RSS Discovery ship

A company that created an interactive hologram of Shackleton’s ship is ready to show the world what mixed reality can do

A company that has created interactive holographic models of some of Britain’s most famous structures will use Microsoft technology to help businesses enjoy the benefits of mixed reality.

Luminous replicates buildings and vehicles in mixed reality so firms can use headsets such as Microsoft HoloLens to train staff in fire safety, for example, or help the public learn more about the location they are visiting.

It has recreated RRS Discovery, the last traditional wooden three-masted ship to be built in Britain, which carried Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton on their first, successful journey to the Antarctic in 1901. Visitors to the ship, in Dundee, can virtually explore the area and enter Shackleton and Scott’s personal quarters.

Luminous has also constructed mixed-reality experiences of the O2 Arena, in London, and a virtual reality rendering of Tintern Abbey, the best-preserved medieval abbey in Wales.

The UK company has been so successful that it has been named a Microsoft Mixed Reality Partner. Its staff will now use their skills in development and 3D art design to help other businesses adopt and use mixed-reality technology such as HoloLens.

“Mixed reality has enormous growth potential in a wide range of commercial environments,” said Ben Bennett, managing director and founder of Luminous. “We’re really excited to be at the forefront of it and working in partnership with Microsoft gives us the edge in helping realise that potential.

“The Microsoft partnership programme is the greatest validation that we’re pushing our business in the right direction, and in partnership with Microsoft we can start to push even more boundaries of possibility.”

Virtual, augmented and mixed reality is becoming increasingly important to companies across the globe. According to market intelligence firm IDC, “total spending on AR/VR products and services is expected to soar from $11.4 billion in 2017 to nearly $215 billion 2021”.

Microsoft’s Mixed Reality Partner programme has so far helped police forces across the UK to improve their operations, as well as train manufacturer Alstom, truck maker Paccar, home improvement business Lowe’s and engineering firm CDM Smith.

Luminous, which has offices in Newcastle, London and Seattle, will now add others to that list.

Leila Martine, Product Director of Commercial Mixed Reality at Microsoft, said: “We are delighted to have Luminous accredited as a Mixed Reality Partner. We are impressed with the company’s vision for its RIVO platform, which we believe has groundbreaking and disruptive potential by providing mixed-reality asset mapping tools across a variety of industries.”

Rather than put users in a fully computer-generated world, as virtual reality does, HoloLens allows users to place 3D digital models in the room alongside them. As the Windows-10-based product does not have wires or external cameras, or require a phone or PC connection, users can walk around the objects they create and interact with them using gestures, gaze and voice.

Last month, Microsoft unveiled Dynamics 365 Layout and Dynamics 365 Remote Assist, which allows workers to collaborate via HoloLens.