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UNIVRSE: Re-envisioning the future of the exhibition sector with breath-taking Virtual Reality installations

Location Based Entertainment | Entertainment | Case Study

5 minutes read

When creators, designers and developers come together it is amazing what becomes possible. This has been true of the masterminds at the heart of Univrse. With a deep passion for reinventing the old and at times tired exhibition experience, the team behind exhibitions about Dalí and Pompeii have forged a new way of interacting with exhibitions. Bringing together the best of culture, video games, and storytelling, participants can experience something truly breathtaking with the help of Virtual Reality (VR).

This group of like-minded individuals began with the goal of democratising multi-user VR and have ended up developing a solution that is set to become a standard for high-traffic venues like museums, cultural institutions, events and business showrooms. This is evidenced through their already successful cultural experiences (Dalí, Pompeii, Sorolla), entertainment experiences (FC Barcelona, FC Sevilla, Tomorrowland) and branded experiences (CUPRA Metahype).

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This has all been made possible through the development of their Univrse Experience Manager (EUM) which allows users to easily control any kind of location based experience for hundreds of simultaneous participants. This setup has been battle tested by thousands of users in high traffic venues all over the world.

Utilising VR for exhibitions was a high-level goal for Univrse. To make it a reality it was necessary to break their mission down into something more specific. This led to the development of a number of objectives including freedom of movement, intuitive interactions without learning curves, and high quality content. It was also important that these user experiences were simple to manage and maintain. Creating something that was so complex it could only be carried out by technical personnel would have made it impossible to replicate across multiple venues.

All of this was made possible through the products and technical expertise of HTC VIVE. Frédéric Sanz, COO and co-founder says “our best reward is to see that multi-user VR experiences based on our solution with HTC VIVE can be enjoyed by hundreds of visitors per day while being super easy to manage. Having achieved an average of 2,500 participants per day in some locations proves that VR is compatible with the needs of high-traffic venues in terms of flow.”

Dalí London Exhibit

Everything that is praiseworthy about Univrse was on display at the Dalí Exhibit in London. As the first collective metaverse London-based show ever there was a lot riding on it. The installation enabled participants to discover afresh the Spanish genius, Salvador Dalí, and his surrealist masterpieces through digital displays, sound effects, projection mapping, and more.

For the first time it was truly possible to step into Dalí’s world and interact with the virtual content. Participants said they felt transported into Dalí’s world and that you have to see it to believe it.

Oftentimes VR experiences are isolated events but this exhibit enabled people to interact with one another. Gestures could be made and friends and family could tell others about what they were seeing. It was even possible to see your hands in the headset view which users said was great for interacting with the art as well as with others.

Univrse have created this type of experience time and again. Their Sorolla project left the Kings of Spain with the feeling of having their mind blown and reacting to the exhibit with the wonder of little children. In their Pompeii experience a flow of 60 simultaneous users were able to walk through the streets of this legendary city. “In general, observing the reaction of participants when they take off their headsets is priceless,” explains Sanz. “It’s like they’re coming back from another planet. Their facial expressions are a mix of awe, surprise, incredulity, joy.”



Managing huge numbers of visitors

One of Univrse’s greatest achievements is finding a way to manage such significant numbers of visitors at each venue. They’re obviously doing something right with one of their venues managing to facilitate over 2,500 people per day.

Their partnership with HTC VIVE has made such an achievement possible. The accuracy and reliability of HTC VIVE ’s tracking system has been key to making it happen. VIVE’s fast tracking system has enabled venue staff to save seconds when onboarding each and every visitor. When attending thousands of people per day, those seconds become a lot of minutes that allow them to attend more visitors and sell more tickets.

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Free movement of people

Another key part of Univrse’s unique solution is enabling participants to freely move within a space. This has been achieved in a wide range of different types of space, some of which have been up to 500m² or more. Through their UEM they’ve developed the capability of absorbing a flow of thousands of people per day.

The VIVE Focus 3 has proven to be instrumental in overcoming the challenges associated with heavy and cumbersome backpacks used in VR experiences. Its capability to receive streamed content from a centralised PC has entirely eliminated the need for participants to wear PC backpacks. These backpacks are not only heavy and cumbersome but also expensive, making it difficult to promote a true sense of free movement.

With its distinctive features, the powerful VIVE Location-Based Software Suite (LBSS) for VIVE Focus 3 ensures an optimal user experience. The first is its advanced map sharing feature that is delivered to each headset via WiFi and the second is the precise tracking system. Both of these in tandem give participants the confidence to move around the space freely without having to worry about collisions. Since its release in 2022, Univrse has fully embraced its benefits and integrated it into all of its solutions.

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Deployment

A vital element of Univrse’s business model is that it must be universally deployable. It therefore needs to work within any space and with any set of venue staff members, no matter how technically minded they are.

Univrse, with HTC VIVE hardware and software, have developed a system that can be deployed and operated with ease of mind, something that they’ve tried and tested on numerous international venues with hundreds of headsets.

“By integrating this device in our platform we made it possible for hundreds of participants to attend exhibits and enjoy breathtaking content every single day.” Sanz goes on, “we also gained piece of mind in terms of accuracy and reliability”

It is here that HTC VIVE’s tracking system comes into its own again, enabling tracking across physical spaces up to 1000m². This feature is priceless taking into consideration that one of the characteristics of multi-user VR that blows people's mind the most is walking freely into big virtual spaces.

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A great working partnership

As Univrse’s vision has grown and developed, so has HTC VIVE’s hardware. This VR manufacturer has proven to be more than capable of designing and delivering the kit that enables companies like Univrse to create what they want.

By partnering with HTC VIVE they have benefitted from an enterprise grade device, an accurate and reliable inside-out tracking system, up to 1,000m² tracking area, easy management of multiple devices, technical support, and battle proven hardware. That is quite the list but it just goes to show how important it is for those delivering VR experiences to have a partner that can match them for vision and drive.

The future for Univrse

Having now created dozens of these projects, Univrse has a wealth of experience in the VR industry. Many companies would want to keep this knowledge to themselves but not Univrse. Instead, they are keen to share what they’ve learnt as well as their tools with the content creators community. Alongside this, Univrse will soon release Univrse SDK - a tool that has been conceived to boost the work of content creators when it comes to developing multi-user VR experiences.

"We are learning how to create the future of the exhibition experience where AI powered real-time generated content will entertain and educate the visitors.”says David Bardos, CEO at Univrse, who is excited about the future.

For additional information about our solutions and how they can benefit your specific challenges, please don't hesitate to contact us.

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