The basic premise of the project was to create an experience for the customer that made them feel like they were walking around a Siemens factory, looking in detail at the cutting edge equipment Siemens had to offer.
The beauty of creating this project in Virtual Reality was that we could show additional levels of information that you couldn’t experience in real life. Contextual information that appears only when you look at a certain object, or the flow of energy running through the machinery itself.
There would be two main environments for the project. The first would be a realistic factory environment in which the customer would start, in which they could physically see and move around the machinery, looking at how it moves and operates.
The second would be a holographic, Iron Man-esque ‘data mode’ in which we could explain the products inner workings and show information that would otherwise never been seen in real life.
Territory Studios (The studio behind the Guardians of the Galaxy & Prometheus holographic motion graphics) were commissioned to kick start the concept through artwork and initial UI designs. (below)
It was decided that a screen would pop up to help the customer navigate their way through the environment, and control the Siemens products via a traditional mouse control. This would keep the experience familiar to the user, and not totally overwhelm them with the new technology.
It was important to keep the menu layout simple, to offset the complexity of the VR experience. We used 3d layering to give certain menus priority when selected, also giving the customer a ‘step-by-step’ feel when choosing functions of the machines.
Illustrations also helped retain the simplicity of operating the interface. We were reluctant to have to much written text information (this can disorientate the user in VR) so giving them visual imagery to distinguish between functions kept the experience uncomplicated.
(Illustrations keeping things simple)
A map was also essential, as the user (due to the majority of peoples inexperience with VR) would not be able to roam freely in the environment. This meant we could focus attention in a certain direction and create a seamless experience from the start to the end, stopping any accidental wandering.
To fully engage the customer we would have glance-activated animations that would display information, in context to what you have just looked at.
It was important to test these animations before it was built into the VR software, firstly to see if it was an effective method of delivering information, and also to establish wether the software would be able to handle such complex animations, without dropping the frame rate.
Below is one of the animations tests:
Below is a scene test of ‘filler’ animations that would give extra life to the experience: