Virtual Reality

No other medium fuses craft and technology more than Virtual Reality and nothing else comes close to its ripping experiences; taking viewers to unseen places and shifting miracles into perspective. Being pulled away from reality and experiencing real immersive-VR is what truly excites us.

Lab x Deloitte Digital x Entopic | VR Hackaton

Customers do not know what they want, until you show it” is a famous quote by Steve Jobs that fits well with hackathons and bootcamp as a tool to get new concepts out of the Power Point mode and into concrete ideas. It is also the best way to test interaction possibilities.

Ambassadors Lab organised in collaboration with Deloitte Digital and Entopic a hackathon to test if you can make a VR prototype in one day. Five small multidisciplinary teams from strategists, creatives and engineers kicked off the day. The concepts will be tested with three questions:

Can we make a concept and working VR prototype in one day?

What can we learn about usability and interaction?

What can we learn about techniques?

WebVR: Virtual Reality in a web browser with carton glasses.

The first goal of the hackathon is establishing how to make a working VR prototype with WebVR in one day. This is an experimental Javascript API that creates a Virtual Reality experience in a browser through a smartphone and carton VR glasses. Very approachable hardware to say the least.

WebVR does not work on all browsers, but the latest version of Chrome and Firefox are no problem. An additional surplus is that the content can be used on Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and

Samsung Gear VR. In this hackathon A-Frame WebVR is used.

In two hours a ‘Hello Cardboard’ moment

The teams are assigned to create an interesting e-commerce concept and prototype with WebVR. This can be interesting for the user and organisation. It is important to create a ‘Hello World’ moment early on, which is the moment the concept comes to life in code for the first time.

The teams are advised to spend one hour on the concept and in the next hour focussing on creating that ‘Hello World’ moment, or in this case the ‘Hello Cardboard’ moment. (Cardboard is the name of the carton VR glasses of Google)

By creating this moment early on during the day the work inside the teams will be divided more efficiently. The strategist works on the persona, journey, mini-business case and pitch presentation, the designer looks at interaction, design and presentation while the engineer brings the prototype to life in code.

Use VR as part of an e-commerce client journey

Successful VR implementations in e-commerce can not be offered solely as application, but should be part of a journey. VR applications can have a strong added value to the utilisation and research process of consumers where rich experiences have an added surplus but not necessary have to 

lead to a purchase. Think about the inspiration and exploration phases in the client journey. Such applications should form a perfect connection with the other phases of the journey, like selecting and buying. After all, we are asking to put a device on your face and that asks for some patience and some getting used to for the consumer. The experience should have a lot of added value to surpass this obstacle. One of the teams came up with the idea to make VR a part of the responsive design. The content and the way it is consumed is than optimally attuned to the possibilities of the device.

Combine storytelling, a rich experience and a targeted navigation

VR has a lot of potential, also for applications outside the gaming and entertainment industry. Surely, still a lot can be learned from this industry in terms of creating a rich consumer experience. The combination of storytelling, a rich consumer experience and targeted e-commerce navigation, offers VR service providers a new diverse tool in their arsenal.

The created concepts and prototypes:

Concept 1: Find and Experience Toys

The ‘Find and Experience Toys’ VR concept brings the physical experience of the toy store back to the online world. The user will be able to move from the traditional web shop to the virtual shop. Toys will be displayed on round shelves 

surrounding the user and can be picked up to take a closer look. The shelves are interactive and can be pushed around. There will be one empty shelve to place your favourites on and when you change your mind just drop the item to remove it from your favourites.

By offering products in VR a big shortcoming of web stores is solved, namely the scales of the products. The risk of disappointment when the size is different than imagined, is lower because the buyer already held the item in the VR shop.

Concept 2: DECOVR – Place the furniture in a virtual room

DECOVR is a VR concept that helps costumers with the buying process of furniture while making it a full experience. To start off you have to make a 360 view of your own room or house and then you can change the furniture with new items to see how a new look would work.

It also offers the possibility to share your old home with professionals who can advise you personally and you can share your new home styling on social media as an inspiration for others. And what about placing the 360 view of your old furniture online so others can immediately buy your furniture?

Concept 3: PEAK – The virtual house viewing

PEAK is a VR API that offers brokers a possibility to organise a house viewing in Virtual Reality. By creating an option in VR the buyer is not compromised by the broker’s availability or their travelling distance and it can show different weather option to create an all around view.

PEAK will be added on existing broker platforms with an extra ‘VR viewing’ option. By wearing the VR glasses the buyer can wander around their possible dream house. You can easily walk around by watching a door for three seconds or sit down by watching the couch for three seconds.

Concept 4: EAT AT – Eating alone together

EAT AT is a VR concept that allows you to dine with friends or family in a chosen place without actually travelling the distance. The service offers the ability to invite other users and the choice of several restaurants, cities or locations by local suppliers. The dinner will start when the menu is delivered and will project you to the chosen location by VR.

The concept is now based on eating together but the possibilities can be much bigger, for example looking at a travel destination together or a trip to the museum.

Concept 5: VR for Hospitality

The VR for Hospitality concept offers tourists and business travellers a realistic view of their possible destination and accommodation. The traveller is projected to the desired destination by the VR glasses and can stroll around in the neighbourhood and accommodation in a 360 view before booking the trip.

