Barclays Eagle Labs partnered with The University of Salford to tackle a VR challenge of replicating a Barclays Eagle Labs in realistic immersive detail, enabling potential and existing businesses to experience what a working Eagle Lab looks and feels like.
Barclays Eagle Labs VR tour prototype was conceptualised to support existing and future businesses with a way to experience an Eagle Lab without leaving the comfort of their office/home. Three 2nd Year students from the University of Salford School of Arts, Media & Creative Technologies (Glenn Watts, Matthew Harrison, and Thomas Whittle) with support from their Senior Lecturer Dr Juan Hiriart Vera, designed and built the first iteration of the VR prototype.
The concept was designed around 3 goals:
- Educate businesses on how Eagle Labs support businesses across the UK
- Educate businesses on why ecosystems are important
- Educate businesses on the scale of sectors working across Eagle labs
The current prototype focused on the first goal which required the team to replicate an Eagle Lab in high detail with interactive 3D objects and pop ups, navigation, user interface, sound and environment design and AI characters to ensure the user experience replicates the look and feel of a real world Eagle Lab. This is no easy feat to accomplish.
The purpose of the prototype is not intended to remove real world interactions with an Eagle Lab but provide customers/users with a way to experience and learn more about Eagle Labs without physically having to be there. It is to experiment to explore and understand what is possible and capable through new technologies such as VR, allowing others to understand what can be achieved in 2021.
Future project developments are still underway with one student, Glenn Watts, now in his 3rd Year of University, with the support of Dr Juan Hiriart Vera. Glen is continuing to develop the prototype throughout 2021, developing additional functionality focusing on goals 2 & 3 that can be showcased to the public.
Why did we partner with The University of Salford?
We reached out to Mike Brown, Director of Strategic Partnerships at the University of Salford to discuss a number of VR challenges. Mike explained how the University needed industry and business partners to provide students with practical hands-on experience through industry relevant projects. These projects require students to work on real-world problems with the support of employers who define the project and provide support and feedback throughout. The end result is the business partner is provided with a working prototype and the students gain valuable experience working with a business. It was a perfect synergy for Barclays to support.
Why did the University of Salford partner with Barclays?
The University of Salford has placed working with industry and business at the heart of its activities, from industry-focused research to giving students opportunities to work on industry/business projects. To enable this the University develops mutually beneficial partnerships with business and industry.
Mike Brown, Director of Strategic Industry Partnerships commented, “During initial discussion with the team at Barclays it quickly became apparent there was a shared vision and the student VR project was both challenging and innovative and would give our students a real-world project they could really get their teeth into.”
“The support and feedback from Barclays, throughout the project, has been exceptional and much appreciated by the students and their Lecturer. Building on the success of this project I’m keen to explore other opportunities with Barclays.”
Glen Watts, University of Salford Student (Digital Media) commented “The opportunity to work on the Barclays VR project, especially during the COVID pandemic, has been a fantastic way of escaping the reality of lock-down by creating a virtual one. The project enabled me to gain valuable applied knowledge and experience using the latest technology from Oculus with the Quest 2 VR headset and Unity XR pipeline. I’d like to thank Barclays for the great support which helped me understand and capture the ‘clients’ need. With each iteration this project keeps presenting me with new and exciting possibilities; I can’t wait to see the future for both VR and how it is deployed in Barclays.”