The quality of the immersive experience delivered by the driving simulator we have developed over recent months is nothing short of astounding. And you don’t just have to take our word for it, as a driving instructor who earns their living training other professional was ‘shocked’ by the realism and how easy it was to forget you were not really reversing up a motorway at 50mph, using only the mirrors, which really work. And that’s a first. This was our week.
Week commencing 14 September
Toby – Managing Director
This week we demonstrated our Mixed Reality driving simulator to a key client for the very first time.
Members of the driver training team and their leadership were suitably impressed. Total 360-degree immersion, the power to see yourself and a passenger, accurate mirrors, for a fraction of the cost of traditional driving simulators that offer a fraction of the functionality is surely a compelling offer.
Add to that, portability, bespoke design and build, with no ongoing license fees and it really ticks all the boxes. We are super proud of the whole team for what they’ve achieved and we’re thankful to the good people of Varjo for their support in developing this solution with their XR-1 headset.
Continuing to work “On” the business, our friends at Grounded.world are taking us through their Brand Activation process looking at all aspects of our small company, our client base, and the market in which we work.
It seems a good time to have ourselves audited by experts and they’ve already got us excited with some of their initial thoughts. More of this to follow in coming weeks.
Quick puppy update (Pupdate anyone?). Milo is settling in nicely:
Josh – Programme Manager
Managing our ongoing projects, whilst dealing with new enquiries has ensured a busy week. I spent time on brand activation chats, with Grounded.world and Toby as we look to push the business forward.
Dealt with insurance & asset management issues, whilst undertaking administration tasks related to the installation of the audio system in the Innovation Centre. Immersed myself (excuse the pun) in briefing and planning discussions for Highways England’s immersive technology showreel.
Finished packing for Traffic Officer VR project signoff and undertook the final Quality Assurance testing. Found time to jump in a few calls with motion systems/hardware manufacturers, who might provide the technology for the next stage of the driving simulator.
We had to spend time with Cat, our Lead Programmer, on handover notes as he’s returning to Uni, but we’re staying close.
I also had the misfortune this week to have to deal with Virgin for issues with our internet and it was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And failed at. Like many people we have come to the conclusion they are singularly the most useless company we’ve ever dealt with. Dave)
Sergio – Programmer
Nothing to report from me this week, except that I’m enjoying some time away from the office.
Stefano – 3D Artist
At the start of this week I began thinking of a trials and errors path to follow while assessing the best marker for AR, pushing this technique to its limits. We need to satisfy precise requirements like the maximum tracking distance, which still largely depends on the camera doing the filming.
The maximum distance should result in an average value, considering a reasonable size of the markers and the average level of a smartphone camera’s tracking capabilities.
For the rest of the week I’ve been recording footage from all the VR experiences we created for Highways England and editing them into a showreel. This also involved playing around with cinematic techniques in Unity, to achieve a more interesting effect.
Slava – Lead 3D Artist
It was time to apply my new skills in making custom characters using Character Creator 3. To visualise users in a VR environment in our Highways England Incident Management project we need avatars which correspond to their roles in scenario.
We will have traffic officers, police officers, trainers, and customers. I started with traffic officer, which presented the most challenging part of this character being the standard fluorescent jacket.
Fortunately, with some assets in Character Creator it’s possible to customise the clothes accurately. I made a custom multicolour mask for the jacket texture, where each colour corresponds to a specific material.
Then I made custom material for each part of the jacket. For the model of this jacket I used similar assets, which I adjusted for custom character. I still need to test this character in Unity and make additional accessories, such as a VR headset and backpack.
Although real Traffic Officers generally don’t wear VR headsets on the motorway, we need to make them for safety reasons to avoid accidental damage of the equipment, as users would not be aware that the VR headsets or backpacks exist if they are not visible on the avatar in the VR environment.
Kyung-Min – 3D Generalist
During my leave, I have been given time to develop my skillset through a personal development plan of projects. Looking deeper into substance designer proved beneficial but hard to concentrate due to my condition, however small steps were still made in progress leaving me confident about a gradual return to work.
I’m beginning my reintegration to work with a phased return, carefully managed with Toby and the health professionals. Having been away for some time, I know there will be a lot of catching up, but I’m also beginning my transition from remote working to being back in the new office.
I’m looking forward to being back amongst the team, which will not only help with catching up but also with my mental state and it’s been a true blessing how MXTreality has considered and accommodated my difficulties by putting people first, not just on paper but in reality and practice.
I can say without a doubt that MXTreality and the way the team reacted to my episode have been a huge part of my ongoing recovery. I hope to be back at full capacity soon and look forward to sharing what wonderful things we create to deliver truly immersive experiences for our clients.
Cat – Lead Programmer
This week has been spent getting Traffic Officer VR ready for deployment. I’ve been working to implement a dialog system to inform the user when they need to stand up or sit down, as it’s both a standing and seated experience.
This has proved frustratingly difficult, because there are so many different contexts it’s used in! Sometimes the user needs to sit down before starting a scenario, and other times they need to stand up mid-scenario as the narrative demands.
To change position, the user is expected to remove their headset in order to reposition themselves and ensure their play area is clear (say, of the chair they were just sitting on). This means that it’s impossible to ensure they’re facing the exact same direction as they were when taking off the headset. So, I’ve also implemented rotating the user to automatically face in the correct direction when sitting down – it would be a bit strange if you found yourself facing backwards in a car’s passenger seat.
Today we’ve all been finding everything we can still outstanding on the project and fixing what we can. It’s been a lengthy process, but it’s good and rewarding to finally be just about at completion.
Jordi – Programmer
Jordi didn’t submit a diary this week but I’m sure he’d like to talk about his visit to the Fire Services Training College in Moreton-in-Marsh where he set up and ran a demonstration of the Mixed Reality Driving Simulator that he’s played a major part in building.
He’d probably also mention that Toby paid for him and his partner to have an overnight stay, dinner, and lunch in Moreton as a thank you.
I’m confident he would also say something about his ongoing work on the traffic system, but I don’t really understand what he’s been doing on that really – it’s very complicated when the output is so detailed.