Like many who’ve endured the corporate rollercoaster ride, the shock of unemployment launched Mark Magnuson, president of Anode, into entrepreneurism. In the process – almost by accident – Anode was born; and we’re still going strong after 25 years in business.
Have you seen the new Samsung VR ad? It’s a beautiful composition in a trendy, exposed-brick loft where a videographer captures individuals (and a few couples) experiencing VR for presumably the first time. The video is filled with perfectly-timed cuts between wide shots and close-ups. Authentic reactions and emotions jump off the screen to convey the power of the unseen VR content that is being presented on Samsung’s hardware offering.
The video is by all accounts a perfect ad spot. Unfortunately, it is also underscores a fundamental flaw in the VR experience.
When we engineer an experience that blends both physical and digital elements, it is crucial that our team understands the scale, limitations, and properties of the materials, hardware, and software that we are using. Without this understanding, you can waste time and resources producing an experience that doesn’t match your original vision.
This lesson is one that I learned all too well several years ago from a humble wooden floor lamp.
Grab a piece of fresh, white printer paper and let’s make this work day a little more interesting. Go to Google and look for a robot arm (or if you’re like one of our project managers, Thomas, just grab your favorite action figure out of the 42 sitting on your desk). Draw a quick sketch of what you see.
Done? Good. Now, without looking too silly, move around the room and draw every angle of that arm that you can see. Oh, and while you’re at it…think about how that arm will look at any given time of day. Pretty tough assignment, isn’t it? Welcome to 3D modeling for VR.
The car is packed, the passengers are loaded, and the snack rations have been properly distributed. The sky is clear and the road is calling. Now, it’s time to make the most important decision of the road trip: Which GPS app should we use to arrive at our destination?
The year was 1991. Anthony Hopkins created a new wine pairing with liver and fava beans. Paul Reubens was caught being inappropriate. The cool kids were listening to Nirvana. Tim Berners-Lee came up with something about “links.” And, the first mass-produced, networked, VR entertainment system, Virtuality, debuted. Oh and in slightly lesser known news, a small digital design studio was born on a front porch during an October afternoon.
Of all the stories and topics we work with at Anode, music history and interpretation has a special place in our hearts. Perhaps it is our long history of working with music museums, perhaps it is our upbringing in Music City, or perhaps it is the number of Anodians who have some sort of musical talent. Whatever the cause, the end result is that we are obsessed with producing the perfect audio track for every music-based project we take on.
The first step to fixing a problem is knowing it exists. When developing interactive applications for our clients, we spend a lot of time testing each project’s software and hardware to ensure that it will perform as designed once it moves out of our safe, secure Development Lab and into “the wild” (aka: the customer’s location).
The touchscreen is the user’s window into your application, exhibit, or interactive experience. If the display quality, color balance, backlight uniformity, or touch responsiveness is less than perfect, the user will notice immediately. When nearly everyone has a high-performance multi-touch screen device in their pocket, they expect the same or better performance from any large touchscreen they encounter in a museum, library, or corporate environment.
Through our interactive design work, we always look for ways to teach individuals—especially children—new ways to engage with the world around them. We use stories, visual information design, and on-screen activities to guide younger generations to learn from history, discover how things work, or realize the value of teamwork and collaboration.
Whether in the digital or physical world, one of the best ways to foster learning is through hands-on play. Therefore, Anode has been a proud sponsor of the players, coaches, and parents of the East Nashville Little League since 2013.