Innovation Lab

Our Innovation Lab is a melting pot of industry, digital and technological experts; bringing you the latest in creative content methods, inventive technological solutions and business strategy insights. The team are continually workshopping new ideas that push boundaries and challenge the status quo.

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We put digital at the core

Storytelling is at the heart of what we do. We are pushing the boundaries of traditional brand experiences to create ever more immersive and interactive ways to engage with audiences. Cutting edge hardware and software are the tools we use to push these boundaries.

Our process

Get the picture

We work collaboratively with clients, and rapidly iterate ideas using a design thinking approach.

Build IT fast

We have an in-house team of developers with a deep skillset who work in agile teams to prototype, test and deploy.

Make IT stick

We are an integrated agency, and so take a campaign approach to brand experience. Our wider team collaborate seamlessly to deliver global programmes of any scale.

What we've been up to

Jul 09, 2020

Game Engines for the Future

Like to demo a game engine environment for real? Contact us here for your VIP invite to our next Game Engine demonstration.

The Game Engine. Yes, it is as cool as is sounds. The software development environment, originally designed so people can build video games, has now entered a whole new era. Game Engines such as the well-known UnReal and Unity now come with a vast array of functions; from a rendering engine, 3D graphics, physics engines, AI, animation, streaming, networking and cinematics … You name it, the game engine can provide developers with everything they need to build a convincing online world.

So why is that important?

Game Engines were the province of beautifully tailored, mass market video games where the content was available to the end user via console and was limited by the game play. Within that lay the inherent challenge, how to get such high-quality content to more end users without these limitations?

The Hybrid events and digital product sales that are developing out of recent lockdown are offering the B2B solution. As consumers build on their recent, somewhat impromptu, education in utilizing online interaction software, virtual gamified experiences are no longer the property of digitally proficient but becoming the new medium by which we will all communicate.

Why is this?

  • Opportunity. Game Engines are allowing brands to present products in a way that is impossible in the real world, especially when the experience is paired with VR and AR.
  • Sustainability. With very little raw materials and the only input being creativity and imagination, game engines create 3D environments that can be constantly reimagined. No build and burn here.
  • The Great Leveler. Social-economic considerations have never been more important, especially in the B2C world. In game engine -built environments, all avatars are equal and their ability to explore and interact unchallenged.  
  • Customisation. Game engines can change anything. I mean, anything. Be it a person, a world or an object. The technology has advanced to the point where it’s possible to change worlds around the user. Features can be designed in ‘moveable mode’ automatically via UI and re-rendered in real time
  • Curatorship – Game Engines allows you to design the experience for seamless movement and truly interactive offerings that appear fully tailored for the user and aren’t held up by queues, blocked views and space limitations.
  • Scalability – Imagine thousands of people all stood in the same place experiencing something that is impossible for us in current times … like all of us stood at Cape Kennedy watching the Space X rocket take off …
  • Connection - This is the medium that appeals to the younger demographic, a language that they speak which we all must learn to connect with up and coming audiences
  • Hybrid Adaptation – Maximizing space and social distancing will be major factors for an events when designing a safe experiential journey. It’s probable game engines will power hybrid events where physical spaces are set up for digital product immersion
  • Cost – Unreal Engine is free and Unity is also free to companies up to £1m in revenue, so the cost really depends on objective. It can be simple and targeted as a deconstructed 360 trainer for a product launch, or as wide ranging as your imagination allows

Considerations.

Game Engines are highly specialised and like all things, not all 3D environments are built equal. Here are some key considerations:

  • How to make your 3D environment immersive? - Get Creative; like all art, you need an artist with an eye for depth, colour and tone, and the imagination to go beyond replication.
  • What is the brand narrative? - B2C audiences know their stuff, so it’s not just about throwing up some 3D booths, you need to curate the experience and subvert expectation with a narrative that twists and turns, breaking ‘virtual walls’ as spaces reveal themselves through a tour that requires you to interact/play the game.
  • Where and how to host? This is surprisingly important. Many event platforms do not support game engines, and if they do, they don’t consider the ancillary resources needed to host a smooth, continuous experience
  • Did I need real-time rendering? - This is a tech we will be exploring in more detail next month
  • Which engine? Be wary … game engines are being created left, right and centre and though there is big money being poured into the process, as with all tech innovations, only a handful with last the pace. Speak to your creative agency about their game engine experience
  • Consider Connectivity What if the internet is not that great? We believe 5G and game engine powered brand immersion will also form the argument for continuing with event spaces. Brands are not likely to be able to ensure connectivity in all their end user’s homes, so they need for physical spaces will remain. We are investing in half-hosting solutions; developing end-user ability to half-host data and information locally so there is a mixture of local and remote rendering.

The creative and the user journey will always be the main challenge. As with all events, execution is everything. The environment doesn’t have to be over the top. In our opinion, clever is best.

Where next?

There are currently two main approaches to Game engine development in the events world and in our opinion, neither are completely correct usages. The first is to replace a real ‘world’ entirely, for example a virtual experience show where the 3D model of the event space/booth is faithfully created. The problem is so much energy is expelled in realism, these models are cumbersome to control and a bit boring.

The second is where the game engine focuses on features and creates over-complication by bombarding the user with info on certain (what the developer thinks) key features. Yawn.

For our clients, it’s all about presentation; the ingenious ways we can show those features and encourage interaction. Don’t put realism before the journey. Don’t get hung up on segues. Remember UI rules – 3 clicks or less. Get into the action and remember the famous adage, ‘start your story half-way through at the bit where it gets interesting.’

Want to know more. We are offering a limited number of VIP invites to our clients for our next game engine demo. Click here to sign up.

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Jul 01, 2020

Need secure content? Just Be "Sassy!"

The topic of content security has long been at the front of our client’s mind as we all know … if a company doesn't get their security management right … a lot can be at risk.

In the past few years, 2Heads have evolve our due diligence process to make sure we deliver the most secure experiences for our clients, whether this be at a physical or digital event. Part of this evolution has been fuelled by having clients in the security industry itself; a sector that has changed hugely these last few years as the cybersecurity landscape advances.

Until recently, most security was based around a network, with several pieces of technology available to keep each network secure. The main challenge with efficiently using this model arose when people started to use different devices to access that content and data from different locations. Everyone who has worked in events knows this as fact. We all have faced the torturous endeavour of logging into a VPN connection whilst trying to find a quiet workplace within a crowded Expo. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying this can be a very clunky way of working.

Leaders in the security industry then went on to use experts such as Gartner and Forrester Research to forge a new path. Developing technologies that move away from the "Moat and Castle Security Model," - home of the dreaded VPN – and are born in the Cloud, for the Cloud and focus on the user, rather than the tech itself. Music to the ears of all experiential, events, digital and marketing experts.

Gartner has defined this type of cloud-based multifunction service as SASE; pronounced "sassy". It stands for Secure Access Service Edge, and it is this model which is the future of keeping your content and marketing efforts secure, no matter where they are accessed from: an event, online, a phone, a festival, a plane, coffee house, restaurant … By calling for security to be enforced close to the users, SASE delivers a significantly superior experience to the older models that brought the user to the security.

The movement to a unified digital world is speeding up and there is an industry need to avoid securing marketing, event content and data in silos and focus on the coming revolution where we make our users secure first. The great news is that SASE vendors are finally here, and we are already partnering with this technology.  The licence as a service model also comes with all the added benefits we appreciate here at 2Heads:

  • It’s easy to use
  • Fast to implement
  • Non-disruptive
  • Very economical
  • Highly secure. 

We call it the ‘relax’ factor where everyone from client to end user can benefit from the intuitive security model.

