At Zappar, it's our continuing mission to democratize AR, VR and MR (let's call them XR ;-) ). These immersive technologies are just too tasty to be reserved for the lucky few. That's why we approach every angle of our platform with three key principles in mind:
- Affordability, because the best creative minds don't always have the deepest pockets;
- Scalability, since not everyone has a huge data center in their garage; and,
- Ease of use, so that those with the best ideas can bring them to life.
From our super-affordable mixed reality headset, ZapBox, to our range of creative tools in ZapWorks, getting XR technologies into the hands of the people that will build the next generation of creative content is central to our ethos at Zappar.
We've loved watching how far our creative community has come over the last few years. You've grown with us; and as your needs have evolved, so have our platform and tools. That's why we're stoked to release today the next version of our most powerful tool, Studio 5.
Announcing Studio 5
ZapWorks Studio really is the swiss army knife of our creative toolset. It has a ton of functionality - from 3D model support, timeline animation and scripting, to 360 panorama videos and images.
In building and improving Studio, as with the design of any sufficiently powerful tool, we aim to balance exposing the greatest flexibility and feature-set, with providing a delightful, understandable, and predictable creative experience for our users.
That's why, in version 5, we've focused on making Studio easier to use. In addition to continuing to improve our comprehensive documentation and tutorials, we've simplified the user interface and language throughout. But the biggest gains are in a brand new feature called Actions.
One of Studio's greatest sources of power is its scripting support. Scripting makes it possible to create dynamic immersive experiences that react to user interaction in a way that's just not possible with simple animation or canned functionality. But with this great power comes a learning curve - understanding the fundamentals of coding.
Actions make it possible to build interactive experiences in a visual way, without having to learn or use scripting. The various components that make up a Studio project now expose a set of events and actions that mean many typical use cases don't require a single line of code. From playing animations and launching websites to taking snapshots, actions let you express your creative will without having to figure out the right combination of words and semicolons.
If you're already a fan of our existing scripting functionality you don't need to worry - it's still there for the times when additional flexibility is needed.
In case you haven't checked it out, ZapBox is our affordable mixed reality kit. It comes with a cardboard headset that we've adapted for MR, two cardboard controllers that can be tracked in full 3D six-degrees-of-freedom, and a host of other useful bits and bobs. Two weeks ago we unveiled ZapBox 2.0. It's the same kit but at a 1/8th of the volume, it's even cheaper to transport and store - super important for deploying at scale (e.g. direct mail, promotions, retail) or in hazardous environments (we're looking at you, schools).
Thus far you've had to get down and dirty with script to build content for ZapBox, but Studio 5 now includes full support for building content visually. The 3D view lets you preview content on the ZapBox map and controllers, and since it supports Actions out-of-the-box it really has never been easier to build amazing mixed reality content.
In related news, keep your eyes peeled for an update to the ZapBox app with improved tracking and support for the controller triggers.
Studio 5 brings an often-requested feature to our 3D platform - dynamic real-time lighting. With a range of materials (including toon shading), and light sources (point lights, spotlights, and others), XR content has never looked better. We've also been diligently improving our 3D import process to make sure you can get your glorious models in-scene with ease.
Onwards and Upwards
There is a raft of other changes and improvements in Studio 5 so be sure to check the Release Notes for the full low-down. If you already have Studio installed, it should update automatically the next time you launch it, otherwise head over to the Studio Download Page to get started.
Looking beyond features that made Studio 5, we have pipeline of great new tech in the works so keep watching over the next few months for some exciting announcements :-)