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Interview: Simon Dutton, Inition

Paddy Baker 7 May 2015
Interview: Simon Dutton, Inition

With a track record spanning over 13 years and hundreds of installations, Inition is known for leveraging new technologies before they go mainstream. We talk to its managing director about the company ethos, its Demo Studio, and his views on VR and future technologies.

How best would you describe Inition to AV integrators?

Inition is a production company with a difference. Based in Shoreditch in east London, we specialise in the development of immersive, installation-based experiences, and we aim to bring great content to new technology platforms including 3D printing, 3D scanning, augmented reality and virtual reality, holographics and haptics, motion capture and 3D 360º filming.

How does your Demo Studio work? How does it help you to innovate, and what do clients get out of it?

The Inition Demo Studio is home to our range of cutting-edge technology as well as a selection of the latest award-winning interactive installations produced by our in-house team. Additionally, it supports the consultancy and technology-agnostic sales area of the business because we’re able to host live demonstrations of our products, including high-end 3D printers and scanners, motion-capture systems, haptics and unique visualisation displays.

The Demo Studio is used to host hands-on immersive meetings, enabling our clients to explore and, crucially, experience what has been achieved before, what can be accomplished now, and what they can expect for the future, using a multitude of technologies such as virtual or augmented reality as the delivery platform.

We also host a regular series of events, including showcases for popular festivals like Digital Shoreditch and London Technology Week, as well as our own sector-based events, and also Reality Tech Tuesdays.

What are Reality Tech Tuesdays?

Reality Tech Tuesdays occur on (most) first Tuesdays of the month and are a great opportunity for interested parties – such as Installation readers – to drop in and explore all the latest interactive projects created by the team at Inition as well as the range of cutting-edge technologies for professional applications.

Regarding sector-based networking events – such as the recently reported Future of Retail – what’s the idea behind these and what’s coming up?

To continue developing partnerships across the broad range of industries we work in, we host sector-specific events which align complementary services and products. In April we hosted ‘Integrating Emerging Technologies in AEC’ for professionals within the architecture, engineering and construction sectors, which featured presentations, thought discussions and live demonstrations of just how our technology could be integrated into these fields. We’re always on the lookout for new event ideas and potential new relationships, so if you would like to partner with us please get in touch!

As well as working with integrators, Inition also works with agencies, direct with end clients and also your parent company SuperCommunications. Where does Inition see its client base?

We have traditionally produced class-leading work across a number of verticals, but now under the banner of SuperCommunications we have been able to significantly expand our capability and, with it, our client base. We offer a unique blend of creative talent underpinned by a high level of technical expertise, consultancy and data solutions.

What does SuperCommunications do, and how does Inition work with it?

To stay ahead, businesses must become ‘tech brands’. SuperCommunications has a unique blend of skills to help businesses leverage technology to streamline internal execution and engage customers emotionally with maximum reach and depth. We do this through a combination of big thinking, technology skills, internal change and creativity.

There is no doubt that the approach to technology across all sectors is changing at a very fast rate – ‘do or die’ has never been a more prescient mantra. Fluid and engaging customer experience, together with a seamless union of the online and offline and a strong data-driven culture, constitutes the ‘holy grail’. That’s where technology is the catalyst and driving engine.

However, technology alone is rarely the answer. We also have a team of talented IT, content, production and post-production specialists behind us, so we are able to offer great and engaging content.

Inition is seen by many as a champion of virtual reality and 3D printing technology. Is this a fair representation and can you explain how the company grew this reputation?

Inition has always been an early adopter of new technology, which has historically enabled us to build ground-breaking experience-delivering work before anyone else. VR and 3D printing have recently exploded in their popularity and have captured everyone’s imagination; however, they’re just two of the areas we work in and, as such, we’re always well placed to offer customers the ‘next big thing’ in emerging tech.

What’s your view of the multi-touch market, in terms of what’s best suited for installers?

We recently installed a multi-touch table (a 55in MultiTouch by MultiTaction) in our Demo Studio. The key to multi-touch products is in the application. As people are now used to touch interfaces in tablets and smartphones, large-form touch displays have a standard to live up to. The functionality therefore has to be enhanced by the content delivered. Combining content with marker recognition provides additional potential, which can broaden how people perceive the benefits of display technologies.

What’s your opinion of Oculus Rift and the other VR headsets, and how do you see them fitting in to future installations and dovetailing with other technologies?

Oculus is a starting point – a very good one. Now that VR is ‘on trend’ we’re beginning to see more impressive headsets enter the market, which makes us genuinely excited about the future of the technology. Sony’s Morpheus, Samsung’s Gear VR and the HTC/Valve Vive headset are just a handful of the other headsets either out at present or close to release showing there is genuine interest from the industry’s biggest names.

There’s a range of ways we see these technologies evolving in the immediate future and three to five years beyond that. Eventually, what we will see is the coming together of VR, gestural technology and augmented reality and the development of all-in-one, singular devices, which capture the best of each. The user will be offered a more intuitive interactive experience, whether by viewing virtual content overlaid onto the real world, or something entirely virtual that’s based on the physical dimensions of their surrounds, enabling them to explore a virtual space organically, without the worry of injuring themselves.

In terms of installations, we see smartphone-based Google Cardboard-type devices becoming hugely popular, massively expanding the accessibility of the medium and, by proxy, a brand’s exposure. This depends largely on what brands want to get out of developing a VR experience: do they want the exclusivity of an in-store experience that demands an in-person presence on location, or do they want something more mobile, that has a wider reach? We think the most ground-breaking installations, however, will be on location as they will involve cutting-edge tech that most people don’t have access to in their own homes.

What new innovations for existing tech are around the corner and what can we expect to see in terms of installation experiences?

The new product we’re most excited about within the display sector is the Transparent OLED Technology from Planar. The company has a brilliant 55in unit, which has a small footprint and amazing wow factor. Indeed, the deployment potentials will be really exciting which is why, as a result, we think the take-up will be immense.

More portable and usable offerings from Microsoft by way of its HoloLens are promising, but until that is released, the R6 from Osterhout Development Group is the next best thing. Being portable, wireless, with a long battery life and high-quality lenses and functionality, it means the wearable technology market is starting to take off.

Inition is a finalist in next month’s InstallAwards – Retail, Transport and Public Space category – for the South Bank Tower HD Projection. Why did you put forward this particular project?

We were commissioned by L3 Creative Projects to deliver a unique panoramic installation that would bring the stunning penthouse views of CIT’s luxury, still-in-construction South Bank Tower to the state-of-the-art marketing suite situated at ground level. We succeeded in creating a stunning experience that exceeded client expectations. By seamlessly blending together 10 Full HD projectors and synchronous 10-channel playback, the vista, seen through windows in the ground floor marketing suite, gives prospective buyers a realistic, 360º panoramic representation of what they might expect to see from the high-value premium apartments on the upper levels – the view is truly remarkable.

Finally, what up-and-coming technology is likely to set installers’ pulses racing in 2015 and beyond?

This is the kind of critical market intelligence we give to our customers. Anyone who’s interested in knowing which technologies we think will take off in the future is invited to visit us for a chat to see if we can find a good fit for their individual needs. Broadly though, we foresee head-worn AR devices and experiences, Kinect2-driven interactive videowalls, 360º 3D filmed and rendered VR experiences, print while you wait and faster 3D printing.

www.inition.co.uk

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