In order to prove the value of our solutions Spearhead work hard to ensure that all of our developments are available to experience directly through this website.
This blog post will guide you through the process of accessing 3D content, providing comprehensive details regarding each step whilst also covering the options available in exporting to the web.
Step 1: Portfolio
Within the Spearhead Portfolio you will find a variety of projects split into four categories:
Clients: Commercial work we have completed across the public and private sector. These solutions are identifiable through the commissioning clients logo.
Demonstrators: Internal solutions designed to prove specific benefits and showcase applications for the technology. They are identified by the Spearhead ideogram located on the left and the specific number attached to each development.
Products: Software applications which operate as individual monetised solutions. All products maintain Spearhead branding and contain the Spearhead ideogram in the centre of the icon.
Proof of Concept: Smaller, discrete projects designed to demonstrate specific elements of functionality. Each of the proof of concept icons has the Spearhead ideogram on the left and is labeled with a POC marker on the right.
The full Spearhead portfolio can be searched according to these categories, or you can access them all directly.
Step 2: Project
Access a solution from within the portfolio by clicking on the desired icon to access the corresponding project page. Each of these pages contains full details on the purpose of the application and provides a comprehensive outline of available functionality alongside release and access information.
Spearhead have also included images within the header bar of each project page to provide an insight into the experience and quality of the interactive application instantly.
Step 3: Access
To experience the 3D solution, click the “experience through browser” button located in the main body of text on the project page:
This will take you to a separate page with an embedded web-player. Currently, all Spearhead solutions are exported using the Unity rendering engine. Whilst this enables us to embed 3D content directly into our website, there is a current requirement for the Unity plug-in to be installed. For users who already have the plug-in, the selected project content will begin to download and will load automatically once complete. Should you require the plug-in, a button will appear directing you to the Unity website where you are guided through the installation process.
Step 4: Use
We’re still putting the finishing touches to the website so currently the web-player shows the solution at the wrong resolution. To mitigate this in the short-term, we have included a full-screen option to view our solutions at anything up to full HD 1080p depending on your maximum monitor resolution. Click this icon to enter full-screen mode:
To access elements of functionality from within the 3D applications, Spearhead have integrated a unique control system which is utilised across each solution. Click the Spearhead ideogram in the bottom-left of each interface to load the available functionality options:
Enabling access to Spearhead solutions via any browser on any PC or mac with an Internet connection, web-players are used to embed 3D content across websites. This is an extremely simple process comparable to embedding traditional images or video.
Spearhead currently export web-player solutions using the Unity engine as it is currently the most flexible and the only comparable engine available with the ability to export content to the web, however access to Unity 3D content requires the use of the Unity plug-in. This plugin is installed via a very simple and quick process generally lasting less than seven seconds. Once installed, the user can then access all Unity content across the web from that point on without any need to re-install the plug-in. It’s exactly the same as the process users went through in order to access Flash content in the mid-1990s.
Spearhead recognises that the plug-in requirement may be an issue for certain users and our clients. Whilst Unity does not typically release details on the number of machines the plug-in is installed on, metrics from 2013 put install rates at over 200m, with a significant rise in the number of machines becoming Unity compatible in recent years.
Additional metrics demonstrate significant adoption and installation when value is perceived to lie behind the solution. Due to the nature of Spearhead developments and the novelty of engagement for users in experiencing and using applications across this site that interest them, we expect high levels of install rates from our visitors.
For those that are interested, further details on hardware statistics for users can be found here: http://stats.unity3d.com/web/os.htm.
Unity recently announced the provision of OpenGL support on the release of Unity 4.0.Using OpenGL essentially means that no plug-in will be required and Unity content will load directly from the page as any image or video currently does.
The date for the Unity 4.0 release has not been announced, however Spearhead expect this to be around Q4 2014.
Requirements and Constraints:
Spearhead develop solutions to the highest levels of graphical quality relative to the hardware available to the end-user. We aim to target the mass consumer market and so have balanced our development to ensure that our applications will run on the vast majority of home-user hardware. Spearhead are more than capable of creating visually stunning real-time solutions comparable to leading software within the entertainment sector for clients with the infrastructure and processing power (or the willingness to invest in upgrading hardware) to engage with this content.
In the vast majority of cases we expect visitors to our site to enjoy a seamless and problem-free experience with the 3D content available within our portfolio. If you are experiencing specific issues, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the enquiry form on our contact page for assistance.
Currently, the Unity 3D plug-in is non supported on through mobile browsers. To combat this, Spearhead will be migrating many of our solutions as apps available on Android, iOS, Blackberry and Windows Phone app-stores. Where available, details regarding access to these apps on the various stores are presented to users in the Project Details sidebar located on the project page. Each of the currently released client projects are also available on both Android and iOS for mobile users.
Through this guide we hope to have given you an insight into the processes involved in embedding and accessing 3D content; we invite you to experience some of the potential applications for real-time 3D solutions for yourself by visiting our portfolio.