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[ 3D Google earth ]

This week Draw & Code have been one of the mentors chosen by Metal Culture to help a select group of artists to get the most from immersive technology. This gave us a chance to experiment with a few of our new toys, including the incredible Structure Sensor that puts 3D scanning into the hands of iPad users.

Our week started with a keynote from Draw & Code’s own Chris and John who took the eager artists through our immersive technology including the ever-popular Oculus Rift and our augmented reality prototypes. There were other keynotes from the The Kazimier who talked over the art of Arduino, our old friend Kelvin Brown took us into 3D sound, while Draw & Code collaborator Lauren Moffatt explained how she harnesses technology in her art and Does Liverpool got into the nuts and bolts of code.

The artists were mainly unfamiliar with code, but by the end of the week the aim is for them to produce projects using the technology at their disposal. There is no easy workflow for getting non-coders into using some of our tools such as Unity3D and Brekel, so we had to find some accessible software to accelerate their understanding of immersive tech. We used Metaio Creator to give the artists an easier way to get their ideas into an augmented reality format. This nifty toolkit is not great for custom work, but for a basic augmented reality demo it works a treat.

We use 3D scanning for our virtual reality projects and as the basis of some of our projection mapping shows, which usually requires a heavy duty sensor and specialist 3D handling software Brekel on a bulky desktop computer. Now that is all changing with the Structure Sensor. This remarkable piece of kit brings full depth sensing to the humble iPad and it is stunning. This is a whole new way to record the world around you; once 3D depth sensing is built into devices, as is the case with Google’s Project Tango, augmented reality will become a genuinely worthy new medium. And it will be a medium that you won’t need a degree in interactive art to exploit.

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Structure is as simple as pointing and tapping. Uploading your 3D model to Unity or into Maya, if you wish to polish up your creation, is a doddle too. In the afternoon we had gone from allowing the artists to make their very first 3D scans to putting these rudimentary scenes into a virtual reality environment. While all the attendees were familiar with Oculus, even if they were yet to try it out, most of the attendees were new to the Structure Sensor but they came away enthralled by the possibilities of 3D scanning. You can see one of our experimental shots using the device in the video above. The glitchy image of a train was taken right on Metal Culture’s doorstep as their gallery space is on the platform at Edge Hill Station.

The possibilities of fusing immersive technology and art together is thrilling. It was great to get artists together from different disciplines to see how they approached the technology and how it can be harnessed. We are evangelical about the possibilities that devices like Structure and Oculus hold, so it was great for us to meet artists who are also fired up about using these tools to reshape the way we experience the world.

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