Moving with Next­crea­te into the Metaverse

the con­tent aut­ho­ring tool for digi­tal learning

The mar­ket for digi­tal lear­ning has not just been expe­ri­en­cing an ups­wing sin­ce the pan­de­mic. Tur­no­ver has increased by €35.28 bil­li­on world­wi­de sin­ce 2017 - par­ti­cu­lar­ly in the B2B sec­tor. Com­pa­nies are one of the lar­gest tar­get groups for digi­tal know­ledge trans­fer and e-lear­ning. They need to be regu­lar­ly updating their employees or making con­tent available to them - for exam­p­le, by trai­ning regu­lar­ly for updates or gua­ran­te­e­ing good onboar­ding in sec­tors with high staff tur­no­ver. Aut­ho­ring tools make it real­ly easy to crea­te lear­ning con­tent in-house. Howe­ver, they are usual­ly desi­gned for the desktop.

Tho­se who want to extend their know­ledge are sit­ting in trai­ning rooms or in an office and have a screen in front of them. Many stu­dies show that the lear­ning effect is lower here than through inter­ac­ti­ve or spa­ti­al appro­pria­ti­on. Moreo­ver, the majo­ri­ty of employees often now tend to be among the “des­kless workers” - i.e. they’re not sit­ting in front of a screen. The hea­ting engi­neer or the safe­ty tech­ni­ci­an, for exam­p­le, are stan­ding in front of machi­nes during con­s­truc­tion or main­ten­an­ce and are nee­ding spe­ci­fic infor­ma­ti­on. It’s rare­ly the case that the com­ple­te docu­men­ta­ti­on is available on site. Even employees in sys­tem cate­ring, who are often expo­sed to a high stress level, won’t then be log­ging on to the Intra­net to look up the neces­sa­ry ins­truc­tions when pre­pa­ring food or main­tai­ning kit­chen machines.

A simp­le e-lear­ning solu­ti­on for B2B

The Pots­dam-based com­pa­ny Inter­la­ke has now deve­lo­ped Next­crea­te which is a tool that can be used direct­ly with smart­phones, tablets or even VR glas­ses for digi­tal enhance­ment at the point of need and acces­sed for the dif­fe­rent pha­ses of work. “We want to make such topics available to the gene­ral public. And soft­ware does­n’t sol­ve the pro­blems, it’s just an enabler,” says Sven Sla­zen­ger, CEO and foun­der of Inter­la­ke. “Put sim­ply, we were loo­king for a solu­ti­on to trans­port infor­ma­ti­on from A to B. Available to down­load on such tar­get devices as tablets and mobi­le pho­nes that ever­y­bo­dy has at their dis­po­sal and, on the other hand, so easy to use that ever­y­bo­dy who knows Out­look can work with it. We’­re empowe­ring tho­se in char­ge to be able to crea­te the con­tent them­sel­ves in a very simp­le way.”

Inter­la­ke had alre­a­dy been pro­vi­ding digi­tal lear­ning solu­ti­ons befo­re sel­ling its Inter­la­ke Lear­ning sub­si­dia­ry and it had also been working as an exclu­si­ve part­ner with Arti­cu­la­te, the glo­bal pro­vi­der of a 360-degree sto­ry­line tool. The divi­si­on was sold last year so that the com­pa­ny could con­cen­tra­te on the core busi­ness of Micro­soft Cloud Tech­no­lo­gies. But after cus­to­mers repea­ted­ly approa­ched Inter­la­ke with requests for an easy-to-use and desk­top-inde­pen­dent appli­ca­ti­on, the com­pa­ny then began deve­lo­ping an AR aut­ho­ring tool that does not requi­re high-end devices and can be used on seri­al ports.

