As we race towards the final quarter of 2020, it’s time to take a look back at what the Make Real studio and team has been up to these past three months.
Studio life continues online, with most of the team working remotely from home but thanks to the easing of lockdown restrictions in July, we decided to re-open our physical space, to allow those who wished, preferred or wanted to work from there were able to do so. Whilst it meant lots of special considerations to be put in place and arranging extra cleaning each day, we felt it was important for the mental health of the team, some of whom were feeling additional stress working from home every day, for whatever personal reasons.
Summer is typically quieter for the studio, with team members and clients alike taking annual leave for holidays and well-deserved breaks. Whilst no-one was jetting off abroad to sunnier climes, we were fortunate with a spell of good weather locally and throughout the UK, which helped with the staycation plans.
Whilst we continue to operate the studio remotely with most of the team working from home, we have been busy widening our recruitment net as a result and are happy to welcome Kevin and David to the team, joining us as Senior Developers for the production and Drawing Board teams respectively. It’s great to have more people joining the team at a time when workloads and opportunities continue apace. However, despite writing a blog post about his first year with Make Real, we did have to say goodbye to Alan from the design team, who shortly after that milestone, felt his calling as a teacher was too strong to ignore. That does mean we have a new designer joining us very soon, but details of whom will have to wait until the next review…
In more excellent news, we found out we had been shortlisted and nominated for a number of awards at the AIXR VRAwards 2020 (Best Medical VR Application – NHS Blood Identification VR and Best VR Training Application – Lloyds Relationship Management) and the Learning Technology Awards 2020 (Best Blended Learning Solution & Best Onboarding Solution – CITB & BAM Nuttall Highways Induction and Best Mobile Learning Solution – Vodafone DriVe Safe, as well as our very own Sophie, Head of Learning Design, being up for Best Learning Designer of the Year)! So November will be a month of crossing everything to see which ones we have won…
In relation to our ethos around educating clients and partners about immersive learning experiences and technologies, we published three more of our monthly newsletters “Reality Check“, for July, August and September, full of interesting articles related to and around the worlds of learning design, technologies and other discussion points we have found each month. Maybe you are reading this linked from the October newsletter. If not, be sure to sign up here to receive our carefully curated content in your email inbox each month.
As part of our continued growth plans following on from the investment into the studio in 2018, we are starting to look for a new physical space to relocate to. We always knew the lease on our current space would come to a non-renewable end late 2020 but we obviously didn’t foresee COVID-19, the team switching to remote and the needs and requirements of a studio space changing dramatically. Whilst we still plan on having a physical location for client meetings and immersive technology demonstrations and space for those who wish to be able to get away from the home office setup, we’re still evaluating our options of where to move to. As they say, watch this space *sic.
Finally, sneaking in right at the end of September, after months of hard work by the business development team, the cooling off period passed for our acceptance of being listed on the Gov.uk G-Cloud 12 Digital Marketplace services provider directory, enabling us to continue our work at greater scale within the public sector.
All real-world physical events are still on-hold, postponed or rescheduled to 2021 but the summer months are typically fairly quiet anyways, what with people having holidays and whatnot. However we have still been fairly active with a couple of online events, representing Make Real, the wider sectors, with and without our clients and partners.
First up, we joined the AIXR Insights Live panel, looking at ‘The Future of XR – Will The Arrival of 5G Unlock the Potential of the Workplace‘ webinar, where we talked about the increasing use cases around faster mobile devices with lower latency and how these can transform our working lives.
We then joined our clients Lloyds Banking Group for the Digital Catapult ‘Immersive Training Masterclass – Training the Next Workforce : Exploring Immersive Technology for Training‘, talking about the soft-skills interpersonal VR training applications we have been developing for them. We were then back with Digital Catapult as part of 5G World series of events, talking about ‘Exploring the Impact of 5G on the Creative Sector‘ panel, featuring the immersive theatre, branching narrative, shared-space multi-user experience we made last year, Time Machine.
Sticking with the 5G theme, we did a pre-recorded talk for the Brighton Immersive Meetup, ‘Exploring the Power of 5G‘, once again talking about Time Machine. Keeping it local, we also provided another pre-recorded talk followed by a live Q&A session for the Silicon Beach Online ‘VR for Training‘ event, joined by other local chums Emteq and Future Visual. Related to streaming and increased possibilities with greater bandwidths available, in correlation with lockdown and the virtualisation of events, we went onto the panel for PAX/EGX to talk about ‘Powered by VR and Streaming – The Future of Gaming Events‘.
Back to where we started this quarter, we ended the series of events with hosting an AIXR Insight Live panel, talking about ‘How to Effectively Scale Practical XR Training‘, looking at barriers and solutions to deploying immersive learning experiences and hardware across enterprise organisations.
Finally, whilst we were not directly involved or physically present this year, the (previously known as Oculus) Facebook Connect virtual event saw our logo appear on centre stage during the keynote, as part of the focus on their 3rd-party Oculus for Business ISV Partners spotlight, which also sees us featured on the newly launched directory of companies. The main event was around the reveal and announcement of the Oculus Quest 2 device – we’ve had devices for some months now and if you want to know more, get in touch! Many of our clients are up and running as direct customers of the Oculus for Business enterprise hardware procurement and management solution; we’ve been busy helping them get their units setup for deployment of our apps and training sessions.
A number of our client projects came to fruition this quarter, however many final deployments have been placed on hold until post-COVID-19 training regimes have been solidified and/or resumed within organisations, something we are working with our clients and partners on as well to enable. (Don’t forget to read our guide to headset hygiene when considering how to resume your training sessions.) That hasn’t stopped the team delivering on planned milestones or wrapping up a number of other projects though.
Make Real – D&I: Perspectives VR : Our new internal IP immersive learning experience product based upon workplace micro-aggressions, places the learner in a familiar workplace, as they navigate from the start of the day to an important meeting. Whilst moving through the office they meet some of their colleagues, who react to them in different ways. Once you get to the meeting, you have a chance to watch four unique 360º animations based upon real-world stories of how people have been treated, and how it made them feel. Get in touch if you would like to trial the experience in your organisation as part of a wider diversity & inclusion discussion piece.
Honda – Power-down EV VR Training : A proof-of-concept immersive learning experience around procedures and importance of powering down electric vehicles correctly before carrying out maintenance and servicing tasks.
Lloyds Banking Group – Introduction to Empathy : A desktop-based, branching narrative, immersive video experience utilising HTML5 for a creative, engaging approach to training staff about empathic responses to customers and their situations.
Vodafone – DriVe Safe : App store live launch of the updated v2 of the mobile learning-based serious game on Android and iOS platforms, teaching maintenance driver crews the importance of driving safely and awareness of hazards, as part of the “Work Safe, Home Safe” campaign, ready for global rollout.
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That pretty much wraps up Q3 of 2020 as we move forwards into the final stretch of the year. We hope that as important clients and partners of ours you have been satisfied with our continued development and approach to your projects; we’ve been working hard to minimise impact and knock-on effects to deliveries and timelines. We have a number of new projects signed and commencing development, which we are excited about and can’t wait to share details in the next quarterly review.
We wish all our clients, partners and you who are reading this a continued safe and healthy next quarter and hope to be able to emerge from this period of lockdown with gusto soon.
We’re always happy to talk to you about how immersive technologies can engage your employees and customers. If you have a learning objective in mind, or simply want to know more about VR, send us a message and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.