30 September 2015

September Newsletter - RosettaVR on Google Play store

In this latest issue of the Daden Newsletter we look at:

  • The release of RosettaVR, our first VR application for Google Cardboard on Android. This lets you view Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and the ESA Rosetta probe and Philae lander in full immersive 3D. The app is a free download from the Android Play store. We can use the same technology to put your products, locations, processes or lessons into the hands of your users.
  • The work we've done with schools, universities and other stakeholders on our Virtual Field Trips project as part of InnovateUK's Design for Impact project. We now have a clear feasibility design for how to build and roll out virtual field trips as a national (or even international) service to allow schools and universities across the globe to create, share and conduct virtual field trips of their own.
+++ STOP PRESS - We have just been told that we now have Phase 2 funding for Virtual Field Trips - more next issue +++

We also provide a quick preview of our forthcoming 2nd Generation Datascape 3D immersive data visualisation application - more next time.

We hope you enjoy the newsletter, and do get in touch if you would like to discuss any of the topics raised in the newsletter, or our products and services, in more detail!

Download your PDF copy of the newsletter 

25 September 2015

Daden releases Rosetta Mission in VR on Google Cardboard


We released our first Google Cardboard VR app onto the Google Play store today. RosettaVR lets you look at Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko and the Rosetta probe and Philae Lander. For the comet we have both the official ESA 3D shape model, and the textured model developed by Mattias Malmer. For the first release we've reduced the resolution of the models to make for a smaller download, but plan to make a "pro" release shortly with the full size models. The Rosetta and Philae models are from EGPJET3D, and the probe includes an animation mode so that you can watch the huge solar panels expand out.

We've used the release as a chance to try out some different interaction modes, and will continue this theme in future releases. With the limited controls of the standard cardboard, and the typical use case of standing in a crowded room, how best to do you move through a space or look "around" a model. For RosettaVR the main interaction is rotation control, you can set the featured object spinning around the X or Y axis at different speeds, and quickly stop and start it so as to get to a particular point. Then you can zoom in or out. All of this by just looking at the controls, and with the option of single button click confirmation. There is also an additional "drag" mode, so than by holding the button down you can "drag" the comet around a bit to optimise the view.


RosettaVR is currently available only on Android, but if there's the interest we'll do an iOS version (which also works with Cardboard) too - let us know. As mentioned we're also planning a "Pro" version with higher rez models. As well as helping to communicate about the wonders of the solar system and of space exploration the aim is also to use it as a demo to show people what can be done with VR, and to experiment with the different interaction modes. 

And of course whilst this app is all about Rosetta, there are no limitations as to what the objects you are viewing can be in an application like this. They could be products, show homes, cars, machinery animations, process animations, historical artifacts - almost anything. The immediacy and accessibility of the Cardboard also make it ideally suited to customer engagement at trade shows or in retail centres, and as something extra for your salesforce to have with them all the time. So if you have objects or places that you would like to put virtually into the hands of your customers just give us a call on 0121 250 5678, or drop us a line at info@daden.co.uk.

Download RosettaVR onto your Android phone today. (You will need a Google Cardboard to get the full experience).

22 September 2015

Daden wins Phase 2 Funding for Virtual Field Trips

We're delighted to announce that we have been successful in gaining Phase 2 development funding for our “Virtual Field Trips as a Service” initiative from Innovate UK, the UK's Innovation Agency, in Phase 2 of the Design for Impact Competition.

Launched in May 2014, Design for Impact aimed to identify and then support innovative technology that had been proven in pilot projects in education but had yet to have a national impact. Working with The Open University (OU) and Birmingham based Design Thinkers UK we submitted a proposal for Virtual Field Trips as a Service, taking the concepts developed as part of the Virtual Skiddaw project that developed for the OU in 2013, and looking at how this could be scaled up to a national service for schools and universities.

We were one of 15 projects (out of around 200) selected in September 2014 for Phase 1 funding. From Nov 14 to Apr 15 we worked with teachers and students at Washwood Heath Academy in Birmingham, virtual world educators in Second Life, university lecturers at a Royal Geological Society workshop and a range of other stakeholders to understand the potential, challenges and key features of any virtual field trip service.

Innovate UK has now announced that ours is one of the projects selected to receive Phase 2 "development" funding. For Phase 2 we will be working with our existing partners, the Open University and Design Thinkers UK, and we're delighted to be joined by new partner the Field Studies Council. Phase 2 will see the development of a prototype system, and a full trial and assessment with both universities and schools, the latter facilitated by working closely with one of the Field Studies Council’s own field study centres.


We are really proud to be one of the project chosen for Stage 2 Funding. There was some stiff competition and we were up against some other very innovative and exciting ideas. This project gives us the opportunity to develop an immersive 3D environment that is optimised for educational use, yet flexible enough to let educators create and customise content. Almost everyone we’ve spoken to has not only seen how virtual field trips can be a natural complement for physical field trips, but also how the technology could be used to provide a wide range of virtual experiences in support of other subjects from history to languages.

The service is intended to support, not replace, physical field trips. It will help students and staff prepare better for a field trip, can provide additional context during the field trip, and gives a focus for post-field trip data analysis, revision, virtual visits to comparative sites, and provides a catch-up for those who may have missed the physical trip.


At the end of the 12 month project we should be in a position to start taking the service to market. Whilst the project is focussed on UK education there are also obvious opportunities overseas – particularly letting students have virtual “exchange” field trips. As well as looking at desktop and mobile delivery the project will also be looking at using the latest generation of virtual reality headsets such as Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard.

You can read a bit more about the project on the project page, but we will be revamping that shortly for Phase 2, and we're also looking at producing a separate micro-site or social media site to support the project. More news in due course.

3 September 2015

All about Google Cardboard

We've just added a short introduction to the Google Cardboard VR "headset", and some ideas about how you could use Google Cardboard and its VR experience in your organisation. Visit our Google Cardboard page now.

1 September 2015

VR and AI at the Edinburgh Fringe

Whilst up at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last week two shows caught my eye from a Daden perspective, I caught one and my daughter caught the other. 

ABACUS (Sundance Version) Trailer from Lars Jan on Vimeo.

ABACUS was a "presentation" by "Japanese cult-icon Paul Abacus" in the style of a visuals rich TED talk, filmed live by two steadicam operators. The visuals were very "Datascape" at times, 3D graphics over the Earth's surface", and some of the graphs were even based on Second Life stats! But as it the style of so many of these things what starts out straight soon begins to slowly collapse as the "presenter" goes off-piste, rages against the world, and goes ever so slightly mad. Apparently "Paul Abacus" is the fictional creation of Los Angeles-based director Lars Jan, and the show (and unveiling) caused quite a storm at the Sundance festival. It was OK, but one can't help feeling it needed to be either more real and straight, or far more off the wall.

The second show was Spillikin, which featured the Robothespian robot as a robot/AI created by a dying husband to keep his wife, who as Alzheimer's, company. As the show notes say "... the husband, already an obsessive archivist, builds a perfected robotic version of himself, to be deployed after his death: a patient carer, an aide-memoir, a singing partner, able to give order to her confusion, and to bear without complaint the endless repetition required to reassure her." We've seen a number of academic projects using chatbots to support Alzheimer's sufferers in just this way, and we're currently working on a Digital Immortality paper which also looks at some of the issues about achieving agency after death.