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Draw & Code are almost ready to reveal our stunning exhibition stand in California for this 2015’s Augmented World Expo. This is no ordinary stand – it brings together virtual reality, augmented reality and projections into one immersive experience.

AWE 2015 opens to the public today, although the Draw & Code team has already set up shop in California where we are putting the finishing touches to our latest immersive technology prototype dubbed Companion. So what makes this particular project so special? Companion is a pioneering fusion of virtual and augmented reality that allows multiple users on various devices to interact in the same 3D world.

AWE 2015

The inspiration for the Companion came from a few different places. First up, we were frustrated by the solitary nature of a typical virtual reality experience. Since we moved from the Oculus Rift DK1 to the DK2, then latterly to the Samsung Gear VR, we have not had the virtual world that is seen within the headset outputting to a screen. This meant that we keep finding ourselves asking the user to describe where they are in the virtual world and from their answer we then fumble to give them meaningful instructions on where to go and what to look for. It would be far better if we could see, or even interact with them, inside the virtual world.

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Secondly, with AWE 2015 approaching we decided that we needed to present an exhibition stand that represented Draw & Code’s three main specialisms; virtual reality, augmented reality and projection mapping. It would be easy enough to demonstrate all these separately, but why not create one immersive experience that can be shared by show-goers? Companion was the answer.

We have elected to showcase this technology using a video game, just as we did last year when we used Space Invaders as the basis of our augmented reality gaming demo at AWE. This time around it’s Pac Man that provides the inspiration as we again take a classic gaming mechanic and bring it bang up to date.

What makes this experience really special is that the player using the virtual reality headset is no longer alone. Other players, who are using tablets to interact in the same environment via augmented reality, will join the VR user in the 3D world. This coming together of VR and AR is device agnostic – meaning that a variety of platforms can be used for players to interact with each other. For example, we’ll be using an Android-powered Samsung Gear VR to interact with users on Apple iPads and a Macbook as we smash the device-divide.

Another problem with virtual reality experiences is that without the budget for multiple headsets users have to wait to take their turn. With our AWE 2015 stand they can watch the action unfold as the 3D world is outputted to a laptop and projected onto the stand. For this we’ve used Casio’s brilliant Ultra Short Throw projectors; as you can see in the above video they are mightily effective even in the brightly-lit Santa Clara Convention Center.

If you are at AWE 2015 come and find us on Stand 21 in the Experience Lounge where we will demonstrate this exciting new technology for you.

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