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Sony Hires ArtOn Lab

ArtOn Lab has been hired to develop a great VR project for Sony. Under supervision of clinical psychologists from Liverpool Hospital in Sydney we are building a Virtual Reality pain relief solution. You are probably thinking that the idea is to try distracting patients from pain by showing them some fancy VR? No, the project is actually much deeper than this. What we are building is an interactive VR visualization of an actual treatment that our clinical psychologist consultant performs in her daily life. The treatment does work and has been proved effective for cancer patients experiencing chronic pain. The pain would not completely go away as the result of the treatment, but the treatment helps reducing the level of chronic pain and helps patients to manage it better. 

What so far has only existed in an imaginary world jointly created by the clinical psychologist and a patient is being transformed into an interactive Virtual Reality game, where the main character is… you guessed it, the main character is the pain.  We are not quite finished yet and can only show a very rough draft. The above video was recorded on a very slow computer with the aim of reporting on our progress to Sony, so please excuse us that it is not looking super smooth. We promise that the next video will be much better looking, so watch this space. 

After doctors conduct their initial patient trials, our game should hopefully soon become available in a hospital near you. The trials are expected to finish in 2020.

Holoportation Technology

ArtOn Lab is working on the Holoportation technology. Holoportation makes it possible to animate any 3D scanned avatar of a real-world human in real time.

Here is a 360-video featuring a guided tour of Ancient Mesopotamia 5000 B.C. The tour guide in this video, as you might have already guessed, is created with this technique. There are still no facial expressions or finger movements in this video, but we are working on it, so watch this space. We will not disappoint you!

If you have a spare couple of minutes for a quick history lesson, just grab a VR headset or simply watch the video on your desktop computer. We hope you like our short tour. By the way, Ancient Mesopotamia 5000 B.C. is a historical simulation that we built together with academics from Western Sydney University. 

Top Secret

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Shhh… Top secret! Some members of our Sydney crew might have been hired by Wargaming on a temporary basis to build some ground-breaking technology for the World of Tanks. Of course, it may just be a rumour. You never know with these gaming companies, they are so secretive. You’ll have to wait and see whether it’s actually true and what kind of cool technology this might be.

La Draga Reconstruction

Another cool project that we have just completed is again a historical reconstruction. This time we have built the entire simulation of an early Neolithic village called La Draga. The project has been funded by one of the major Spanish banks, La Caixa

This time we worked very close with archaeologists who excavated the Draga site. It was an interesting, fun and passionate process. The first stage of the project was reconstructing the virtual environment. After completed this stage archeologists took a break, published a couple of articles about La Draga with illustrations from our simulation and then arranged a few museum exhibitions throughout Spain, the major of which was at the Archaeological Museum of Catalonia.

Next stage was populating the simulated environments with avatars. This step took a pretty long time, as archeologists had the aim of building one of the most accurate historical reconstructions ever created. They spent months assembling and sorting excavated artefacts, creating personas around those and then drawing detailed pictures of each of the avatars together with concept artists. By that time the funding has ran out, so avatars had to be created by some talented design students from the University of Barcelona. After months and months of discussions and revisions all 35 avatars were finally created. 

Our final touch at ArtOn Lab was to polish the avatars a little bit, animate them and place them in the environment. You can see the end result in the above video. Hopefully soon Virtual La Draga will be available in a historical or archaeological museum near you.

Virtual Hazard Perception

We’ve delivered another great project for Western Sydney university. This time it is a proof of concept research prototype intended for interactively teaching hazard perception to young drivers. 

Imagine how much more effective your driver training would have been if you could live through all the dangerous things that could happen to you on the road? Would you be more careful with checking your mirrors if every time you start driving there was a cyclist passing next to you? How would you feel about someone leaving the kerb without indicating? What about cars that keep following you in your blind spots? All of this, of course, can be easily simulated in Virtual Reality. 

In our proof of concept prototype, we’ve created a virtual car with fully operational mirrors, reconstructed the streets around Western Sydney University’s Parramatta South campus and put some simplistic looking driving companions on the road. Check out the above video showing our prototype at the Cebit exhibition. People quite enjoyed it, but some did get motion sickness. Maybe a vibrating and moving chair could help? Something for us to consider in the future.

Best Demo Video Award

Breaking news! A video featuring our historical reconstruction of Ancient Mesopotamia 5000 B.C. won the Best Demo Video Gala Award at the International Conference of Intelligent Virtual Agents in Los Angeles. Congratulations to our academic colleagues from Western Sydney University, who recorded the video and submitted it to the conference. 

Ancient Mesopotamia 5000 B.C. is a historical simulation that we built together with Western Sydney University academics. The simulation is historically accurate to a large extent, but not really 100% accurate. In a way, it is even provocative in its inaccuracy, because, apparently, even the Stanford professor who consulted us doesn’t have all the answers, so it was decided to build a simulation, get it out there and wait for collective wisdom to come back with criticism that can be taken on board in future versions. Additionally, the key goal of this simulation for our clients at Western Sydney University was to demonstrate their ground-breaking Artificial Intelligence technology that makes it possible for a large crowd of different looking avatars to live their complex virtual lives in a simulation. The avatars have physiological needs and desires and satisfy those by eating, sleeping working and exchanging goods. They follow complex social norms of the Mesopotamian society and engage into complex interaction protocols. 

The video might not look super smooth, but it features a great project and showcases fantastic AI technology in action. We are proud to have contributed to building this exciting reconstruction.  

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