Picture this scene. A man in a tight yellow top talking into his wristwatch to another man with extremely pointed ears, a half frown and an equally tight top, this time in blue. You then hear the infamous words "Beam me up Scotty". I’m sure we all know this to be from cult TV series Star Trek.
Now picture yourself in 15 years' time doing exactly the same thing, but in your own living room. This was the vision of a pioneering project appropriately called Beaming, where a number of world-class R+D institutions and universities came together to explore the idea of ‘telepresence’ and test the waters for how this could become a future reality.
The topic was discussed as part of an academic study called Agency 2030 in collaboration between UCL and DH Ready, a cross-discipline creative consultancy. One of the speakers was Professor Anthony Steed (Virtual Environments and Computer Graphics at UCL) who provided a background on the beaming project and provoked new conversations about how this could reinvent brand experiences as we know it.
What is beaming?
Beaming was a four-year European Commission funded collaborative project ending in 2014. Undertaken to research the area of teleportation, the project was successful in transporting individuals from Barcelona to London, by combining a number of cutting-edge emerging technologies and scientific methods including robotics, haptics, VR, AR, neuroscience, depth-sensing technologies, 360-degree cameras and computer graphics.
In beaming, unlike the virtual worlds of advanced video conferencing, shared virtual environments and gaming such as Second Life, the robot or avatar interacts with real people in a real place in real-time. Steed said: "For the first time beaming will give people a real sense of physically being in a remote location with other people, and vice versa - without actually travelling."
Changing the face of brand experiences
Interactive, immersive and sensory experiences aren’t anything new in branded events, but beaming offers a revolution to take this to a higher level with brands and products being brought to life, sampled and experienced in mixed-reality worlds. Imagine brand ambassadors based in London being able to physically connect with people in New York in real-time.
There are early signs that this is already happening with 'mini beam' case examples in the automobile industry with McLaren’s elite VR systems and Mercedes' 'virtual showrooms', to the leisure and entertainment worlds with Marriott Hotels’ ‘Magic of Miles’ teleporter hubs - a 4D virtual travel experience allowing people to leap from one holiday destination to another using Oculus Rift.
Beaming is no longer pure science fiction - it’s next. Is it time your brand became tomorrow ready, today?
Duane Holland, founder and creative strategy director at DH Ready
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