CreaTech is an exciting new sector in Wales. Across our nation there exists a cohort of creatives changing the way people connect, engage and experience life using innovative, immersive technologies.
To explore some of the most exciting developments in the sector, we’ve rounded up five cutting-edge projects at the forefront of Wales’ CreaTech industry – from games to help children learn their ABCs to realistic medical simulations.
A business with all-round vision
M7Virtual have established themselves as Wales’ go-to experts in moving 360 VR video. Based in Flintshire, the company produces immersive content for advertising campaigns, audience engagement and virtual reality experiences.
When filming, M7Virtual uses customised camera rigs that are synchronised together, producing full 360-degree panoramas that viewers can freely explore. Some complex shots require the use of drones, remote-controlled cars or cable-rigged systems – all of which the business can provide in-house.
Cutting-edge technology is only part of the story. The team can draw on experience in a wide range of fields including 3D CGI, gaming, cinematography and post-production. M7Virtual received funding from the Digital Development Fund, which supports the most promising new tech products and services.
AR makes learning as easy as ABC
Hands up who's familiar with Dr Seuss' best-selling alphabet book? Now, thanks to an app developed by Cardiff-based Sugar Creative, children can truly bring his characters to life.
Dr Seuss’s ABC – An Amazing AR Alphabet! uses augmented reality to make Aunt Allie’s Alligator, Little Lola Lopp, Zizzer-Zazzer-Zuzz and their friends leap off the page – literally. Every character from the original book has been painstakingly animated in 3D, appearing on screen in the child’s own surroundings.
As they play and interact, children learn their ABC in an engaging and sometimes unexpected way. Young creatives can even design their own adventures in Dr Seuss’s magical universe.
Developed with input from educational psychologists, and supported by the Digital Development Fund, the app was launched in March 2020 to coincide with Dr Seuss’s birthday. Sugar Creative have also benefited from taking part in international trade missions led by the Welsh Government.
Space game show achieves lift-off
Space Scavengers is a new TV game show for young people, drawing on the latest virtual reality technologies in both Welsh and English. The format is the brainchild of Galactig, a bilingual digital agency that’s part of Rondo Media in Caernarfon. With funding secured from S4C and Clwstwr, supported by Creative Wales, development of the show is well under way.
It’s the latest project from a company with a history of using augmented reality in innovative ways. Galactig previously created Tro, an app that allowed walkers to discover the Welsh language heritage of their surroundings. And – returning to an interstellar theme – it also developed the retro-styled VR space game Neon for the Oculus Rift headset.
From fantasy to reality
Good Gate Media has been turning heads with its trailer and playable demo for Deathtrap Dungeon: The Golden Room. It’s the first interactive movie to be based on the multi-million selling Fighting Fantasy books, in which readers can choose their own adventure.
By mixing sophisticated visual effects (VFX) and real-time computer rendering, the Cardiff-based games developers created a stunning imaginative realm of brave adventurers and bloodthirsty monsters. The full game, to be published in association with Wales Interactive on the PC, Mac, Xbox and other platforms, will be released this year.
The company accessed support from Clwstwr and Creative Wales at different points in the project to develop the technology for the game. By building its surroundings within a computer rather than using a physical set, Good Gate Media can significantly lower the production costs involved in interactive films.
Helping medical training get better
Medical training is an area where immersive technology can really come into its own. Cardiff tech company Goggleminds use virtual reality simulations to help healthcare professionals and students update their skills and learn new ones.
The company takes an evidence-based approach, using the latest research to design training content for medicine, nursing, dentistry, surgery and other healthcare sectors. Its simulations can closely recreate real-life scenarios, so learners can practise their skills and procedures in a virtual environment that’s both realistic and safe, with no risk to patients.
Goggleminds aims to make learning fun with its virtual games and interactions, helping to increase engagement and long-term knowledge retention. And using multi-player simulations, it can help organisations share skills and expertise across different departments and locations.
Funding from Clwstwr helped the company develop its training solutions, which have found favour throughout the NHS and with other healthcare providers.