Digital Strategy, ZDF German Television. You can hear more from Robert at VR & AR World 2016, where he will be talking about VR and 360° Filming for Public Broadcasters, on day 2 at 2pm.

Epson: Augmenting the reality

Ahead of VR & AR World 2016, we caught up with Epson’s Valerie Riffaud-Cangelosi to discuss technology, industry challenges and providing augmented solutions for B2B customers.

epson-header-image

Thanks for taking the time to discuss VR and AR technology with us! Can you please tell our readers a little bit about your role at Epson and your experience of working in the AR field?

I am Head of New Market development at Epson Europe, looking after Moverio smart eyewear. At Epson, we have been developing and selling smart eyewear for 5 years since 2011 and our range of binocular see-through smart glasses are aimed at tackling the AR market which represents a tremendous potential.

The business space is currently offering a lot of opportunities in a wide range of market sectors such as medical, manufacturing, automotive, aeronautics, retail and arts & culture among others. The extent of the application opportunities is limitless.

Ahead of your sessions at VR & AR World, could you tell us about Epson Smart Eyewear, and how you’re using the products to meet client requirements?

Epson has been developing its own core technologies for years and our smart eyewear is based on some of those core components that Epson develops, manufactures and owns, epson-moverio-bt-300which gives us a lot of flexibility to deliver our products rapidly all over EMEA, and we  now have a full range of products coming up. We have been working for a few years now directly with end-users to clearly understand their use cases and environment constraints, and we adjust our product development accordingly to fit their use case requirements. From the software perspective we work closely with selected partners who all have proven abilities to develop breakthrough solutions for Epson smart eyewear which are all Android based.

What are the 3 most common challenges you face working in this industry?

We face one major challenge: making customers understand they can deploy projects today – AR is not a futuristic technology.

There are several ways of “Augmenting the Reality” and they do not all involve gigantic budgets and massive resources; some simple straight forward solutions can be implemented in a reasonable period of time and create valuable benefits and/or savings to the companies. All other challenges can be overcome by giving sufficient support to customers so that they can progress their projects by introducing, for example, the right ISV partner that has the ability to clearly understand their requirements.

Are there any areas Epson is keen to focus more heavily on in the future?

We have already identified markets & projects where we started to deploy products, such as any industries keen on developing remote maintenance or visual assistance applications, or museums to enhance their visitors experience; the medical sector as well has been quick to implement simple and straight forward solutions to display information while keeping its eyes on patients.

All those are examples of what we will focus on in the next year but we have a few other projects coming up in very different sectors such as pharmaceutical, retail and architecture.

This year we will even introduce a new model Moverio BT-300 that will be a key accessory to pilot drones as a unique first person view piloting system and we have just announced a global partnership with DJI.

Which 3 industries do you feel will benefit the most from augmented reality, and why?

All of them!

The beauty of smartglasses and AR is that if you discuss with any industry, in any sector, they come up with an idea of application/solution in their own domain. And if they are ready to kick off a project, with the support of our ISVs, we can come up with a solution that will benefit their business, and help them gain in terms of efficiency, costs, time saving and resources.

Finally the customers who do benefit from the solutions are the ones who did the maths first and engage with an idea of where they will end up using our solutions.

Are you currently working on any new augmented reality products (that you’re allowed to talk about!), and if so how will are they set to benefit B2B enterprises?

After 5 years, we’ve understood one important point: there are so many potential uses that you cannot pretend to cover all of them with one single device.

Those 5 years have been beneficial to Epson in helping to understand what customers want, need and can actually use; and we balanced this against what we can technically achieve while maintaining a reasonable price along with meeting those expectations.

By the beginning of next year, we will therefore have 4 models in our range, to tackle the markets we target and are ready to deploy.

moverio-bt

Do you feel that augmented reality technology has more potential in B2B industries than virtual reality?

At Epson we think that AR has a very bright future, that is why we focus on binocular see-through eyewear, with a centred image projected right in front of your eyes.

This technology opens an enormous range of mid and long term opportunities, and each generation of products & software solutions will bring new use cases and enhanced applications. We have a hundred years of innovative solutions ahead of us!

