Immersive Tech Briefing: BBC shooting 'VR Grand Designs'
I’m generally of the opinion that putting up an IKEA bookshelf counts as master-level DIY, which is why I much prefer to watch heavy lifting from the comfort of my sofa.
For any fans of Channel 4 show Grand Designs and its ilk, rejoice – the next generation is here. The BBC is launching a new home design show called Watch This Space, but the show has a twist – couples see their new home in VR before they so much as lift a finger. Or a nail.
The show will see Robot Wars presenter Angela Scanlon guide two couples who have very different ideas of how they want their house to look through the design process. First, two designers will mock up the ideas in VR and the contestants will get to take a look inside their dream house.
Then they fight it out to the death to decide which they like better and get to building.
It’s one of the first times VR has been included in an unscripted show, but it’s not the broadcaster’s first foray into VR. The Beeb is also giving football fans the chance to get a closer look at the World Cup action via VR and has also made a deal for Untold Story – which lets directors spin up the passion projects they never got to make in VR.
The eight-part series is currently in production for airing on BBC Two so – quite literally – watch this space.
All systems Go on Harry Potter
In many ways, the creators of Pokémon Go have shot themselves in the foot. I mean, how do you top a game that was the fastest app to hit $1 billion in revenue in App Store history and two years later is still one of the most played games in the world?
You release a Harry Potter AR game.
That’s right, Niantic – the team behind the game that had players everywhere roaming the streets with their phones out – has partnered with Warner Bros. to bring the world Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.
It’s all very hush hush at the moment and all that’s really known is ‘Players will learn spells, explore their real world neighbourhoods and cities to discover & fight legendary beasts and team up with others to take down powerful enemies’, along with ‘mysterious artefacts’ to hunt down.
That’s not all that’s coming from the company, as it announces plans to offer its AR tools to third-party developers later this year.
It’s upped its Go offering, creating tech that recognises real-world objects so Pokémon can interact with them – hiding behind a car for instance – and has released a multi-player game called Neon.
Players’ phones are aware of each other’s locations, as they try to catch white orbs while firing coloured balls of light at each other.
It’s also acquired Matrix Mill, a company which develops tech that improves 3D awareness of the surrounding world so its AR experiences feel more rooted in reality.
Sadly there’s no release date on Potter and his friends but users can expecto (patronum) it later this year.
The future of office renting
Last week I was lucky enough to take a peek behind the veil of the next generation of proptech with an AR experience at Bruntwood’s latest project.
I took a stroll to Manchester’s iconic St James’ Building in the city centre to view an empty space that the property company was showing.
At first it looked a little on the bare side, but after whipping out their tablets and scanning codes on the floor around the space, it turned out it was actually full – virtually at least.
The company has teamed up with creative agency Holdens to explore new ways to lease properties. The AR experience let prospective tenants see what the space would look like with desks, computers, foliage and even steaming cups of tea.
I chatted to one of the Holdens team and he told me that viewers could describe what they would like to see and it could be spun up in a matter of weeks, letting them get a feel for the space exactly as they want it.
Manchester VR firm eyes float
A Manchester tech start-up which specialises in providing immersive 'out-of-home' VR experiences could soon float on the London Stock Exchange.
Immotion wants to speed up the roll-out of its VR cinema pods across entertainment centres, theme parks and museums after raising an additional £500,000 in funding.
Immotion did not reveal its anticipated market capitalisation or how much capital it plans to raise. However, the firm has set 12 July as its anticipated date of admission.
The company claims to help its clients transport their customers to virtual new worlds, uncovering ancient history and deep-sea creatures, entertain with thrilling roller coaster rides and let them run with dinosaurs or chase zombies.
This all sounds pretty cool, and I love the idea that they could soon be as common – and hopefully less frustrating – as those grabby machines in my local cinema.
Weather channel creates perfect MR storm
In one of the most engaging weather reports you’re likely to see in a while, the Weather Channel brought the reality of a tornado much, much closer to home for viewers last week.
As part of a report about tornado categorisation, meteorologist Jim Cantore explained the different stages of the phenomenon in a broadcast with a twist.
Throughout the show, Cantore explains the different stages of tornadoes – and safety tips for each stage – as debris, powerlines and even a car appear to crash into the studio.
The demonstration used mixed reality (MR), which is similar to augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) in that it creates virtual objects and then overlays them into the real world, but goes a step further and allows users to interact with them.
Watch the video here!
Our friends at Holdens have been busy – not content with smashing VR for property, they’ve also been working on another tasty project for Pizza Express.
Never get bored waiting for a meal at the restaurant chain again as you can now play a quick game of football at your table.
The restaurant’s smartphone app pairs with diners’ smartphone cameras to show tiny players kicking footballs around your dough balls, even using some of the items from the menu as part of the game’s experience.
The senior marketing manager of PizzaExpress, Timothy Love, said it was part of the chain’s goal to constantly improve the customer experience.
“For some, technology at the table has become a mealtime feature, so instead of families spending time hunched over their phones, with Doughball everyone can get involved in a 60-second ‘flick-about’ before the main event – eating pizza – kicks off,” he said.