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How Ubisoft La Forge Contributes to Climate Change Visualization

Yves Jacquier oversees innovation in various production departments at Ubisoft Montreal. Four years ago, he helped Ubisoft to take ownership of new technologies by creating La Forge, a space where external academics and Ubisoft team members gather to work on research projects and prototyping.

In early March, Jacquier was meant to attend UNESCO’s Mobile Learning Week, a United Nations flagship event on information and communication technology in education, to present Ubisoft La Forge’s model and its collaboration on the Visualizing Climate Change project led by Mila (Montreal’s Institute for Artificial Intelligence).

Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your role at Ubisoft?

I joined Ubisoft Montreal 16 years ago, and am currently heading the production services departments, which essentially consists of guiding innovation in these departments.

For example, to produce motion-capture data, our production pipelines must be as efficient as possible, but we need to keep exploring, and to test, integrate, and improve them to be ready for future productions. We’re always thinking of the future, making sure that we’ll still be leaders in cutting-edge technologies in five years.

Could you describe La Forge’s mission?

YJ: La Forge was created four years ago to accelerate research and development at Ubisoft. It’s a place where external academic researchers and Ubisoft team members work together on high-potential prototypes that serve both interests: for us, improve our games; for them, to enable scientific publications. We were the first in the gaming industry to develop such an R&D recipe, where researchers have access to all of Ubisoft’s technologies, including game engines and data, as well as the expertise of our specialists. And because of that, we discovered that not only were we able to work together to improve our games while creating public knowledge, we also contribute to solve real-world problems.

Do other companies have initiatives like La Forge?

YJ: La Forge was unique in the industry at the time it was founded and helped productions benefit from some useful technologies. Today, the Ubisoft La Forge formula has inspired other studios and industries, which is more evidence of our success!

Can you tell us more about some of La Forge’s projects in AI?

Today, the quality of AI in videogames is impressive, but there are also many disruptive AI applications outside of videogames. Most recent real-life innovations are supported by AI, for example autonomous vehicles, virtual assistants, or e-learning.

These are all possible now because one type of AI, namely machine learning, has made tremendous progress over the last five years.

What are some of the projects that La Forge has been involved in recently?

YJ: We worked with a technology called biometry to create models capable of easily predicting an individual’s cognitive charge, in order to get quantitative feedback on our players during playtests – for example, to see what breaks the “flow” when playing. The project resulted in many articles and prototypes that are used in Ubisoft Montreal’s User Research Lab.

Another project is a prototype called sound matching, developed two years ago, which consists of “automatically” animating the lips of characters based on their voices.

Ubisoft La Forge recently contributed to a project led by Mila (Montreal’s Institute for Artificial Intelligence) revolving around climate change awareness. Can you describe what this project is about?

The Visualizing Climate Change project aims to make climate change more concrete for everyone by using Google Street View to generate a “flooded” version of an individual's address. The concept is that you can enter your address and, if you live in a floodable zone, the application will generate a flooded image of your home and the street where you live in 2050 using sound scientific climate models.

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Jun 10, 2020 at 17:43

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