Blog Technology

Seeing is Believing: XR in Action at DCG ONE

Highly versatile extended reality (XR) technologies are changing the landscape of what we do at DCG ONE. XR is the umbrella term for a few different but related technologies.  

Augmented reality (AR) involves the layering of a digital experience over a live scene of the real world as viewed through a camera of a smartphone or tablet. Imagine a 3D mockup of a printed installation in its future location—we can and do use AR for that.  

Mixed reality (MR) is similar to AR, except that the digital elements interact with the real world—to a point. With an AR experience, the viewer sees the 3D model on top of what the camera sees. With MR, the experience is more immersive as physical objects in the real world can appear above, below, on top of, or behind real-world objects.  

Virtual reality (VR) offers viewer controls in and around an entirely digital experience. There is nothing real about it, except for the ability to turn and move about in a made-up world in all directions.  

XR technologies have become valuable tools at DCG ONE and are widely used, from deliverables such as bespoke XR experiences for customers like Delta Airlines to virtual prototyping of structural and large-format designs to previsualization of large-scale print installations.  

XR in the print industry 

As the print industry evolves and large-format printing has become more common, our traditional practices are increasingly complemented by XR and 3D rendering. With printed marketing materials, adding an XR component can make for a much more engaging experience for the end user. Imagine receiving direct mail from a company that you like. Direct mail shows off its latest product with beautifully printed graphics that draw you in. But say you want to be able to see the product up close or see how the product would look in your home. With a QR code on the printed piece or NFC tag (an embedded chip that allows the user to tap a smartphone instead of scanning a QR code), you could trigger an AR experience that allows you to get more information about the product and interact with it in a way you otherwise would not be able to with a regular direct mail piece.  

This richer and more engaging experience helps with customer interaction. Even better, data on user interaction can be used to inform the execution of future projects. User engagement, information explored, and purchase details are all extremely valuable data points that can be tapped with much more ease than with traditional direct mail techniques. 

XR and previsualization 

XR technologies have become go-to formats for previsualization (or “PreViz,” as we like to call it) of large-scale projects. This has already become part of our proofing process for some bigger installations. For example, say a company with a large retail facility wants us to do a complete refresh of its store. Our team does a site visit, takes measurements or a 3D scan of the space, takes reference photos, and (when possible) gets copies of the floor plan. With all this information, we model the entire space in 3D at real-world scale. We then implement the graphics and other elements of the experience into the 3D model. The 3D model can be used to generate static renderings of the space or be turned into a complete VR experience. Creating a VR experience allows for a more immersive interaction with the virtual space and provides a much better feel for what the project will look like when completed.  

The larger the project scope the more important this process becomes as it can be very hard to reconcile the scale of things on a flat PDF proof. At the end of the process, everyone involved with the project, from the creative director to the end customer, will have a much better understanding of the final product and the path to deliver on it. The process makes it easier to get valuable feedback earlier and avoid potential oversights before going on press. Additionally, virtual prototypes are both a time- and cost-saving measure for everyone and create client confidence that the vison of the project is coming to life in the right way. 

XR and The Agency at DCG ONE 

Inside The Agency at DCG ONE, XR has also become a powerful tool. Not only can we use these technologies to create tailored XR experiences that live outside of any printed work, but we are leveraging XR technologies to help iterate on our designs. Say our designers are working on a large outdoor mural, the ability to see how their work is coming together in a VR or AR experience can be quite revealing. Maybe there is a video screen installed on the wall, or there is furniture along the wall, or something critical in the design is blocked from a certain angle. An XR view can help with decision making, as well as project speed and efficiency.   

XR and the future 

With the rise in popularity of XR devices like the Apple Vision Pro and Meta Quest, XR technology is getting stronger and quickly gaining value. It is an extremely versatile set of technologies that’s here to stay and with few limits as to what it can do.  

Tell us what you are imagining and let us bring it to life!