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As technologies develop, they can either expand or merge with others to create new techniques. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented (AR) were once regarded as separate entities but recently have come closer together, forming the umbrella category of XR. Alongside this are newer approaches to technologically created environments, such as spatial XR, mixed reality (MR) and alternative reality.

A company that has been exploring this field since the initial days of the technology is The Elumenati. Based in Milwaukee, this design and engineering company has established itself in the immersive visualisation market with a range of products and technologies, from the GeoDome line of turnkey products to bespoke immersive installations. Key amongst these are projection domes, which are used to create a wide variety of physical XR spaces for the entertainment, enterprise and education markets.

“The founders were involved in the first wave of VR in the 1990s, and created The Elumenati in 2003,” comments vice president of sales and marketing Hilary McVicker. “Our immersive projection designs have included domes, panoramas, 360° Cycloramas, and even globes as venues where audiences can experience 360-degree content without the need for headsets. These systems solve the operations issues presented by headsets, and create shared, collaborative experiences.”

McVicker explains that The Elumenati designs and builds physical spaces in which projection tells a story or delivers a message. In the education sector, these range from traditional fulldomes with overhead imagery to interactive attractions in museums and visitor centres. McVicker points out that most people would think of a dome-like environment being used as a planetarium. “We do build those, offering space and Earth science content in collaboration with NASA, but have gone beyond that to explore life sciences, arts and culture,” she says.

Recent museum work includes an interactive exploration of Life in the Universe at the Bell Museum in Minneapolis and an exploration of mosque architecture around the world as part of an exhibition about Islam for the Children’s Museum of Manhattan.

In enterprise, XR is used for experiential marketing, serving as an attractor and ensuring messages stick. The Elumenati has also adapted the technology to create a new tool for civil engineering, a design review tool that allows teams to walk through 360° content with their clients.

In location-based entertainment, dark rides, soaring rides and other theme park attractions are ideal applications of immersive projection. Animation is also being incorporated as with the immersive sleigh ride The Elumenati designed as part of Dreamworks’ DreamPlace holiday experiences. The travel and tourism industry is increasingly looking toward immersive experiences, like the Discovery at Sea project in Elumenati GeoDomes on multiple Princess Cruise Lines ships.

The Elumenati’s approach to XR incorporates its OmniFocus fisheye lenses, OpenDome screens, suite of interactive software applications and a variety of user interfaces. Audio is another critical component, with clients like Virginia Tech’s Institute of Creative Arts and Technology leading the field in spatial audio research in its 360° Cyclorama.

McVicker comments that immersive XR environments support a cross-disciplinary approach. “Many of our projects happen at the intersection of these markets. We’re taking entertainment and gaming technology into education and from there into the business world,” she concludes.

Hilary McVicker will present Immersive XR and Pushing Creative Boundaries at the XR Summit during ISE 2020.

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XR Summit ISE (XRS) is a half-day conference produced by Integrated Systems Events. XRS explores the latest in Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality business strategies, technologies and solutions. It is being held on 11 February 2020 at the Hotel Okura during Integrated Systems Europe (ISE), the world’s largest exhibition for professional AV and systems integration (11-14 February 2020, RAI Amsterdam).

  • XR Summit (XRS) ISE 2020
  • Tuesday 12 February 2020, 14:00-18:00
  • Hotel Okura, Amsterdam
  • Tickets are available here