Local Digital Media Companies
My research brought me to the existing artificial reality industry players in Singapore. There is already quite a substantial number of digital media companies in Singapore. Many of them were startups from 5-8 years ago, when virtual reality was rather unheard of, at least in practice. Digimagic did a presentation of their portfolio at my office a few months ago. They are a very established player in the industry, having had a history of 17 years. Many of their developers are based in their Bangkok office, to cut manpower cost. Many of their ex-staff are freelancers now. Their offerings include augmented reality, 360 degree immersive theatre, gesture technology, projection mapping, interactive rotoscope and more. Their more noteworthy projects include a fully digital exhibition hall in Science Centre. They built a virtual aquarium with changeable environments.
Massive Infinity is an augmented reality company that occupies a small office within a larger co-work area with other media startups. The whole cluster of them is owned by Big 3 Media. The rest of the startups offer services like 3D animation production, viral video production, blogging, and app development. Having a few startups in one office space is a good idea as it is a convenient one-stop office for clients, many who come with diverse needs. My own creative ideas usually come in interactivity in all shapes and sizes.
Dreammarvel has been in the business for 8 years and has an office in Singapore and Beijing. A small outfit, they started with 3 persons and is now about 8-persons strong with a big pool of freelancers. As augmented and virtual reality were very new fields then, the demand was not high. They get their main source of income from 3D animation, visualization and walk-through videos. Technology evolved and app development became highly sought after, and this year, virtual and augmented reality caught up in popularity. One of their flagship projects was a video done for Nanyang Technological University to showcase as part of their involvement in Youth Olympic Games 2010. For this project, they pulled in 20 freelancers and worked on it for 4 years.
To have a better idea of budget and cost of different project ideas, I spoke to Michael Milne from Massive Infinity and Liu Yang from Dreammarvel and requested a quote from both companies for a current pitch for a shipping exhibition which I am working on. My ideas involved a mix of augmented reality, virtual reality and arduino interaction as described below:
- Virtual reality experience of Tuas Terminal
- An immersive virtual reality walkthrough of the interior of the future Tuas Terminal.
- Estimated Cost: $30,000 and up
- Interactive Touchscreen
- An intuitive touchscreen featuring different aspects of the company’s port management and global alliances using objects.
- When a particular object is placed on the touchscreen, animated information about that section will be displayed.
- Estimated Cost: $15,000 and up
- Augmented reality interviews
- Have an tablet in front of photos of staff from the shipping industry. Once the visitor points the tablet to the photo, an interview with the particular staff will play back.
- Estimated Cost: $15,000 and up
- Augmented reality virtual photobooth
- Visitors can stand in front of a big screen and see themselves with augmented reality props and uniforms. They can then capture a photo of themselves and send it back to their email.
- Estimated Cost: $15,000 and up
Overseas Digital Media Companies
A notable interactive exhibition company is Teamlab from Japan. Their forte is in highly immersive exhibitions, with one example being the recently concluded Future World at ArtScience Museum. Many world-class museums have already held their interactive exhibitions at their venues or are already planning to do so. They often curate an exhibition and repeat them at various locations around the world. These exhibitions offer a unique experience with amazing multi-sensory offerings that engage different senses from the body like auditory, kinesthetic, and olfactory senses and visitors leave with a great sense of fulfillment and fun.
One of the hottest startups in recent years, Magic Leap had enticed big technology companies to invest billions of dollars in them. It is not hard to imagine why, given the promise and vision the founder, Rony Abovitz, had in mind. This is not the only company creating mixed reality technology , as we can see from Microsoft Hololens, but the quality of its virtual visions exceeds others. Google was the first to invest, and to date, investors have already funneled US$1.4 billion into it.
Source: (Magic Leap Gives A Hope To Cease Zoos And Aquaria, 2015)
There is a surge in demand in this technology in recent years. Major technology companies have jumped on to the artificial reality bandwagon. Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Sony, Samsung – have whole groups dedicated to this and they are adding more engineers daily. Facebook has 400 people working on VR. There are 230 other companies like Meta, The Void, Atheer, Lytro and 8i working on hardware and content for this platform. (Kelly K., The Untold Story Of Magic Leap, The World’s Most Secretive Startup, 2016)
Exhibition Design Companies
Pico, a leading exhibition design company in Singapore, included digital works under their portfolio (Work | Pico, 2016). A closer at their career opportunities in their website (People | Pico, 2016) turned up jobs with the tradition skills set like design, project management, drafting, and account management. A check with Dreammarvel revealed that Pico had approached them to design an interactive environment for the Singapore Pavilion at World Expo 2012. It is likely that they have outsourced their digital projects to digital media companies like Dreammarvel.
Again, Kingsmen, another leading local design company included a page for “interactive media” in their company website (Portfolio – Kingsmen). They have an advertising arm called Ooh Media; partly owned by Mediacorp; which provides outdoor advertising platforms like bus shelters and digital billboards.
Clients are now savvy enough to be on the lookout for agencies that can produce turnkey solutions from conceptualization to buildup and these include more than just exhibition design. They are looking for companies that can manage interactive solutions and social media marketing for event activation. Exhibition and event planning have certainly become way more sophisticated than they used to be years ago. Yet, to include these items into a cost effective proposal remains a huge challenge. How can exhibition design companies remain lean and still provide cutting edge turnkey solutions for today’s savvy clients? We will explore this in the last part of this report: Business Transformation.
From the research, I would say that the artificial reality industry is in a good place right now. Where ideas and concepts were waiting for technology to catch up years ago, now technology has reached a stage where ideas can be realized and amazing concepts in any field (i.e. advertising, exhibit design, e-commerce, and event activation) can be done with this arena. It is an exciting time and it is time to discover ways to make it an effective marketing reality.
- “NTU 3D Virtual Tour”. YouTube. N.p., 2016. Web.
- Theoctant.org. N.p., 2016. Web. 2016.
- “Magic Leap Gives A Hope To Cease Zoos And Aquaria”. YouTube. N.p., 2016. Web. 2015.
- Kelly K., “The Untold Story Of Magic Leap, The World’S Most Secretive Startup”. WIRED. N.p., 2016. Web.
- “Work | Pico”. Pico. N.p., 2016. Web. 2016.
- “People | Pico”. Pico. N.p., 2016. Web. 2016.
- “Portfolio – Kingsmen”. Kingsmen. N.p., 2016. Web. 2016.