If you had to picture the future of AR in ten years’ time, what would it look like?

It will be used in all businesses through lots of different applications, and each will make sense for the professional they will serve. AR will be used to simplify tasks, enhance experiences, make every action faster, easier and more exciting.

It will be just useful and natural. And of course smart eyewear will be the best device to access this.

What are you looking forward to the most about this year’s VR & AR World?

We will for the first time show our entire new existing & upcoming range of smart glasses, and we are looking forward meeting a lot of potential customers to convince them by trying the products that they do not have to implement those solutions. Tomorrow’s reality is today!

If you’d like to find out more about Epson’s augmented reality products, please visit the Epson website. You can also hear more from Valerie at VR & AR World, where she will be discussing Epson Smart Eyewear – Tomorrow’s Reality; Today and joining the Panel Discussion: Augmented Reality in Enterprise.

How can virtual, augmented and mixed reality technologies impact the world of animated storytelling?

nexus-blog-vr

Ahead of VR & AR World 2016, we caught up with Nexus’s Chris O’Reilly to find out how VR, AR and mixed reality are playing an important role in animated storytelling…

A little bit about Chris and his role at Nexus…

I’m co-founder and ECD at Nexus.  We’re an Academy award nominated animation studio and interactive storytelling company based in London. We began the studio during another big shift in the industry when desktop computing began to hugely democratise animation and VFX in the late nineties.  We set up a studio to work with in-house directing talent and built a pipeline to serve that. We began by creating TV series, commercials and short films. About six years ago we also began to work increasingly in interactive storytelling, in apps, installations and web. We were really interested in creating a studio that bought together excellent, high-level authored stories to emerging interactive technologies. Obviously VR and AR are currently the crucibles where these two are most productively coming together.

How are you using technologies such as virtual, augmented and mixed reality to tell stories?

We’ve been working over the last 18 months with the clever people at Google’s Advanced Technologies and Projects department (ATAP) with their real-time technology for Google Spotlight Stories.  We created an animated short RAIN OR SHINE which is having its official release later this year.  It’s an animated caper with gaze base interactivity.  It’s still very much a story… Spotlight is led by Jan Pinkava, an Oscar winning director formerly from Pixar. We’re now developing a whole slate of VR entertainment.

We’re busy in AR too having recently created an AR experience called The Invisible Museum for Qualcomm at CES in Las Vegas. We’re working on some exciting upcoming AR projects.

nexus-blog-vr3

Are there any projects you’re working on that you’re particularly excited about?

We have some very interesting things in the pipeline both in VR and AR. All of them currently under-wraps! But the opportunities that are emerging are very exciting. We’ve really been thinking about what VR will become as it grows up and have developed some interesting format ideas for the medium.

How are you working with B2B companies?

Advertisers have seen the potential for VR and AR so we’ve worked B2B in that area both with agencies and sometimes directly with tech clients.

Which of these technologies are you using most in B2B – is one more popular than the others?

AR looks set to be massive for B2B as it takes people off screen and out into the real world.  Longer term mixed reality feels like it could be even more influential.

nexus-blog-vr2
Here at VR & AR World we were really blown away by the augmented reality cover you created for the New Yorker – Is this a technology that you’re seeing a lot of demand for from clients?

Absolutely.  AR is hugely advantageous to advertisers as it connects back to the real world… either to places or to objects. It’s easy to get people involved, as the technology is right there in their hands already.

The AR content you’re producing is really interesting, the examples of your work in the VR Studio section of your site are awesome – could you explain how the technology works?

Our set up centres on the introduction of game engine technologies working along side our film pipe line.  Here’s a behind the scenes on our New Yorker project.

How do you predict virtual and augmented reality being used 10 years from now?

10 years is a long way down the line in this world! So much has happened in just the last few months. I think the broad trend will see more pervasive but less intrusive use of mixed reality and virtual worlds will have developed to be more social.

How do you see Nexus developing in the future – are there any areas you’d like to focus on going forward?

