March has been and gone already, which means it’s time for the regular studio quarterly review, looking back at the first three months of 2021. As we enter Year 2 of our new operations post-lockdown #1, we’re gearing up for a few minor changes and easing up of restrictions (hopefully) over the coming months. Following on from our 2020 End of Year Review, which saw a record number of deliverables, despite everything, 2021 continues to keep everyone in the Make Real studio busy, no matter where they are located.
Whilst we continue to operate the studio remotely with the majority of the team working from home, we have been continuing to widen our recruitment net with two new remote team members joining us. First up we welcomed Zoe to the Production team, joining us with an immersive deliveries background, to bolster our development steering processes and planning. Shortly after, Tim brought some additional, experienced immersive learning design chops from the South West, working alongside Sophie, Geoff, Matt, Will and Ryan. They quickly settled in and got their heads stuck into the various immersive experiences we have deployed to-date and currently in development.
Our biggest news was around our partnership with Keltbray and the creation of the JV MRKL LLP, as we continue to strengthen our relationship and build up a suite of immersive learning products and tools for the construction industry and beyond. Starting off we have the irrefutable video evidence creation tool for VR training applications, Skill Shield : Total Review, which works alongside Slinger Signaller, Traffic Marshall and Rear Guard. These applications are also now compatible with the immerse.io Virtual Platform for enhanced metics and holographic playback options, as part of a new partnership we announced, adding them to the growing library of content offered.
As a result, we felt it was time to give the website a bit of a refresh and broke out our growing ‘Products’ section into it’s own space to breathe more effectively, broken down into ‘Learning‘, ‘Tools‘ and our ‘Games‘ (not forgetting the Serious Fun(TM)!). It was also a good time to update our inclusion on the gov.uk Digital Marketplace, being part of Cyber Essentials and the proper logo for Oculus for Business ISV Partners. We also wanted to break out the information about the studio and team, to enable a better understanding of who we are, what we believe in and why future candidates should want to work with us.
We wrapped up our participation on the Creative England / Ukie ‘Games Scale Up‘ and Plus X / University of Brighton ‘BRITE Innovation‘ programmes, having been undertaking a number of sessions over the past six months looking at growing the business and preparing the studio for innovative product development beyond our wfh agency projects. We learned a lot from both programmes and have been putting the knowledge to good use as we finalise our strategies for updated and new IP to be released this year (more news coming soon!)
News outside of the studio didn’t slow down either, with another three monthly ‘Reality Check‘ newsletters going out to subscribers crammed full of the latest news around immersive technologies. You can read the Jan, Feb and March editions but be sure to sign-up and subscribe to get the news fresh into your inbox at the start of each month.
All real-world physical events are still on-hold, having been postponed or adapted to virtual online events, we are starting to see talk of options for later in the year to plan around. Typically this quarter would have seen the new event year seasons kicking off with Learning Technologies at London ExCeL Centre and many more. Here’s hoping we can get back to proper face-to-face events in 2022, albeit likely still with a blended mix of virtual elements in there too.
We took part in a few online events however, in and around ongoing development of various projects. Sophie joined the panel at JISC #DigiFest, looking at the future of immersive labs and fostering collaborative environments within education and training. Sam spoke with students from Goldsmith and Swansea universities about enterprise xR uses and design & deployment aspects of delivery.
A number of our client projects came to fruition this quarter, with deployments across the scale of immersive technologies, from browser to mobile to VR headsets.
Make Real – D&I: Perspectives VR : The dev team have been wrapping up work on creating a WebXR version of the experience for customers without [Oculus Quest] VR headsets available to use. As an emerging standard of browser technology, we’re still polishing off a few final compatibility issues and tweaks to make it shine across PC and Mac desktop browsers and Android and iOS mobile browsers. More news around availability should be coming in April… along with the Oculus Quest App Lab submission review and release for those of you with access to consumer devices (note it is already available for Oculus for Business customers, get in touch regarding trials and pricing.)
Lloyds Banking Group – Data City : Immersive and interactive browser-based experience blending animation and video to provide compelling learning content
Lloyds Banking Group – Groupwide Induction : Immersive and interactive browser-based experience blending animation and video to provide compelling learning content
Lloyds Banking Group – Hear to Listen : Immersive and interactive browser-based experience blending animation and video to provide compelling learning content
Lloyds Banking Group – Introducing the Cloud : Immersive and interactive browser-based experience blending animation and video to provide compelling learning content
Porsche – Origins : Following on from the VR experience we created in 2019, we followed up with a browser-based WebXR version that could then be made accessible to a wider audience of employees during lockdown limitations upon workplace presence.
Roto VR – Ident : Following on from the web portal and associated SDK work we carried out in 2020, we finalised and delivered the animated ident sting for Roto VR apps
University of Sussex – Crowds and Identities: Stampedes : VR-based crowd behaviour simulation as part of a wider research piece into individual behaviour and collective fear responses, in times of unexpected events and perceived threats, using HTC Vive Pro Eye
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That pretty much wraps up the review of Q1 for 2021; the studio team have been busy with a number of deliverables and deadlines and with a lack of physical events, the external teams have been busy virtually connecting with our clients and partners, lining up new and extensions to projects in, or soon-to-be in the works. We’re very nearly ready to announce our next in-home entertainment release coming later on in 2021, but you’ll have to keep an eye on our social feeds to find out more!
With April upon us, and so far the lockdown easing plans appear to be on-track, so we will start being able to welcome clients and partners to our new studio space at Plus X Innovation Hub, Brighton more frequently, for demos, reviews and workshops. Please do get in touch if you would like to have a demo or workshop around integrating immersive technologies into your organisation, we are able to host small numbers initially.
The majority of the studio team will remain working remotely for the foreseeable future but we have put provisions in place, now we are able to, for those who wish to work from the studio or have more flexible options to do so. One of the advantages of our new space is flexibility with meeting rooms, creative spaces, co-working desks and even a sunny rooftop terrace (and soon fully serviced bar!)
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.