The industrial revolution came to the Swindon area in 1841 when the Great Western Railway company decided to build its locomotive maintenance shed on the green fields below the market town at the top of the hill. 175 years on, Swindon specialist computer graphics company Rendermedia is at the cutting edge of the electronic revolution by exploring the possibilities of virtual reality – and capturing major business across Europe.
On a flat screen entertainment is displayed in two dimensions. Some people will have donned special spectacles which provides the depth of 3D. With virtual reality, users wear a special headset which provides an immersive 360 degree experience.
VR has had a lot of attention in the entertainment and games industry, but at the Farnborough Airshow in mid-July Rendermedia broke new ground with Airbus Defence & Space to win new customers.
Visitors to the Airbus stand strapped on a VR headset to find out what it would be like to soar 90,000 feet above the earth, or sit in the cockpit of an aircraft thundering a few hundred feet above the Brecon Beacons, as well as to land an A350.
In another computer simulated reality, users take part in a helicopter rescue mission in a disaster zone, using hand controls to carry out specific actions such as opening the door once the helicopter has landed, picking up boxes of supplies and passing them out to an aid worker.
Rendermedia was started in 2004 by North Swindon resident Mark Miles. The business has grown from his back bedroom to a large studio at Groundwell Business Park and further expansion is on the cards. Mark said: “We’re breaking new ground by applying the VR technology on a ‘business to business’ level by offering a realistic way of overcoming the very real challenge of how manufacturers demonstrate products to potential customers”
Rendermedia provides its services to businesses such as Adobe, Hewlett Packard, Siemens and NEC Europe, and more recently has forged a niche for bringing products to life across the service sector and manufacturing in aerospace and technology.
Working with Airbus opens up exciting opportunities said Mark. “There are estimates that the global VR sector will be worth around £30 billion a year by 2020, and we are determined to be a major player.
“There are few more competitive business environments than aerospace and the rewards for those who win the contracts are immense.
“At Farnborough we saw many businesses vying to stand out and make an impression using film and 3D graphics, but what we offer is the ability to involve the user within the product, so that they come away feeling they were actually there discovering the products’ capabilities in absolute context. It has a longer lasting impact than watching a film on a TV screen.”
Mark believes the VR will be seen far more in everyday life. “The Airbus contract is the tip of the iceberg: we can allow prospective buyers to experience any product of any size and in any context, from a driverless car to a luxury liner.
“Imagine going into a high street travel agent, putting on a VR headset and immersing yourself in a hotel or a tourist attraction to help you decide on your next holiday?
“This is the shape of the future for how we can deliver content across so many areas from marketing to education that really engages the user.”
See the showreel and find out more at www.rendermedia.co.uk
Pictured top, Mark and Nadine Miles of Rendermedia in North Swindon. Below, a cockpit shot seen by the wearer of the VR headset