Blog and News.
Blog and News.
As we head into CES 2023 this week, the metaverse remains a hot topic. There are several tracks dedicated to the topic and there is even a Gaming, Metaverse and XR sector in LVCC Central Hall anchored by the likes of Microsoft and Magic Leap. Back in 2018, a team of innovators got together to show what the future of an event like CES could be by utilizing immersive technology in a way that many had not seen before. The concept of digital twins and VR events now seems commonplace, but when Intel and Sansar created a digital twin of Intel’s CES booth in VR for CES 2018, it was revolutionary.
The CES Booth experience was produced by Lisa M Watts, who headed up Immersive Marketing for Intel at that time. While Watts has since gone on to form her own company, One/Twenty1 Immersive, she remembers the project as one of her favorites in her long tenure at the company. “There was never a question that we would do this project with Sansar at that time. The capabilities of the platform to deliver a visually stunning digital twin of the Intel booth, along with several VR-only extended experiences, and the opportunity to have visitors experience it from all around the world without traveling to Las Vegas was something that I knew we just had to do,” says Watts. “Looking back on the project through the lens of what is happening today, well, it just seems a bit unreal. Clearly, we were leading into the future.”
To create the project, Watts worked closely with the studio team at Sansar, especially the former Sansar studio lead, Jason Gholston, and then Lead Environmental Artist, Mario Wagner. The mission for the project was straightforward… Create a scale version of the Intel Booth within the Sansar environment and represent as many of the demos as possible. Starting with the blueprints and the digital concept art directed by Intel’s visionary event producer, Victor Torregroza, the team painstakingly worked through the recreation. The timeline allowed on the entire project was extremely tight, approximately 8 weeks from start to finish… and it didn’t just include the booth.
While it wasn’t technically possible to replicate all of the interactive demos included in the real world Intel Booth, the VR version provided some interesting opportunities to “extend reality” that the team took advantage of. In the entry to the booth, the team recreated the acrylic transparent vehicle that in the physical booth featured sensors that responded to a visitors presence and showcased the technology used to enable that particular feature. The digitally recreated car features interactive elements that replicated the information in order to convey the same messages.
Another stunning addition is the Intel Processor walkthrough. In this space, the visitor arrives inside a PC and travels through a CPU, encountering all the different components that make it function. Taken from a set of 2D schematics, technical artist Gordon Henson re-imagined the the chip in 3D delivering a unique, “Intel Inside” look at the mysterious brain that powers so many of the world's computers.
2018 was also the year that the Steven Speilberg directed “Ready Player One” movie was released and one of the “easter eggs” in the Intel CES virtual booth is a portal through which visitors are transported into one of the most iconic locations in the Oasis, Aech’s Garage. This part of the project was made possible by HTC and Warner Bros, leveraging the digital movie assets from Industrial Light and Magic. “Optimizing the film assets for Sansar was a fascinating challenge. If the richly detailed visuals of Aech's Garage weren't preserved it would be cut from the Intel virtual booth. Fortunately, the Sansar Studios team did a masterful job. The result provided eager film fans a first-of-its-kind opportunity to freely explore a visually stunning shooting location prior to the release of the film,” says Gholston.
One final detail was developed, exclusively for the CES opening keynote by then Intel CEO, Brian Krazanich. Mr. Krzanich invited Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)™, to tour the booth during the keynote. In order to make this possible, the Sansar team created custom avatars for Mr. Krzanich and Mr. Shapiro. Don’t take our word for it, watch the replay here! In order to further replicate the in person experience, the Intel team staffed the digital booth with virtual brand ambassadors, powered by Intel employees all over the world. The employees' avatars were dressed in the same clothing that their real life counterparts in Las Vegas were wearing and were available round the clock to meet and greet virtual visitors.
“I predict these types of VR experiences will within the next decade become natural extensions of how we come to know and experience our human existence. VR worlds ignite our imagination and inspire our creativity,” said Frank Soqui, former VP at Intel, in his blog highlighting the project (original post no longer available). Says Watts, “None of us could have had any idea how much the pandemic was going to accelerate interest in immersive tech and the metaverse. But to see the innovation and imagination of the creative and tech communities over the last few years has been so inspiring. What will we be able to bring into existence in 2023 and beyond? All I know is that it will be amazing!”