How to build a Galaxy…

For the first time in history, the SAP Hybris Global Summit took place outside of Munich. This year’s SAP Hybris LIVE: Global Summit and its move to Barcelona also marked the 20th anniversary of the company’s founding. To match this occasion, and upon special request, Hybris Labs engaged in it’s biggest ever project. By combining elements from two of our latest prototypes, Signal and Expose, and integrating them with the event’s infrastructure, we created The Galaxy.

To tackle the complexity of this project we required help from two of our partners. It didn’t take much persuading until Impinj and Arvato, both old friends of Hybris Labs, agreed to hop on board. Here’s what we were up to in one sentence: We were going to track all attendees with RFID and visualise the generated data in VR in real-time. Before we jump to the photo story, let’s take a look at a few details.

Data privacy – Of course we tracked every one anonymously unless they agreed to link their personal profile to the RFID tag on their badge. The badge activation had to happen manually so we could be absolutely sure to have the attendee’s consent. If  attendees didn’t wish to be tracked at all they could simply request a badge without tag. Obviously, only attendees with an activated badge were able to enjoy a personalised VR experience.

Locations – Our tracking only covered specific areas like the Keynote Theatre, Main Theatres, Micro Theatres, Showcases and Demo Pods, not the entire venue. But we were not so much interested in the physical locations of our attendees. We were focusing on the topics of the sessions they attended. Tags were assigned to each session throughout the entire event. These tags were also the basis for the UI of the VR world. By combining the location of an attendee with the time of that presence, we could derive the session and the overlying topic. (Needless to say meeting rooms, catering areas, and lavatories were tracking-free zones and marked as such.)

VR experience – Similar to our Signal prototype, in the VR world attendee profiles were represented by spheres, hovering through outer space, forming The Galaxy. Users could see the interest-based locations of all attendees across the show floor. All possible actions within the VR world were controlled either by hand gestures or speech. By reaching out with their own hands, users could interact with the data surrounding them and investigate the accuracy of their own profile.

Partners – Our partners played a vital part in realising this huge task. Although The Galaxy was in essence an experiment, we had to be sure to build a reliable system that would produce useful data for our marketing team while creating a memorable VR experience for our attendees. Put in very simple terms: Impinj gathered the data and sponsored the hardware to do so, Arvato enriched the data and integrated with various APIs, and Hybris Labs brought the data to life in VR.

And now…

 

…How to build The Galaxy – A Photo Story

We’re joining the story in Munich for the staging of the setup environment, three weeks before the Summit.

There was quite a bit of hardware that had to be configured and also shipped…

This is only one out of three Sven sized pallets that had to be transported to Barcelona. After making sure everything had gotten there safely…

…we were ready for business.  You know things are starting to get serious when they hand you a walkie-talkie!

Once that was sorted, we took a closer look at the floor plan together with Impinj and the setup crew to figure out which RFID reader had to go where.

“Don’t worry, Nick. Everything’s gonna be fine. After all, you have a walkie-talkie.” – Georg said, putting his hand on Nick’s shoulder but silently worrying if he could believe his own words. But with the first readers mounted…

…the confidence started to grow, as did the structure of the event’s centrepiece – the main Galaxy demo station.

We had five demo stations in total to give more people the chance to enter the The Galaxy but this was the biggest and most fancy of the lot.

So big and fancy in fact, Max started to loose his cool slightly…

…because he started to realise that it might not go unnoticed if his VR/Leap Motion/speech recognition concoction failed to deliver. So we huddled up as a team to help Max with the preparations for the VR setup, while reminding him of the vast impact The Galaxy would have if it really worked…

…which made him very happy. “Thumbs up!” – he said.

In the meantime, the Impinj and Arvato teams were discussing the essence of The Galaxy.

They were trying to answer the questions of life, the universe, and how to interpret the data they were collecting. Data that users would see through the VR headsets…

…that Max was getting ready for action. And while Georg was channeling the motto of The Galaxy

…Max was up in the dome…

…happily explaining that “this…

is exactly the right amount of cables to make it look complicated”.  And then…

…the stage was finally set. The time to demo had come. And boy, did we demo! It felt like a Christmas sale! Luckily, we had some excellent assistants who did a fantastic job getting our visitors ready to enter The Galaxy.

Which gesture best describes The Galaxy experience?

We couldn’t have been happier with the outcome and want to thank really everyone who contributed in one way or the other.

But we may not forget to mention that we also had two of our “standard” prototypes at the Summit: Pepper and Charly. Weird how this has become a side note… Since almost the entire Labs team was engaged in Galaxy demos, we needed support from our colleagues. Thank you Asja, Jakob, Taka and Pietro!! You are hereby declared honorary but also honourable members of Hybris Labs.

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