Project Info

Project Description

Birdly was born in 2013 as a Design Research project at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) in Switzerland. Max Rheiner, a media artist and the head of the Interaction Design master programm at ZHdK, led a team of design researchers and master students who worked on visionary concepts and early prototypes related to the dream of flying. Between fall 2013 and spring 2014 Max Rheiner, Fabian Troxler and Thomas Tobler created the first version of the ‘Birdly Prototype’.

Since summer 2014 different ‘Birdly Prototypes’ were shown in a series of high profile shows in the USA, Europe and Asia: for example at the Sundance Film Festival, at swissnex San Francisco and Bangalore or at SXSW 2015 in Austin, where Birdly was one of the four showcases demonstrating the power of Google Fiber. Other stops on the Birdly world-tour included the Museum of the Moving Image in New York, the Phi-Centre in Montreal and the ZKM in Karlsruhe.

In early 2015 Max Rheiner, Fabian Troxler and Thomas Tobler teamed up with Michel Zai (CEO) to found the company SOMNIACS – a university spin-off from the Zürich University of the Arts (ZHdK) – to handle the demand for Birdly related products, services and information, as well as deploying next generation virtual reality, augmented reality and interactive experiences. SOMNIACS remains closely linked to ZHdK, where several team members teach or conduct research. The collaboration enables both – ZHdK and SOMNIACS – to push the boundary of creative production in the emerging field of virtual/augmented reality in an independent, experimental and design driven environment. Max Rheiner (Founder and CTO of SOMNIACS) is the director of the ‘Interactive Experience Lab’ at ZHdK. The research lab and SOMNIACS work hand in hand to focus on cutting edge full-body immersion simulators and intuitive design for immersive telepresence.


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