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#DynamoDoes CES 2017

Ah, CES – another January, another batch of exciting tech, another return flight with broken bodies (but thankfully, not spirits).

Some things don’t change, but often the lineup of Dynamo attendees does – this time, it was Heather and myself taking up the challenge of dazzling lights and sleepless nights.

Here’s our highlights from the show this year – sadly, getting sprayed with champagne by Lil’ John at Hakkasan didn’t quite make the cut, mostly because Heather is intent on sending him a dry cleaning bill…

Concept Cars

The Mercedes Benz EQ concept car

Top billing had to be, much like 2016, automotive tech. CES has, for the last couple of years, been touted to overtake industry events such the Detroit Auto Show, and 2017 was seen by many as that tipping point. NVIDIA were the stars of the show here, making waves with their partnership with Mercedes on the concept car EQ (pictured), which drew crowds thanks to its sophisticated blend of electro wizardry and aesthetics.

NVIDIA also showcased their partnership with Audi, and revealed their joint commitment to delivering a self-driving car by 2020, complete with fully integrated AI and facial recognition. With many other companies reluctant to commit to a delivery date for their concepts, this partnership boldly revealing such a close date has showed us that the true ‘cars of the future’ are much closer than previously imagined.

Homer, you were ahead of your time, buddy.

World’s Fair

This year saw a much more global feel to previous shows, with 41% of companies exhibiting hailing from China. In addition, this year all Chinese companies weren’t confined to a specific section of the show floor, but rather all booths were intermingled. Also, CES 2017 saw a large influx of French companies, with around 240 hardware companies from the region showing their wares, and actually making up a third of the population of Eureka Park. The trend of growing international diversity year on year at the show is a fascinating development, and from an agency perspective, certainly creates ‘areas to watch’ in terms of innovation and exciting new businesses.

Eureka Park

Although the LVCC played host to the household names and multi-million dollar projects, Eureka Park was, personally, the most exciting part of the show. Cool new ideas – some frivolous, some with potentially useful global impact – were in abundance, with smaller, eager teams excited to show off their game-changing concepts. The techniques each company adopted (in some or all cases) in order to stand out as the next big thing can be broken down into simple categories:

  1. Pushing the capabilities of a current technology e.g. enhanced graphics, improved UI, use of peripherals (particularly in VR, with the use of haptics)
  2. Modifying a current technology to produce different user cases, and subsequently, our understanding of said technologies’ potential eg. a fireplace controlled by music – music driven objects are nothing new, but to be seen with fire was quite the thing, and certainly got us thinking about more capabilities of sound-driven technology
  3. Creating a visual, product driven solution to a previously nebulous concept/software driven project, thus driving forward consumer understanding – a great example of this is in the below picture, which we’ll leave you with. I jumped out of my skin when I saw this 3D face scanning booth (and the people at the booth got a good laugh at my expense).

Proving that heads on spikes that can be futuristic as well as historical.

We all know about face scanning, but to see a very realistic head on a spike is both disconcerting and intriguing – especially when you realise the model it’s based on (and the creator) is there watching your reaction! He was nice enough to pose for a photo though, so I didn’t feel completely embarrassed.

So we’re already looking forward to next year’s show now, and whether we’ll be driving more underwater 4K cameras, or learning more about pyjamas that energise you while you sleep, I’m confident that whichever capacity we’ll be attending in, and whoever we’re working with, it’ll certainly be memorable (apart from the blurry evening parties bit).


Must know VR discussion points from London Games Festival’s VR Summit

London Games Festival Logo

London Games Festival, a new annual event to celebrate the games industry’s huge cultural and economic impact right here in London, hosted a Virtual Reality Summit this week.

I was on the ground listening to speakers talk about all things VR – everything from how games, film and VFX collide, to how developers work behind the scenes to create amazing VR, to the challenges we face with the ever-growing VR market.

Here are my five key takeaways from the first ever London Games Festival VR Summit:

VR is big business – and will get bigger

More than $250million was invested in software alone from VCs to the VR industry in 2015. China is a market to watch as its games market is already worth 22 billion dollars, and large Chinese companies are getting in on the VR game which we will be able to tap into. However, VR brands and companies need to think about the end experience. People will only spend money in VR if it’s on things they care as much about as the things they have in real life.

The industry must learn to share

The idea that developers must share ideas for the VR industry to progress was a key theme. “People who go it alone will fail”, states Sam Gage from previsualization company The Third Floor. People working in VR should even consider sharing their data online for those in the community to help improve on their work; solving problems that they themselves missed.

We can solve VR sickness

Queasiness is still a problem for some VR users, but there are ways this can be controlled with session length, reduced lag and expectation managing. Matthew Newcombe at Ustwo explained how when making Land’s End it was key is for the player to transport to their destination with intuitive “gaze points”. VR should feel comfortable and autonomous, as though if you want to go somewhere you can, but with gentle encouragement to stay within the right space (just as players solve puzzles in a cylinder shape in Land’s End).

Matthew Newcombe from Ustwo speaking honestly about VR development at the VR Summit

Matthew Newcombe from Ustwo speaking honestly about VR development at the VR Summit

VR is still in its infancy

NVIDIA’s Phil Scott argued that VR is not a revolution, but the start of an evolution. We haven’t had the “Mario 64” moment yet – the culturally defining peak that people resonate with. While the Sci Fi London Film Festival shared a rather dark video about how the layers of VR reality could affect us, others warned that we need to nail the basics of VR before getting too ambitious, lamented over the possibility of a VR system untethered from wires, and imagined a new kind of shared, social VR experience.

The quiet renaissance

One of the final thoughts of the day came from Herman Narula, CEO at Improbable. He talked of a subtle shift in the industry – a quiet renaissance in VR, a new freedom in making the game world come to life. VR demands new ways of telling stories from developers. Just as NVIDIA’s Everest demo is hailed as a great example of how VR can convey real experiences, developers are now having to rethink how gamers experience a narrative – how VR as a new medium can tell stories in a new language, and for a potentially new audience.

For those of you keen to explore other VR events on offer, why not head over to Bristol’s VR World Congress next week, Storytelling in VR on 26 April or VRX in London next month, to name a few.

Emma Seddon
Emma Seddon
Categories: Events, Gaming, VR

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