The buzzword of late 2021 was metaverse. Even Facebook rebranded its corporate name to Meta in recognition that fledgling virtual worlds are the next frontier in the battle for technology dominance.
One player that you may not be aware of but has big ambitions in the space is Xpllore. Founder Chris Guerin is a humble chap but nonetheless is not afraid to say he is aiming high with his second business.
“We’re looking at the next evolution of communication,” he tells TechBlast. “The 80s was about the rise of the PC; the 90s gave us the internet; and the last 15 years has been focused on social media.
“The next two decades will be all about the metaverse. It’s been coming for some time, but finally has a label which helps people understand it.
“We want to be the curators of the metaverse.”
AWS Wavelength cloud platform
Based at HOST in MediaCity, Salford, it is working with the likes of Vodafone, Nvidia and AWS on a unique cloud platform which allows the efficient streaming of data-heavy visual content, such as virtual and augmented reality, to devices via 5G.
Utilising the power of AWS Wavelength, this would in effect make the immersive content of virtual worlds available on demand.
The end-game is for any developer working with Unreal or Unity to have the ability to upload their application to the XR Streaming platform, and have users grab their headset and consume that content wherever they are.
In 2020 it worked with Vodafone and Ericsson to deliver streaming over a private 5G network of an application which allowed Coventry University students to step inside a virtual body and see how viruses attack from within.
“Working with strong partners – world leaders in their categories – has helped us do things we couldn’t have done on our own without mega finances,” he says. “We couldn’t have built data centres around the UK and globally, for example!
“We work with the biggest players in each market to realise our aspirations. We’re not unique in that: everyone is now piggybacking off each other’s technologies – even Netflix does it.”
HTC and VMWare
Xpllore has just signed a partnership deal with HTC, one of the big VR headset players, and been invited to exhibit at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February by tech giant VMWare.
It has been self-funded to date with the help of his first business, Short, a CGI animation studio which has worked on projects including the Eurofighter aircraft. Guerin is now looking to raise £250,000 to fund the next stage of its journey.
“My first business is a client-based service which is still going strong. But a lifestyle business like that is only as good as the owner,” he admits.
“Xpllore is a SaaS-based product built for others to use – a much bigger entity and idea. I’ve learned to build a service rather than a limited product.”
A trained CGI artist himself, he spent a decade at Rolls Royce working on projects such as jet engines before striking out on his own 14 years ago with Short.
“After creating content for enterprise for so many years, we are now looking at how we deliver that content back through a platform,” Guerin explains.
“When I joined Rolls Royce, engineers came to me and said ‘why do we need to stop using these 15p viewfoils and take onboard these new CGI animations? 20 years down the line, the question is ‘why do we need to stop using £2,000 animations and use £50,000 VR apps?’
“The same skillset of explaining this is coming in useful – on a 20-year loop! The answer is you are now going to get four times more retention using VR.
“The difference, however, is you can now show the developers this impact, whereas in the old days of CD-roms they had to take your word for it.”