The big broad theme for us is to do with real-time animation and its ability to be the face of the emerging new digital economy.  Specific platforms will come and go but emotional storytelling and meaningful design will always remain, wherever technology takes us.

What are you looking forward to the most about this year’s VR & AR World event?

Meeting a community of fellow adventurers in this exciting frontier.



VRAR-blog-banner

VR & AR World, ExCeL London, 19-20 October 2016

There’s still time to register for this year’s event online here!

Virtual Reality and 360-degree video: What impact will they have on the Professional Acquisition Market?

Ahead of this year’s VR & AR World event, Futuresource Consulting’s Adam Cox gives his view on the potential impact VR and 360 Video will have on the professional acquisition market.

vr-headset-blog

Strictly speaking, 360 video isn’t virtual reality (which tends to be computer rendered), but virtual reality and 360 video have become one and the same thing in popular parlance as they often (but not always) use the same headsets to view content.

The ability to watch 360 video on YouTube and Facebook without the need for headsets is a key differentiator between the two technologies as it immediately gives video creators popular platforms on which to publish their videos that doesn’t need additional investment from consumers. Essentially, 360 video is currently far more accessible than “true” VR.

Many of the production challenges that exist for VR are the same for 360 video, but the unique and rather obvious difference is that 360 video requires a camera, or more specifically, cameras.

The principles of 360 video are well understood – multiple cameras are required to provide 360 degree coverage, the images of which are stitched together to produce a coherent video – but there is a wide degree of variation in the way this is achieved.

Many productions are using multiple cameras mounted on a rig, which at the low end (the GoPro Odyssey and Facebook Surround 360 rigs for example) is an affordable solution, but at the high end, cinema quality images are traded off against extremely high cost and unfavourable physical characteristics – imagine the size, weight and cost of a 16 camera Arri Alexa rig for example! Another issue is that however accurately engineered the rig is, inaccuracies produced when mounting the cameras will result in greater issues when stitching the content and so many productions favour integrated cameras to minimise this.

At IBC this year there was an array of cameras claiming to be professional, but most could optimistically be described as “prosumer” at best. Still, these cameras can and are being used by professionals to experiment in the art of 360 productions and in many and varied professional applications where the 360 element adds a new dimension. One example that has been given is consumer 360 cameras being used by forensic teams to give greater context to the high quality photographs taken at crime scenes.

At the high end of the integrated 360 camera spectrum there are only a small number of models on the market. The Nokia Ozo and Jaunt One being the two main contenders, although high prices and limited availability means that sales are currently limited. Futuresource expects sales will remain low, especially as once the initial early adopters have purchased, the industry is likely to rely on a rental model due to the experimental stage at which 360 video is currently at. Unless 360 video is the bread and butter of a production company, renting makes a lot more sense than investing in a $60K camera – a trend seen across the camera markets.

Professional 360 cameras will remain niche in the short to mid-term. In Europe, the market will be around 10% the size of the European digital cinema market in 2016, but longer term they will play an increasingly important role in the acquisition market overall.

Futuresource Consulting’s Virtual Reality: Niche or Mass Market? report forms part of its Virtually Reality Tracking Service – a quarterly service offering regular market evaluation and industry assessment reports. Futuresource will be discussing this at VR & AR World conference in October. If you’d like more information about Futuresource Consulting reports in the VR and AR digital entertainment space please do get in touch here.

About the author: Adam Cox

Adam joined Futuresource Consulting in a research and consulting capacity in 2006, and currently heads up Futuresource’s Broadcast Equipment Team. Adam has expertise covering the full broadcast production chain from acquisition to content delivery, following both market and technology trends, and is heavily involved in work looking at end users such as broadcasters, service providers and videographers as well as the corporate and education markets and in addition to work examining the broadcast equipment sales channel.


VRAR-blog-banner

VR & AR World, ExCeL London, 19-20 October 2016

If you’d like to meet other VR and AR professionals and find out more about how both virtual and augmented reality are being used across a wide range of industries, and how companies plan to use them in the future, visit the VR & AR World event website.

