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Technology
Bringing digital to life

Quizzing curators about an exhibit, recreating walkthroughs and creating new income streams. Is ‘extended reality’ the way forward for attractions? Kath Hudson speaks to White Light about the potential of this exciting use of technology


Across the world businesses found themselves having to pivot overnight last March in order to take their experience or service online; this posed an enormous challenge for the attractions industry. How could an online experience possibly measure up to the wonder of looking at a masterpiece in a gallery, the engagement of an interactive exhibit, or the thrill of a theme park ride?

White Light has been at the forefront of digital technology since its formation 50 years ago, and believes that extended reality is the answer. “It has the potential to complement the live experience, as well as create a ‘money can’t buy’ experience in its own right,” says project manager, Jason Larcombe.

Initially creating immersive experiences for stage shows, White Light moved into the attractions industry in the early 2000s and has since collaborated on a range of exhibitions for museums, including Leonardo: Experience a Masterpiece at The National Gallery, London, and David Bowie Is and Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains at the V&A, London. Now the team are speaking to clients in the attractions sector about how extended reality can be part of operators’ strategies going forward.

“Over the first few months of the pandemic we saw a lot of reactive work with museums doing something quick to relate to audiences,” says Larcombe. “Initially feelings were that COVID-19 would be over with by October 2020 but now everyone is acknowledging that even if the situation does resolve over the next six, nine or 12 months, there’s been a shift towards receiving information on digital platforms and an appreciation of how that can work. We’re now using a range of toolkits to fulfil briefs and to prove that technology can deliver something which is on a par with the live experience.”

New opportunities
Larcombe says that many museums and galleries were reluctant to put too much content on line, because of concerns it would stop people coming to the attraction, but now there’s an understanding that a unique online experience enables a new connection with the audience.

“If you’re interested in Andy Warhol, then nothing will beat a visit to an exhibition of his work,” he says. “But if you can also have a conversation with the curator from your home, that’s a money-can’t-buy-experience which complements the live event. This technology offers so many new opportunities.”

When Larcombe talks about having a conversation with the curator, he doesn’t mean a Zoom call. Augmented reality and extended reality (xR) technologies can allow the curator to appear in your living room for a face to face conversation, or appear live in a virtual environment to interact with an audience, even if they’re in other places.

The technology was first used by Eurosport during the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, when White Light worked with another technology company, Disguise, to create a pioneering mixed-reality television studio, into which they could teleport an athlete, using augmented reality, and wrap content around them. It was incredibly effective as it looked as though the presenter and athlete were having a face to face conversation. Other pundits could also be beamed in from separate locations and they could all have natural conversations, while the presenter could interact with augmented reality graphics and props.

White Light has since taken this technology and created the SmartStage product which offers exciting potential for many industries, including attractions and hospitality. White Light’s technical solutions manager, Andy Hook, explains how the company is talking to motor racing teams about an experience to offer their sponsors.

“Sponsors spend a lot of money in order to send people to races and without being able to attend, the sponsorship was in jeopardy. This technology allows us to create an experience where clients could virtually go inside the factory and see a race car being pulled apart, with bits flying around, and ask questions of the engineers.”

Hook adds that this technology offers a great way of personalising the experience: “With augmented reality you can do all sorts of things for sponsors, such as making a logo pop up from the floor.”

Wider audience
Larcombe also believes this technology has great potential for heritage locations and museums to allow them to reach out to a wider demographic and a global audience. “It allows the heritage sector to go all over the world with their experience and find new audiences,” he says. “Digital is a great way of being able to connect.”

There’s also the potential to make this into an income stream. Hook says a museum could create an online show using SmartStage to teleport in experts to present, take questions and use augmented reality props. “There are lots of different ways that this content could be monetised,” he says. “If it’s just consuming content online, with no interaction, that could be free, whereas a charge could be made to ask a question of the person presenting or to see an additional camera angle. Then a higher price could be charged to see all the camera angles or a premium to actually appear on the screen and ask questions.”

Going forward, Hook and Larcombe believe augmented reality will become much more commonplace, with wearable AR devices as common as iPhones, allowing us all to augment our normal vision on a day to day basis.

“Attractions operators will be able to take advantage of this technology to create more interactive and collaborative features,” says Larcombe. “The experience could be personalised. With xR you could point your device at the immersive display and the information would appear curated to your needs. The same display could be used to reveal a more pictorial version of the content for young people as they explore the space, or a more detailed text heavy version for adults.”

