DURHAM – Imagine using 3D to view a steel bridge in Amsterdam and virtually walking across it from thousands of miles away. Horizon Productions, a 36-year old Durham company on the cutting edge of virtual reality has worked with Lenovo to do just that in its MX3D project.

Horizon, which has also worked with IBM, SAS, Citrix Security, Duke University, The University of North Carolina and many more, has been helping Fortune 500 clients tell stories for decades. Founded in 1982, the 20 employee company was primed for the “Completely new way to tell stories” when its executives tried on some VR headsets and decided they really wanted to be involved with the new technology.

“We’re not a virtual reality startup. We already had animators, artists, scriptwriters, and game-engine skill sets and we’ve been doing creative work for client for years,” explains Jason Cooper, Horizon’s chief digital officer. “We’re just taking our skills and applying them to this new technology. We educated ourselves on best practices and went out and created relationships with Google VR team with their exclusive 360 degree camera, with Epic Games and Oculus Rift.”

The company focuses on creating immersive experiences that range from marketing and sales tools, a VR experience for executive education at the UNC-CH Kenan Flagler Business School, for architecture and engineering, explaining complex concepts, and more, “Using VR techniques to bring data to life.”

“Artificial Intelligence is very difficult to demonstrate, so being able to utilize VR content to put someone into an immersive environment, allowing them to visually see the benefits of AI is very powerful,” said Greyson Davis, Sr., marketing manager, Lenovo Workstations and Client AI. “However, it requires a rare combination of creative and technical expertise to build this kind of experience.  Lenovo’s partnership with Horizon Productions allows us to take emerging technologies and turn them into expert storytelling opportunities.”

The most recent MX3D project, only one example of its work with Lenovo, can be seen in this video (https//vimeo.com/276451621), which is about as scifi as the real world gets. The company created the experience with Epic Games Unreal Engine and it runs on both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

Going even further, an IoT smart sensing network is being added to the bridge later this year. These IoT devices will gather critical information on the bridge’s health, monitor changes over it lifespan and utilized machine learning and A.I. to inform future generative design improvements.

Horizon allows you to experience this first hand by putting tracking sensors on user’s feet that feeds information from every step to a “digital twin.” You can even see the data transferred from the smart sensor tech in this real time VR environment.

The military has been using virtual and augmented reality for years to let soldiers do things such as walk terrain virtually before doing it in reality. Horizon is working on a somewhat different angle, using immersive therapy to help soldiers suffering from PTSD reclaim their lives.

Enterprise clients can see a return on investment using VR simulations that not only tell their stories, but also provide ways to get marketing messages to users. One used by Lenovo allowed users to actually take photos inside the VR experience in real time, then receive an email with the company’s marketing messages and a branded gallery of the photos the user took. Jason McGuigan, chief creative officer, said it was successfully used at an event that provided Lenovo with a significant number of leads.

Additional videos:

IBM Cloud VR: https://vimeo.com/210784446

  • It’s a good example of a linear, narrative 360° VR experience that was fully 3D generated

Here’s the really popular AR demo Horizon did to promote the Duke / UNC basketball rivalry with Coach K and Michael Jordan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cP24Oi978Q

  • The concept was that you could walk into 360° videos (or 3D worlds) from anywhere

Here’s SAS’s recap video of our Augmented Reality project for them: https://youtu.be/Prxn_9f2QIQ?t=37s

It received a Best of NRF 2018, one of the largest trade shows in the world.

Putting people in the middle of events or experiences they wouldn’t likely have access too with the best 3D 360° technology available.

Project Example: NC Pork Council (https://vimeo.com/238446474)

The ability to train, test, or practice in situations that may be dangerous or hazardous.

Project Example: Eaton’s MVD Arc Flash Events VR (http://horizonvp.com/work/mvd-arc-flash-vr)