Virtual Reality in Education: The Sheffield University Approach to Technology

sheffield-university-virtual-tour

The Media Team at Sheffield University has recently installed its first ever fully interactive, fully immersive & virtual Sheffield School of Architecture Student Exhibiton.

Available to all for free and accessible on any device anywhere in the world, the exhibition has been several months in the making. Starting with the acquisition of new equipment and technology this concept from verbal pitch to a fully polished, professional product.

The virtual exhibition is a complete, self-contained digital environment based on the concept of the virtual tour, which won’t be new to many (examples include Google street view, museums etc…).  As closely as possible the aim was to re-create the experience of visiting the student exhibition, giving virtual visitors the same sensory cues of sounds, visuals and detailed content that a physical visitor would enjoy. At a basic level the virtual exhibition is made of of many 360 degree photographs, videos, images and documents that make up both the physical space and the students’ exhibition content. This data is then combined into an HTML5 web interface, giving the viewer a resource-light, responsive experience compatible with any device, and on virtually any internet connection (5mbps minimum recommended speed).

The Virtual Exhibiton

sheffield-vr-user

What makes this virtual tour different is  the quality of the photography, its uncompromising approach to immersion and most importantly its ability to preserve context.  Each scene within the virtual exhibition has been captured using a panoramic gigapixel robotic mount from Swiss Photographic company Seitz. This rig precisely captures many full-sized photographs for later composition into a single 360×180 degree spherical photograph. The lowest quality scenes are made up of 150 RAW photographs shot at 16 megapixels each, producing a scene of 253 megapixels in size. The highest quality scenes are made up of 935 images and produce an image just over 1 gigapixel in size. These are images over 50,000 pixels across. All scenes are also shot in a +2 bracket for higher dynamic range.  This quality is more than an experiment in possibilities. From the first pitch of this project, Architects and academics alike cast doubt on the ability of digital representations to reveal detail possible to see with the naked eye, and as such any digital version of the exhibition would be a poor neighbour. With these interior gigapixel images, it is possible to resolve incredible detail on zooming in to displays, models and even while looking out of the window at the view! This ability gives the virtual visitor real opportunity to say ‘I’ve been there’ and assess a student’s work equally to those who could visit in person.

vr-tour-sheffield-uni-blog

The image above shows an actual 100% crop of one of these scenes for context.
Immersion is important. Atmosphere can change mood, and give important context to a display or a exhibition space. What a space sounds like, what it looks like can change minds. That’s why the virtual exhibition focuses equally on the space and the content of the exhibition. The virtual visitor sees the entire space, 360 degrees, worts and all. They hear recorded sound from the opening night and they can access video and image content related to each display, enhancing the physical, preserving it for the future. That is the final key advantage of this approach to documenting the physical. Preservation without cost. The Universtiy faces a a yearly battle to efficiently use its spaces. The pressure to remove old student work is overwhelming, but understanding the hour and hours of hard work that goes into each model, each drawing, to see this work lost can be difficult. The virtual exhibition is a marketing tool, an exhibition tool and an archival tool. Everything you see in the virtual exhibition is self-contained and can be preserved indefinitely.  If this project is repeated for subsequent exhibitions, an archive of past work could be built up, further enriching our student’s craving for newness and difference as they will be fully aware of what has gone before.

Of course as the virtual exhibition becomes more embedded within the school’s yearly cycle, the more it is expected that students come up with new and innovative ideas as to how their work can be best presented and communicated using this unique platform. It is the university’s hope that this will become a truly collaborative process that develops in scale and value with each year, because, just like the exhibition itself, students at Sheffield lead the way.

This article was contributed by the Media Unit Manager for the Sheffield School of Architecture. If you’d like to find out more you can contact the Media Unit here.


VRAR-blog-banner

VR & AR World, 19-20 October 2016, ExCeL London

Taking place this October,  VR & AR World gives you the opportunity to learn more about the latest in virtual and augmented reality technologies and how they can help you to grow your business. The event will see over 100 expert speakers across two days, exhibitors from leading VR and AR companies, and offers the chance to network with hundreds of VR and AR professionals. You can find out more about the event, and book your tickets on the official VR & AR World website.