Conclusion

Looking back at the three questions we started off with, it is definitely possible to create a VR experience in one day. All teams came with thought out plans and working prototypes.

Usability and interaction are a main focus, but it will take some time before the user is accustomed to the use of this new interaction. But the benefits are so obvious it will not be very long before we see an e-commerce solution in a web environment.

The techniques are still very much in the development phase, the frameworks are not yet stable and the WebVR API is still very experimental, but it is apparent that VR will play a significant roll in the customer journey.

KPN Zakelijke Markt | Rondleiding

It’s always a pleasure to work with N=5, even more so when it touches almost all of our creative productions studios; Edit, Visual Effects | 3D ,  Sound Design, Virtual Reality, VR Production and Grading.
For this project we worked on both the commercial, which tells the story to the end user, as well we created a VR film that will be used by Account Managers to give their customers a virtual reality experience that gives the customer the same experience as the two actors in the commercial. The 360 VR film is used as a pre-visualisation tool and is an ice-breaker of sorts towards prospects. 
Will Jeffers - Head of 3D - on the CG of these 2 commercials:
"The creatives of N=5 came up with the idea to create a world of 3D paper maquette objects, similar to the design tools an architect uses, we then incorporated that feel / direction into the CG part of the office and warehouse elements."
 "When it came to the VR commercial, we naturally went further in this direction. We created a high graphical architect maquette in grey tones and abstract forms which give a
simple look but works perfectly as the user is standing in the same landscape as the commercial and sees the possibilities of the building.
Storytelling
"In general VR is approaching storytelling in a new way, the camera is no longer in a fixed angle and the action is happening in a 360 space, this requires queues that lead the viewer in terms of where they are focusing."
"Creating the best user experience possible is just part of the challenge with VR, we are also focused on improving render time and optimising the resolution of the output to enhance the overall experience."
"Every VR project we do is exciting and gives us new insights into how to perfect our workflows."

De Staat | Get on screen

Virtual Reality video clip where each band member has his own music video

So how did the collaboration get started? Executive Producer Melvin Kant: ‘WE ARE WILL was approached by De Staat to create a series of videos based on the songs of album 'O'. Torre had the idea to record ‘Get On Screen’ with a 360 ° camera, hoping it could turn in to a VR video. Immediately I thought of Diederik from Ambassadors, whom I met during last year’s ‘VR Breakfast’-session at the international advertising festival

Cannes Lions.‘

However the execution was not as simple as the idea. Diederik Veelo, Head of Innovation:  'The question was whether we could produce this within 20 days.  And, how to keep the frame steady, because at one point, the camera goes 3 meters up and the viewer gets the feeling that he is hanging above the band.’

Kant: ‘The exciting element is the central perspective of the

viewer, who is surrounded by all band members. Depending on the viewing direction of the person with VR goggles, each band member has the lead in this music video.’

Veelo adds: 'Filming for virtual reality for everyone is still new,  because we have our own camera and made a Virtual Reality Experience for Terre des Hommes on child slavery last year, we were able to create a  quick workflow .’

360 ° sound

Sound was crucial to the user experience. The surround view and sound design had to be connected in a “relevant” way allowing the viewer to really feel at the center of the music video.

Joep Meijburg, Sound Designer explains: ‘We use Ambisonic Sound, also known as 360 ° sound. We have added small nuances: if you look at the direction of the drummer, the sound

of the drums are a bit louder and when you turn around towards the bass player, you will hear the bass a bit louder. The clip moves along with you in a way that is not only visual but also in terms of sound allowing you to experience it in a more intense way.’

Interview De Staat x 3FM 

Terre des Hommes | Amani

Created with a tailor-made 3D-printed camera rig, 14 cameras and a hands-on team, the ambitious campaign from the international human rights charity invites the viewer to experience a day in the life of Amani – a young Kenyan girl whose daily struggles include child labour, physical violence and sexual abuse.

The striking campaign is the charity’s first high-profile activity since producing multi award-winning, Cannes Grand Prix winner Sweetie. It aims to shed light on everyday child abuse which is often invisible to the outside world. In order to make the hidden visible and communicate a powerful message in an engaging way, Ambassadors Lab had to push the boundaries of existing techniques.

On the 5th of may 2015 we unveiled a state-of-the-art VR experience for Terre Des Hommes. With an Oculus Rift and a pair of headphones, the powerful story of a 12-year old Kenyan girl is brought to life in chilling 3D VR.

By offering the audience a 3D experience in a 360-degree environment, the campaign redefines cinematic storytelling for a new medium where the user takes a passive role at the heart

of the action.

Every element, from the camera rig to the software, had to be prototyped and tailored, utilising cutting-edge technology and innovation.

Diederik Veelo, Founder, The Ambassadors LAB, says: “We designed, prototyped and printed a camera rig that holds 14 individual cameras that not only record 360-degrees around you, but also captures the entire scene in 3D.

In order to record sound in 3D as well, we fitted the camera

with 5 additional microphones. The sound was then mixed in surround sound to immerse the viewer into an even richer environment.

Combining these tools with a cinematic approach, you create an emotional experience new to any audience.”

The virtual experience, launched at a Dutch Liberation day Festival in The Hague, can also be downloaded as an app for people to view on their mobile devices. The four-minute film will also be available online, to view in both 2D and 3D.

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Lab x Deloitte Digital x Entopic | VR Hackaton

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