How to bring life back to live

Animation of a neuron
A dramatic still from the animation of a neuron by Random42, which has worked with 23 out of the top 25 pharma companies

Random42, a pioneer in groundbreaking medical animation, is at Bio 18 to further expand its already significant share of the US marketplace

By Mike Cowley

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For a company named after a nod to chaos theory coupled with a reference to Douglas Adams’s seminal The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (where 42 is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything), one might be forgiven for assuming that medical animator Random42’s presence at Bio 2018 can be put down to chance.

But such an assumption would be mistaken, for there is nothing arbitrary about Random42’s decision to make an exhibition of itself in Boston. Rather, the company’s return to Bio 2018, following a brief hiatus after its initial display as part of the UK Trade and Investment pavilion, is part of a quite deliberate strategy to further expand its share of the American market, which is already its biggest.

As Ben Ramsbottom, Random42 CEO puts it: “We first exhibited here six years ago and found it a great place to meet with some of the smaller biotechs. We found that we were able to secure business more quickly than at some other conferences where the big players tend to dominate.

“Around 70% of our business is in the US – it is our biggest market by a considerable margin – and at Bio2018 we will be exhibiting our core offering of scientific animation, virtual reality, augmented reality and interactive products.

“Of these four offerings, we find that augmented reality, in particular, is generating a great deal of interest in the pharma sector at present with its applications in healthcare, both from a tablet perspective and for the next generation of headsets in the mixed reality space.”

Founded in 1992, when its primary focus was on creating animations for the pharmaceutical industry – Random42 has worked with no less than 23 of the top 25 pharma companies – last month this London-based studio added a Queen’s Award for International Trade for Outstanding Continuous Growth in overseas sales to an awards cabinet already groaning under the weight of 150 other accolades.

A pioneer of medical animation, being one of the first to develop animated sequences used to demonstrate the mechanism of action (MOA) of a drug or disease area, Random42 consists of scientists, artists, animators and programmers who collaborate to produce some of the most impactful and medically accurate scientific imagery, stories and interactive experience.

Its in-house team of PhD scientists lead every project, enabling clients to relay complex information that can be translated seamlessly into a deliverable that can elevate a product or disease area to a whole new level.

The company’s Augmented Reality (AR) apps use visual recognition technology, where users simply point their smart device at a tracker which activates an experience, such as, interactive animations, holograms, 3D models and games.

“Imagine bringing traditional marketing materials to life with digital content that is easily accessed by downloading an app, and simply scanning a page to activate content,” said Mr Ramsbottom.

“This could include disease education videos, pharmaceutical MOAs, interviews with scientists, tours of R&D facilities and showing how a new device or diagnostic equipment works.”

AR can be used in printed material such as product catalogues, brochures, flyers and business cards, and well as at congresses, conferences and exhibitions like Bio 2018 to bring banners or large backdrops to life with engaging content.

And the use of Virtual Reality headsets, such as the Oculus Rift or the Samsung Gear VR, has elevated Random42’s scientific storytelling to a new level. It can now lead people into its 3D film sets and take them on a ride inside the human body.

“Users feel like they are actually in the scene of one of our MOA medical animation, watching red blood cells float alongside them or following a signalling pathway into the nucleus,” said Mr Ramsbottom.

“Our storytelling format, combined with this state-of-the-art technology, gives users a detailed understanding of biological processes.”

Meanwhile, 3D technologies powering modern-day video games are leveraged to bring compelling experiences to mobile platforms such as iOS and Android.

“In our body explorer app, we combine high fidelity images of the human body with an intuitive multitouch interaction often seen today on tablet and smartphone devices,” said Mr Ramsbottom.

“It enables users to navigate around a transparent 3D human body, zoom in and out and view points of interest with information on various organs. Interactions such as swiping, tapping and pinching to zoom are integrated to maintain a sense of familiarity for new or inexperienced users.”

Over recent years Random42’s offering has expanded substantially, with the advent of tablets, large touchscreens, virtual reality headsets and fast broadband streaming enabling it to elevate its visual storytelling to a new level.

Ben Ramsbottom of Random42
Ben Ramsbottom of Random42 is substantially increasing the level of business the company does in the US

“We believe that our knowledge in this space is unparalleled, gaining a huge level of experience across almost all therapeutic areas through the digital assets we have created for over 550 global pharmaceutical products,” said Mr Ramsbottom.

“We have recently been worked extensively in the areas of consumer health, medical devices and diagnostics tests, as well as collaborating with the film industry to develop various documentaries that can be seen in IMAX theatres globally,” said Mr Ramsbottom.

“We operate in a dynamic market and have taken advantage of that to expand substantially the level of business we do in the US. We are positioned to grow rapidly over the next five years and beyond, being a world-leader in science education, both from a pharma perspective but also the broader research community but also university students and beyond. And we see a lot of value-add that we can provide in those areas; not just classic drug launches but real disease education.”

So, if you are in the pharma or biotech industry and in the market for cutting-edge and visually engaging digital solutions, don’t leave it to chance: make a beeline for Random42 at Booth 2920 at Bio 2018.