In the last 12 months, we've seen how our clients are evolving to run more applications in the cloud as SaaS rather than on-premise and whilst more of our data lives in cloud centres,  more of the workforce (especially professionals in marketing and events) are increasingly mobile. We are working off-site with mobility as the norm and using our phones, tablets and desktops remotely in a routine manner. Building a SASE structure around your events programme not only allows you to keep up with competitor brands, it will allow that mobility to continue securely, allowing you to plan for hybrid events and any returns to WFH situations.

The ultimate goal for us as your experiential and digital agency is to make it possible for our clients to network on any kind of resource, location or user without leaving the business vulnerable, and still provide a meaningful omnichannel brand experience.

Looking Ahead.

The move to building access models around identity - the user - does require efforts to move away from old access models based on IP addresses, but we feel the ends justify the means. As marketing and event professionals become part of their organisation’s digital transformation, we recommend you liaise with your agency and get advice on how to have a chat with your IT department. We are always happy to take 5 minutes so we can help you position this internally … after all, us events and marketing profs are not a silo, we too are a crucial part of the secure digital transformation. It’s something us 2Headers are passionate about and we are here to help you do it … even if it is with a bit of sass!

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Jun 04, 2020

EventHive Powers Grass Valley's First Fully Online Event

With NAB ‘20 cancelled in April, our client Grass Valley wanted a fully online solution to allow them to create their GV Live ‘Innovate 2020’ conference and continue business as usual with a schedule of presentations and meetings held in the digital space. With ten years of development, Grass Valley considered our proprietary software EventHive a prudent choice as our digital team evolved all the same functionality to an online adaptation. For Grass Valley, it wasn’t about redesigning the wheel, but utilising a event tech that offered security, continuity and a proven user experience.

Grass Valley needed to pivot the conference program quickly following the cancelation of key event NAB in Las Vegas; an important date for Grass Valleys sales team. With a need to still hold meaningful conversations, GV turned to long term partner 2Heads for a Grass Valley Live solution held entirely online.

EventHive provided the efficient framework for Grass Valley Live to run the online conference across fourteen global regions with infrastructure engineered to navigate the varying time zones of the different delegates.

As a platform that has undergone ten years of development reacting to the demands of meeting management in an evolving industry, EventHive was able to react to the challenge quickly and efficiently, providing a prompt booking system that the GV event organisers could send out to get delegates engaged and ready for the live streaming broadcast as if it was running in physical terms.

Slick presentation, an easy interface and a seamless user experience was key to the delegates journey in what is becoming an increasingly monotonous online work world. As a result, Grass Valley saw an excellent turn out for their first fully online Conference ‘Innovate 2020’ and were able to launch their new cloud-based software as a service (Saas) Agile Media Processing Platform (GV AMPP) on schedule and to the same targeted audience as they would have at NAB.  

With a total of 138 meetings booked among 173 delegates across a variety of resourced areas, the Innovate 2020 conference was proof that business could still continue and products could still enjoy successful launches in lockdown. With EventHive at the helm, Grass Valley were able to bring together delegates from eight different divisions and fourteen regions from APAC, to EMEA to LATAM etc. One of the more popular features; the real time communication system showed the power of networking is still strong, even online, and remains an important feature of any digital event solution with EventHive tracking over a thousand conversations.

GV Live Innovate 2020 is another project in a very busy year for EventHive which, as a fully digital solution, has transitioned from physical events to online events, and is preparing for a 2021 of hybrid opportunities, merging the requirements of both into one software platform.

Early 2020 saw the effective use of EventHive to run Scientific Games presence at ICE 2020, the world’s largest gaming market, with a focus on user journey and ensuring delegates were channeled to the right SG specialist. The client testimonial below highlights how UI in the software development is crucial and why a history of development in response to client feedback is very important.

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Things we do well

Behind the scenes

Our team are constantly prototyping and innovating. Here is a sneak peek at some of the technology that's passed through our R&D workshop recently.
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