The AR creators Virtual Rangers

Always think of the user to bring on the wow” effect”
© photo 1: Matthieu Bracchetti

The many incredible children’s books exhibited during the two editions of AB / Augmented Books inspired Rotondes to take on a new feat. Surrounded by a 100% Luxembourgish team, we have published D’Sandmeedchen, our very first children’s book − in augmented reality, no less! Meet three of the people who made this adventure possible.

Hi Matthieu! We have your company, Virtual Rangers, to thank for the animated part of the D’Sandmeedchen book, right?

Yes! At Virtual Rangers we create virtual and augmented reality experiences. We work in a number of areas. As an example, we’ve just made a hologram for a major motorcycle brand. But we’ve also worked with the CHL on a project around desensitisation to pain through virtual reality. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are technologies that can be used in many different ways.

In what type of project does the use of AR and VR make the most sense? When does is stop being a gimmick and become a game-changer, a success?

There is a common denominator to all successful projects. Even if you have the best graphic designer in the world, the best developer, the best 3D designer, etc, it won’t work if you haven’t thought about user experience. And that goes for a website or an app too. You have to ask yourself a lot of questions: What will be seen? How will it work? How will the user direct him/​herself? What will the user have to do? What actions will the user be asked to perform? Which result is the user going to expect? You really have to put yourself in the user’s shoes. Taking user experience properly into account can take up to half the time on some projects but it’s essential in order to distance yourself from all things gimmickry. What makes a project interesting is what you give the end user and how you bring on the wow” effect.

And so how did Virtual Rangers achieve the wow” effect in D’Sandmeedchen?

Originally, the idea was to use flat animations, so the illustrator, Dirk Kesseler, sent us a first batch in GIF format. From a user perspective, that would mean opening the app, scanning, waiting for it to load and then getting a GIF that repeats itself over one or two seconds. We wanted to create something a little more spectacular and which would last longer, with larger animations. That’s the advantage of augmented reality: you can bring a book to life without staying flat, you can change dimensions. So we respected the artist’s style but went further through 3D animation of scenes in the book.

In your opinion, what can the general public expect from AR and VR?

In a professional context, these technologies have already been easily adopted. But for the general public we still lack cases of use, despite millions of people having been introduced to AR through the Pokémon Go game, and even though our smartphones give us an easy and democratic access to these technologies. (The app that comes with the book will be available on as many devices as possible). However, as giants like Google and Apple are currently working on large developments in this field, we should see an AR revolution within two years. We just have to be patient a little longer!