Fads come and go, but they should never obscure what we’re trying to communicate, says INITION chief executive Adrian Leu
The pen, the printing press, the telegraph, the phone, the internet. They were all invented years apart, but they all do one thing – bring people closer.
These technologies are the means to an end – sending a message.
Amid all the hype surrounding virtual reality and augmented reality, it is easy to forget that they too serve the same purpose.
They communicate a message, deliver an experience and bring us closer to the subject matter. They are not the subject matter itself.
Message not medium: it’s content that counts
At INITION, we are technology agnostic. That means we do not back one single technology: we believe that what matters most is content and purpose – the message, not the medium.
Rather than push the latest technological fads, we tailor what we do to each individual project. We know that no single creative solution fits all.
But being technology agnostic should not be mistaken for being generalist. Agnostic and specialist, we believe, are far from mutually exclusive.
INITION was founded in 2001. Since then, we’ve created many technology world firsts. We have a track record for backing the most successful emerging technologies well before they hit the mainstream.
That gives us a great advantage over competitors. You don’t want to be left flogging horses when the first Model T Ford has just rolled off the assembly line in Detroit.
If it’s new and good, we know about it
Our developers and creatives are in the enviable position of having access to a huge range of new technologies every day.
Manufacturers come to us for early feedback and rely on our experience with clients to help develop their products. By the time we present technologies to a client, we have spent many hours taming them in our studios.
We’ve been augmenting reality since 2006, printing in 3D for more than a decade and creating virtual realities from our beginnings.
We bought our first 3D printer in 2005. That year we began researching AR, with our first application going live for Samsung at the Turin Winter Olympics the next year.
INITION was first to use several emerging technologies in music and sport. We conceived and produced the world’s first 3D music broadcast of the band Keane from Abbey Road and the first transmission on Sky’s 3D channel six years ago.
We produced the award-winning live transmissions of Six Nations rugby games in 3D to 40 cinemas nationwide for O2 and with the Philharmonia Orchestra created one of the best 360-degree experiences of a classical music concert – another first.
It’s not what you’ve got, but how you use it
Immersive technologies have an impact on so many industries. We also work with enterprise clients such as BP and Jaguar Land Rover, providing immersive ways to spread marketing messages or reinvent how they train their staff.
We visualise abstract concepts and data for finance companies to provide a new way of engaging with clients based on fun, feel and function.
We get people to ‘walk’ through virtual environments and explore worlds that otherwise are only figments of the imagination or flat representations on a screen.
Two years ago, we used broadcasting VR to help Topshop bring people closer to fashion shows. We used early-stage technologies to create something exciting and risky.
Broadcasting VR is in its infancy – but sometimes you have to use pre-commercial technology to create an impact. To do that you have to work with people who know the technologies inside out. We take risks, but always with knowledge on our side.
VR is a tool, not a toy
Technology is not an end-point or form of decoration. Yet, frustratingly, it is often used as if it were. To avoid this, we ask clients what they want to achieve, then address the technology.
Having tools that you can rely on or combine to provide solutions is essential. To do that you must be technology agnostic.
Agnosticism also brings agility in the face of rapid development. Technologies are always evolving; you only have to look back at the early mobile phones with their batteries in a case.
In VR, AR and 3D printing, the main trends are embedding and miniaturisation, and these will affect how we regard these technologies and use them.
At INITION, we create experiences that put hardware, software and content together seamlessly. We show clients the benefits of engagement and provide measurable return on investment.
Progress does not necessarily happen in a straight line. Immersive media were much hyped in the 1990s but little happened. We accurately predicted a renaissance heralded by the launch of Sony’s head-mounted display in 2011.
We don’t tell our clients what will happen tomorrow, we tell them what will happen in a month’s time, in six months’ time, and how our technologies will affect their business.
For the past 15 years, INITION has explored these rapidly evolving fields. Much has changed. In the next 15 years, more will change as the technological path twists and turns.
But whatever comes next, our unifying vision won’t change.
Whether it’s an interface plugged straight into the cerebral cortex or handwritten letters on vellum delivered by drone, the aim remains the same – to connect, to bring people and experiences together.
The message, not the medium.
Adrian Leu is CEO of INITION