We define ourselves as content architects. The heart of our activity is the hybridisation of media. We’re a production studio for transmedia content. We come up with innovative uses for media and original narrative universes. We work on projects from the original concept up to production (2D, 3D, VR, AR, real time and coding). We favour versatility at all levels of the production chain and open solutions (such as Unity3D). Our central project in innovation is emotion capture. It is aimed at developing the entertainment uses of emotion measurement. The programme's first field of application focusses on a VR Theme Park attraction, and an interactive series, BRAIN SNATCHERS.
Our goal is to add value to agile methods of creation, new technology and new economic models in order to build new digital experiences. Hybridisation is at the heart of our transmedia approach. It combines 3 cardinal values that our philosophy is based on:
Agility (represented by the fox). Versatility is first and foremost at the core of the company’s abilities, as the cornerstone of the digital artist’s adaptability and sense of teamwork.
Courage (represented by deer antlers). It represents the effort, craftsmanship and procedural innovation that the art of prototyping requires.
Passion (represented by eagle wings). It represents strategic and technological vision, and at the same time, the artistic requirements needed. This is the basis for the sense of utopia and radical innovation, but it also represents the sense of enjoyment that is necessary to drive the work forward.
Based in Toulon, one of Iconik’s vocations is also to promote dialogue with university research departments and teaching through partnerships with the University of Toulon and Ingémédia training.
Human beings have a unique ability to interpret emotions. We aren’t all mind readers but we are however capable of reading the almost imperceptible signs that reveal emotions, such as eye humidity, pupil dilation, goose pimples, blushing, jaw clenching, facial expressions or hand gestures... This ability to read emotions is one of the qualities many artists have. A great orator adapts to their audience and can really resonate with their listeners. This is what makes the experience of live shows so unique and what is often missing from digital experiences. We are convinced that we can revolutionise these digital experiences through emotion capture.
Work on emotion capture dates from the beginning of the 20th century with the invention of the first electrocardiogram and then the polygraph. Carl Jung was among the first to use a biometric signal recorder in his psychoanalytic work. In 1922, William Marston created one of the first lie detectors. His research into emotion analysis resulted in the DISC method which defines an individual’s emotional profile according to their perception of their environment (hostile or favourable) and their reaction (introvert or extrovert). Marston, who was an advocate for women, also created the character of Wonder Woman as a response to Superman. The heroine’s truth lasso is a nod to his lie detector.
Within the space of a century, there was a formidable acceleration in neuroscientific research, especially due to medical imaging. These techniques – which remain extremely expensive – allowed us to begin mapping human brain activity and to better understand how emotions work. At the same time, in the first decade of the 21st century, major advances were made in facial recognition. In 2015, Microsoft revealed the Oxford project which would measure emotions through recognition of facial expressions. However, although these programmes have been used to create the first databases for emotional data (Big Feel Data), there are many limits to them. First of all they are very intrusive because they require a camera to film the user’s face. Secondly, they require rather restrictive technical conditions (light, camera frame). Finally, facial emotion tracking isn’t compatible with virtual reality headsets.
In the last few years, the explosion in the internet of things has accelerated component development, especially biometric sensors. First of all optical cardiac rhythm sensors (HRCs), which use a light beam to continuously measure blood flow. Then galvanic sensors (GSR) which measure the electrical state of the skin. The accuracy of these sensors now enables us to work with the entire spectrum of emotions.
Measuring emotional states is no longer science fiction. Several emotion-measuring bracelets are already in existence. Most of them were designed for stress management purposes. Signal processing for these sensors is progressing all the time, such as for example, in the recent release of the first embedded, dedicated biometric sensors. The race to capture emotions is now moving towards algorithmic research and compiling of immense databases of emotional data.
In the same way colour palettes work, the complexity of human emotions can be represented by 4 primary emotions: Happiness, Anger, Fear and Sadness. These work as complementary emotions, in opposing pairs (extroverted/introverted): Anger/Fear and Joy/Sadness. Using these 4 primary emotions, secondary emotions can be distinguished, a harmonic combination of two primary emotions such as Desire which is a mixture of Anger and Happiness.
Emotion is caused by a stimulus. In turn it triggers a series of psychological and physiological consequences. Some are obvious, such as crying, screaming, laughing, opening your eyes wide... Others are more subtle. The Emotion Capture Bracelet is used to measure changes in cardiac rhythm and the temperature and conductivity of the skin. This technology works using simple skin contact, is painless and, unlike facial tracking, is compatible with VR headsets.
We began in 2015, by supporting BPI, the emotion capture research programme aimed at defining emotional profiles and capturing emotional states in real time. We entered into a partnership with university research departments, and more especially Ingémédia (University of Toulon). The first experimental phase conducted on 150 volunteers in 2016 was successful. Our algorithm combines and analyses biometric signals. It requires a calibration of less than 10 minutes per user and fine-tunes your emotion type (emotional profile). Our application is aimed at working with the Emotion Capture Bracelet but also with most of the compatible devices on the market. Iconik is committed to an ethical approach towards data. The data collected is anonymous and is intended solely for entertainment uses. It is not for commercial use or resold to third parties.
In addition to the Emotion Capture API, we are offering a series of mobile applications, for music (emotional playlist), for home automation (ambiance management) and for sharing your emotions (emotes on social networks). Eventually emotion capture will revolutionise audience measurement and will create a new link between creators, for television series especially, and audiences.
Emotion Capture is intended for entertainment uses. We want to enrich your digital experiences by playing with your emotions. Our very first application will be a virtual reality theme park. Through Iconik’s association with a major French group, from 2017, the public will be able to try out this unique 4D experience themselves across several of France’s biggest cities.
At the same time, ICONIK is developing the first game in an interactive series, based on an original science fiction universe: Brain Snatchers. This game series has been specially written and developed for emotional capture use. In Brain Snatchers, you’ll have to learn to control your emotions to survive.
Iconik was founded in 2001, in Lyon by the brothers Julien and Sébastien Laffont, Julian taking on the role of screenwriter and Sébastien acting as Artistic Director (trained in industrial design at La Grande Tourrache). Over the years, the global communication agency has become a production studio specialising in animation and transmedia applications. Between 2007 and 2010, Julien and Sébastien created the Rush Runners licence (concept, storyline, universe, visuals, toys etc.) in the context of the production of a range of toys for the SMOBY MAJORETTE brand. In 2008, Sébastien met Nicolas Romain and worked with him as lead designer on ambitious projects such as Abyme or WindWalkers. After Julien Laffont left, Nicolas Romain took over Iconik with Sébastien in July 2015 and moved to the vicinity of Toulon, and the idyllic location of Carqueiranne.
Nicolas holds a Doctorate in Economy and Work Sociology (LEST-Aix-en-Provence). He worked as a business consultant and in financial strategy for a large naval firm. He was involved in creating the TV-UP start-up then FORGE Animation. He is an associate professor at Ingémédia (University of Toulon). He is currently president of the PACA (PRIMI) transmedia department and administrator of the SCS Microelectronics Competitiveness Cluster.
Julien Guellerin joined Iconik at the end of 2015 as a partner. He took over as Director of Communications and Crowd Sourcing. He was involved in the writing and making of Iconik content. Julien holds a master’s degree in journalism (specialising in information communications) but is best known to the public for his role in the web series NOOB (first French transmedia web series, received 80 million views) for which he also handled communications and directed the crowdfunding campaign. Olydri, his previous company, currently holds the European record for fundraising on Ulule (€680K).