Whatever happens with COVID-19, 2020 has changed us all, creating a remote audience which is here to stay and offers new commercial potential. Larcombe predicts that going forward we can expect to see digital attractions supporting physical ones. For example a virtual rollercoaster, which can build excitement before a visit and allow people to relive the experience afterwards, as well as create the desire to go and visit the real thing, and give a flavour of what it’s about for those who will never be able to visit.

Extending the concept
Virtual reality:

Put something on your head to take you into a siloed immersive environment.

Augmented reality:

Adding digital content over a person’s real vision to advance that individual’s own vision or digital communications.

Extended reality (xR):

An umbrella term covering all these technologies but is now starting to mean technology which is immersing the audience and allowing a shared experience.

Pink Floyd at the V&A Credit: Photo: LD Communications
White Light was technical facilitator for the National Gallery’s da Vinci exhibition Credit: Photo: Matt Chung
A mixed reality studio was created for the 2018 Winter Olympics Credit: Photo: White Light
White Light oversaw the lighting installation for the Pink Floyd exhibition at the V&A Credit: Photo: LD Communications
White Light project manager Jason Larcombe (left) and Technical solutions manager Andy Hook (right)
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Jobs   News   Products   Magazine
Technology
Bringing digital to life

Quizzing curators about an exhibit, recreating walkthroughs and creating new income streams. Is ‘extended reality’ the way forward for attractions? Kath Hudson speaks to White Light about the potential of this exciting use of technology


Across the world businesses found themselves having to pivot overnight last March in order to take their experience or service online; this posed an enormous challenge for the attractions industry. How could an online experience possibly measure up to the wonder of looking at a masterpiece in a gallery, the engagement of an interactive exhibit, or the thrill of a theme park ride?

White Light has been at the forefront of digital technology since its formation 50 years ago, and believes that extended reality is the answer. “It has the potential to complement the live experience, as well as create a ‘money can’t buy’ experience in its own right,” says project manager, Jason Larcombe.

Initially creating immersive experiences for stage shows, White Light moved into the attractions industry in the early 2000s and has since collaborated on a range of exhibitions for museums, including Leonardo: Experience a Masterpiece at The National Gallery, London, and David Bowie Is and Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains at the V&A, London. Now the team are speaking to clients in the attractions sector about how extended reality can be part of operators’ strategies going forward.

“Over the first few months of the pandemic we saw a lot of reactive work with museums doing something quick to relate to audiences,” says Larcombe. “Initially feelings were that COVID-19 would be over with by October 2020 but now everyone is acknowledging that even if the situation does resolve over the next six, nine or 12 months, there’s been a shift towards receiving information on digital platforms and an appreciation of how that can work. We’re now using a range of toolkits to fulfil briefs and to prove that technology can deliver something which is on a par with the live experience.”

New opportunities
Larcombe says that many museums and galleries were reluctant to put too much content on line, because of concerns it would stop people coming to the attraction, but now there’s an understanding that a unique online experience enables a new connection with the audience.

“If you’re interested in Andy Warhol, then nothing will beat a visit to an exhibition of his work,” he says. “But if you can also have a conversation with the curator from your home, that’s a money-can’t-buy-experience which complements the live event. This technology offers so many new opportunities.”

When Larcombe talks about having a conversation with the curator, he doesn’t mean a Zoom call. Augmented reality and extended reality (xR) technologies can allow the curator to appear in your living room for a face to face conversation, or appear live in a virtual environment to interact with an audience, even if they’re in other places.

The technology was first used by Eurosport during the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, when White Light worked with another technology company, Disguise, to create a pioneering mixed-reality television studio, into which they could teleport an athlete, using augmented reality, and wrap content around them. It was incredibly effective as it looked as though the presenter and athlete were having a face to face conversation. Other pundits could also be beamed in from separate locations and they could all have natural conversations, while the presenter could interact with augmented reality graphics and props.

White Light has since taken this technology and created the SmartStage product which offers exciting potential for many industries, including attractions and hospitality. White Light’s technical solutions manager, Andy Hook, explains how the company is talking to motor racing teams about an experience to offer their sponsors.