None of this is real­ly that new: the­re are seve­ral 3D aut­ho­ring tools now in the field of aug­men­ted rea­li­ty - but the­se then have to be kit­ted out with 3D ele­ments. To date, very few com­pa­nies have had the cor­re­spon­ding con­tent at their dis­po­sal. This is becau­se three-dimen­sio­nal con­tent invol­ves con­sidera­ble invest­ment in time and money. What ever­yo­ne has, on the other hand, is text infor­ma­ti­on, images, data or vide­os. Interlake’s declared objec­ti­ve is to pro­du­ce a soft­ware for the­se needs that does wit­hout a “sup­port night­ma­re”, Sla­zen­ger says. “Our tool enhan­ces rea­li­ty with digi­tal infor­ma­ti­on in cer­tain places.” As a deve­lo­per, Inter­la­ke can’t be com­pared with start-ups who attract lar­ge invest­ment and can quick­ly tur­n­around pro­duc­tion thanks to high expen­dit­u­re. Ins­tead, it only invests from its own resour­ces, works in clo­se tan­dem with cli­ents and through tried and trus­ted dis­tri­bu­ti­on channels 

Digi­tal anchor points in the room are used to retrie­ve the neces­sa­ry information

An important pro­ject was a pre­cur­sor for Next­crea­te when the com­pa­ny col­la­bo­ra­ted with the artist Sarah Sett­gast and the musi­ci­an Rolf Zuc­kow­ski on the crea­ti­on of an inter­ac­ti­ve children’s book with AR ele­ments and an accom­pany­ing app. Anyo­ne lea­fing through the book with a mobi­le device and app will hear the asso­cia­ted songs being play­ed and texts dis­play­ed - the cor­re­spon­ding pages are very sim­ply reco­g­nis­ed using the pho­to func­tion. Inter­la­ke CEO Sven Sla­zen­ger, who was invol­ved in this pro­ject as a busi­ness part­ner on the publi­shing side, also estab­lished the cont­act with Volu­cap who then deli­ver­ed life­li­ke minia­tu­re holo­grams of Zuc­kow­ski and Sett­gast in its volu­metric stu­dio. A sta­tis­ti­cal eva­lua­ti­on in the back­ground show­ed that about 400 dif­fe­rent mobi­le devices acces­sed children’s book’s AR func­tion - and, on each occa­si­on, the appli­ca­ti­on work­ed wit­hout a hitch. 

The first beta ver­si­on of Next­crea­te is based on the same prin­ci­ple and offers a brow­ser-based aut­ho­ring tool that anyo­ne can use to upload images, vide­os and texts. Digi­tal anchors reco­g­nis­ing the pro­gram­me are nee­ded in order to ensu­re that ever­y­thing is play­ed out direct­ly at the point of need. Inter­la­ke uses spa­ti­al anchors along­side QR codes to reco­g­ni­se and access the desi­red infor­ma­ti­on. Tho­se who think fur­ther and actual­ly want to crea­te con­tent for the meta­ver­se or 3D envi­ron­ments can also use Next­crea­te. Howe­ver, the pro­vi­ders will need the cor­re­spon­ding ele­ments to be able to do this.

Inter­la­ke is curr­ent­ly focu­sing with Next­crea­te on the field of B2B e-lear­ning sin­ce estab­lished cont­acts and dis­tri­bu­ti­on struc­tures are alre­a­dy in place here. Working on test pha­ses with a manu­fac­tu­rer of agri­cul­tu­ral machi­nery has enab­led Next­crea­te to make main­ten­an­ce docu­men­ta­ti­on available to tho­se direct­ly ope­ra­ting the machi­nes. A car manu­fac­tu­rer, a lar­ge bak­ery and a sys­tem cate­ring com­pa­ny also num­ber among the beta testers.

The fields of the arts or tou­rism are also are­as whe­re appli­ca­ti­on sce­na­ri­os could be appli­ed. Addi­tio­nal infor­ma­ti­on can be made available, for exam­p­le, by using digi­tal exten­si­on wit­hout spoi­ling the exhibition’s visu­al concept.

Next­crea­te will move from clo­sed beta to public beta next month. Inte­res­ted com­pa­nies are wel­co­me to attend by invitation. 

Image Cre­dit: Interlake/​Nextcreate

About MTH Blog

The media technologies of the future are already being used today – not only in the entertainment sector, but also in a wide variety of industries. Christine Lentz meets up with tech enthusiasts, established companies and researchers for our monthly MediaTech Hub Potsdam blog to tell the stories behind the innovative business models.