Creating iMPACT! at Inmarsat
Dan Alldis knew he needed to take a radically different approach to customer engagement at Inmarsat. He envisioned an immersive meeting environment like no other he’d seen, and then he built it with Mezzanine. Mary Ann de Lares Norris met with Dan at ISE in Amsterdam to get the story.
Dan Alldis thought he’d have to do a lot of development work to create the immersive experience of the iMPACT! Room at Inmarsat’s London headquarters. For this new center of customer engagement, he’d set aside a “big chunk of money” to do the AV+IT development work himself, expecting it would be months of designing specs, organizing components, and writing code. He’d spread the word about the project to MBA-IT, an established technology solutions and service provider. They soon recommended Mezzanine to help with the task of linking all the pixels in the room.
Dan scheduled a demo of Mezzanine at the London Shoreditch office, and was initially skeptical. He’d heard product hype before, and he didn’t think anything in the market was going to do what he needed, which was to unite the multiple surfaces in the room for high impact, enable multiple streams of content of several sources and types, and yet provide the flexibility required by the pitch process to allow for changes in story flow on the fly.
Within 10 minutes of seeing Mezzanine for the first time, he knew he’d found the solution. Mezzanine is at its core a spatial computing application that makes multiple physical surfaces in a three-dimensional space (or linked spaces) easily addressable. For Inmarsat, tiled screens on multiple wall surfaces and a projection table top were unified as a multi-dimensional digital canvas for the most interactive and immersive storytelling environment. With Mezzanine, stories may be told in a more interactive and more fluid, non-linear way.
A picture paints a thousand words. A moving picture probably paints a million. And one that you can interact with? A billion. – Dan Alldis
Business unit leaders at Inmarsat are already finding benefit in this impressive new meeting room environment. Jose Pereira, Impact Developer at Inmarsat remarks, “We are excited by the benefits that iMPACT! is bringing to Inmarsat and there is already demand within the business from colleagues wanting to use the room and who see iMPACT! as a means of differentiation from our competitors, adding real value. Powered by Oblong’s Mezzanine, we’ve designed a flexible and scalable collaboration space that will support our requirements well into the future.”
Working with Watson
The goal of each Watson Experience Center—located in New York, San Francisco, and Cambridge—is to demystify AI and challenge visitor’s expectations through more tangible demonstrations of Watson technology. Visitors are guided through a series of narratives and data interfaces, each grounded in IBM’s current capabilities in machine learning and AI. These sit alongside a host of Mezzanine rooms where participants further collaborate to build solutions together.
The process for creating each experience begins with dynamic, collaborative research. Subject matter experts take members of the design and engineering teams through real-world scenarios—disaster response, financial crimes investigation, oil and gas management, product research, world news analysis—where we identify and test applicable data sets. From there, we move our ideas quickly to scale.
Accessibility to the immersive pixel canvas for everyone involved is key to the process. Designers must be able to see their ideas outside of the confines of 15″ laptops and prescriptive software. Utilizing tools tuned for rapid iteration at scale, our capable team of designers, data artists, and engineers work side-by-side to envision and define each experience. The result is more than a polished marketing narrative; it's an active interface that allows the exploration of data with accurate demonstrations of Watson’s capabilities—one that customers can see themselves in.
Under the Hood
Underlying the digital canvas is a robust spatial operating environment, g‑speak, which allows our team to position real data in a true spatial context. Every data point within the system, and even the UI itself, is defined in real world coordinates (measured in millimeters, not pixels). Gestures, directional pointing, and proximity to screens help us create interfaces that more closely understand user intent and more effectively humanize the UI.
This award-nominated collaboration with IBM is prototyped and developed at scale at Oblong’s headquarters in Los Angeles as well as IBM’s Immersive AI Lab in Austin. While these spaces are typically invite-only, IBM is increasingly open to sharing the content and the unique design ideas that drive its success with the public. This November, during Austin Design Week, IBM will host a tour of their Watson Immersive AI Lab, including live demonstrations of the work and a Q&A session with leaders from the creative team.
Can't make it to Austin? Contact our Solutions team for a glimpse of our vision of the future at our headquarters in the Arts District in Los Angeles.