“Sponsors spend a lot of money in order to send people to races and without being able to attend, the sponsorship was in jeopardy. This technology allows us to create an experience where clients could virtually go inside the factory and see a race car being pulled apart, with bits flying around, and ask questions of the engineers.”

Hook adds that this technology offers a great way of personalising the experience: “With augmented reality you can do all sorts of things for sponsors, such as making a logo pop up from the floor.”

Wider audience
Larcombe also believes this technology has great potential for heritage locations and museums to allow them to reach out to a wider demographic and a global audience. “It allows the heritage sector to go all over the world with their experience and find new audiences,” he says. “Digital is a great way of being able to connect.”

There’s also the potential to make this into an income stream. Hook says a museum could create an online show using SmartStage to teleport in experts to present, take questions and use augmented reality props. “There are lots of different ways that this content could be monetised,” he says. “If it’s just consuming content online, with no interaction, that could be free, whereas a charge could be made to ask a question of the person presenting or to see an additional camera angle. Then a higher price could be charged to see all the camera angles or a premium to actually appear on the screen and ask questions.”

Going forward, Hook and Larcombe believe augmented reality will become much more commonplace, with wearable AR devices as common as iPhones, allowing us all to augment our normal vision on a day to day basis.

“Attractions operators will be able to take advantage of this technology to create more interactive and collaborative features,” says Larcombe. “The experience could be personalised. With xR you could point your device at the immersive display and the information would appear curated to your needs. The same display could be used to reveal a more pictorial version of the content for young people as they explore the space, or a more detailed text heavy version for adults.”

Whatever happens with COVID-19, 2020 has changed us all, creating a remote audience which is here to stay and offers new commercial potential. Larcombe predicts that going forward we can expect to see digital attractions supporting physical ones. For example a virtual rollercoaster, which can build excitement before a visit and allow people to relive the experience afterwards, as well as create the desire to go and visit the real thing, and give a flavour of what it’s about for those who will never be able to visit.

Extending the concept
Virtual reality:

Put something on your head to take you into a siloed immersive environment.

Augmented reality:

Adding digital content over a person’s real vision to advance that individual’s own vision or digital communications.

Extended reality (xR):

An umbrella term covering all these technologies but is now starting to mean technology which is immersing the audience and allowing a shared experience.

Pink Floyd at the V&A Credit: Photo: LD Communications
White Light was technical facilitator for the National Gallery’s da Vinci exhibition Credit: Photo: Matt Chung
A mixed reality studio was created for the 2018 Winter Olympics Credit: Photo: White Light
White Light oversaw the lighting installation for the Pink Floyd exhibition at the V&A Credit: Photo: LD Communications
White Light project manager Jason Larcombe (left) and Technical solutions manager Andy Hook (right)
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First images revealed of David Walliams' Gangsta Granny ride at Alton Towers
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International design challenge offers US$20k prize
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COMPANY PROFILES
Polin Waterparks

Polin was founded in Istanbul in 1976. Polin has since grown into a leading company in the waterpa [more...]
DJW

David & Lynn Willrich started the Company over thirty years ago, from the Audio Visual Department [more...]
Alterface

Alterface’s Creative Division team is seasoned in concept and ride development, as well as storyte [more...]
Simworx Ltd

The company was initially established in 1997. Terry Monkton and Andrew Roberts are the key stakeh [more...]
+ More profiles  
FEATURED SUPPLIER

Triotech and Benoit Cornet’s Bold Move to collaborate on breakthrough innovative media-based attractions
Triotech has announced a breakthrough alliance with Benoit Cornet and Bold Move to bring a new collaborative approach to the design of media-based attractions – with an emphasis on adding value for operators. [more...]
VIDEO GALLERY

Animalive - Introducing AnimaChat!
Introducing AnimaChat, one operator can live-stream into multiple venues. Find out more...
More videos:
+ More videos  

CATALOGUE GALLERY
+ More catalogues  
DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

05-07 May 2021

TEA SATE Europe 2020

PortAventura World, Tarragona, Spain
09 Jun 2021

IAAPA Expo Asia 2021

The Venetian Macao, Macao, China
+ More diary  
 


ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media
Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2021

ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
LEISURE MEDIA HANDBOOKS
LEISURE MEDIA WEBSITES
LEISURE MEDIA PRODUCT SEARCH
ATTRACTIONS MANAGEMENT NEWS
ATTRACTIONS HANDBOOK
PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS