Recently I spoke to Tom Szirtes, co-founder of Mbryonic and previously a developer for Sega. Mbryonic is a very, very cool digital design studio who develops VR/AR applications on a project-by-project basis, with some interesting experiences under their belt. Below is an interview with Tom himself:
Great to speak to you, Tom. What do you do?
Mbryonic is a digital design studio based in East London. We create virtual and mixed reality apps and bespoke installations. We work with brands, marketing agencies and the creative industries to make immersive interactive experiences that inspire, educate and entertain.
So how did it all start?
Mbryonic was founded by Tom Szirtes and Ellis Leeper. Tom started his career developing video games for Sega, before moving into technology innovation. Tom also has a parallel career as a electronic music producer and international DJ under the name Shur-i-kan. Ellis has managed brands for twenty years for some of the world’s best-known telecoms companies such as Vodafone and Cable & Wireless.
Mbryonic was conceived as a place to nurture small ideas into great projects. Allowing Tom and Ellis freedom to combine world-class design and creative thinking with cutting edge technology.
So you work with all the major headsets?
We work across all major VR headsets including HTC Vive, Oculus, Samsung Gear and Google Cardboard. We pick the headset(s) to support depending on the specific requirements of the project. Vive and Oculus allow more high definition content and interactive possibilities, whilst Gear and Cardboard are great for portability and audience reach.
What kinds of projects do you work on?
We work on a variety of projects. Around half for clients – typically these are digital or VR experiences for marketing events. The other half are our own work and often in collaboration with third parties. These include installations for art events and interactive music experiences which is a close interest of ours. For example we are creating a platform that allows bands and artists to create their own VR music experiences and are working in collaboration with Columbia Records.
Realm is a long-term collaboration with Atomhawk Design an award winning art design studio based in Newcastle. The Realm is set in a far distant future where nature has reclaimed the earth. Originally conceived as a game, it developed into an interactive story book. The prose itself was crowd sourced from the public using a web platform we designed. The Realm was not designed as an AR experience.
Realm sounds fascinating – do you think AR can merge with storytelling?
I think there are certainly some very interesting use cases for AR in storytelling. Actually AR has been around for a long time on mobile phones, but the user experience has a lot of friction, so we won’t see this really come into the fore until we have lightweight capable AR headsets. Fundamentally designing stories that adapt to different environments is challenging but the AR community is going to have a lot of fun exploring this.
What examples of VR, AR, and Installations have you worked on, and which ones are close to your heart?
One of our favorite projects is Play Sage Gateshead, this was commissioned by the Sage, the North’s premier music venue, for their tenth anniversary. The idea is that we turn the building into a giant instrument allowing visitors to create music by bashing the floor and hitting the walls – all in virtual reality. It was released on iPhone, iPad and also for Oculus Rift.
Thank you for your time, Tom.