Member Spotlight: Morfus Mixed Reality

We caught up with Sean Huang, CEO and Co-founder of Morfus VR, to discuss his inspiration for Morfus, XR's disruption of the architectural industry and why portable VR is the future of Virtual Reality

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Tell us about yourself Sean - who are you and where does your company Morfus fit in the VR/AR industry?

I am the CEO and Co-founder of Morfus Mixed Reality, a Vancouver and Shanghai-based mobile VR company specialized in property technology. At Morfus, we convert any 2D or 3D design and model into a fully interactive mobile VR walkthrough for easy visualization and collaboration purposes between creatives.

Going off the question above, what problem are you trying to solve, and particularly within spatial and architectural design?

Each year architectural designs in all format of conceptual renderings or models are used to show clients what the finished building would look like even during the pre-planning stage. Yet, studies indicate that more than 65% of end users often find huge discrepancies between what is being shown before and what is actually being built after. This is due to the lack of visualization and immersion offered as client experience. Since few years back there has been a lot of companies out there in the VR space helping to tackle this problem by letting user walk through a space using PC based VR solutions such as VIVE, however these solutions are costly and users are stuck in a confined space with an expensive headset that needs to be powered by a strong PC unit. At Morfus we take this solution and deliver it on mobile where people can enjoy a live 3D walkthrough and use it as a collaboration tool without having to go out to buy a VIVE.

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Why and how did you come across VR/AR space? Tell us how you first got involved with the technology.

Morfus was started when I wanted to build my own company to stray away from the corporate sales environment. I was a sales manager working at Telus when I met my co-founder and CTO, Avetis, who worked under me during our B2B campaign. One morning on a coffee break we started talking VR after seeing an article featuring Google Daydream, after some thoughts, he proposed the idea of virtual reality as a good solution to real estate since real estate was always a hot topic. Since then I grouped together our other co-founder, Albert and the three of us had started out working on a mobile VR game as a test run while dabbling on some real estate VR solutions on mobile, primarily with using 360 to capture the interiors of houses. However, after researching the Vancouver landscape we found a lot of companies already doing this and more companies were rendering 3D models on PC based VR platforms so we felt focusing on conceptual designs would be more innovative and original especially on mobile.   

At that time coincidentally enough, my friend had purchased an empty lot in Vancouver and was working with contracted developers and architects to build up his ideal home. 

However at that time there were only the conventional floor plans and static renderings he could use to visualize the house as well as sending it to his wife, who was overseas in China. After the house was built they realized there was a huge discrepancy compared to the original designs and ended up spending more money and wasting time renovating and taking apart the walls. It was at this time that my co-founders and I decided to come up with a visualization tool using the power of VR and the accessibility of mobile. 

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What is your proudest work your team has produced so far?

Our proudest work is being able to develop an actual use case for mobile VR in terms of solving the problem of communication and response time between remote teams. Since finishing Chinaccelerator Batch 12 we have not only landed government backed projects but as well we have started engaging in bigger partnerships with city planning and infrastructure maintenance.  

As with any form of innovation in technology, VR/AR/MR is drawing more and more attention and investment due to its potential to make people’s lives better, more efficient, and smarter. Tell us how Morfus is leveraging immersive technology to achieve this.

At Morfus, we want to make this new technology as intuitive and accessible as possible. I feel mobile VR is often overlooked by AR and PC based VR platforms like HTC VIVE or the Rift (their standalone headset counterparts fall in the same category as well) as a "dumbed down" cousin but if we can take a step back and realize that being able to access VRARMR solutions on any smartphone is far more invaluable than creating a cool content on PC based VR. Given our team's sales background and knowing how to promote, sell, and execute a new product in a way that is very easy for people without prior VR knowledge to pick up is crucial to our success with our clients today.

Also, another proud moment we had was getting into top 18 companies out of 200 to present at TechCrunch's Shanghai Startup Competition semi-finals where it shows how a foreign company in VR can out-compete a lot of local companies in the same space, as well as being featured in Forbes China.

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Morfus has focused on working with clients to create immersive walkthrough experience. Is there a particular reason why you chose this area?

We chose this area simply because we have encountered spatial awareness problem among clients of architects, designers all the way to real estate developers. 

It’s interesting that you are focused on creating applications primarily for mobile VR use, due to its accessibility compared to VR headsets that require PC. Still, what we notice is that consumers are still learning about the technology and it’s a relatively new idea. What has been the biggest barrier of adoption you see even with mobile VR use? 

I feel the reason why this industry has yet to take off to hit critical mass is due to the majority of people out there seeing VR as a high-grade equipment that is both costly and troublesome, yet most companies out there in B2B focused sectors especially in architectural or real estate are not innovating in a way to help make VR more accessible and intuitive for people to adopt.

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What are your thoughts on VR/AR industry in Vancouver? How can companies, communities, institutions help to foster growth and adoption?

There are a lot of brilliant tech talents in Vancouver for VR/AR, however, compared to China the demographic of VR companies here are very behind in terms of making VR and AR very accessible to people that have no prior knowledge to VR. In China, you have companies pushing mobile plays for industrial use cases and advanced military simulations.  

 I feel the reason why this industry has yet to take off to hit critical mass is due to the majority of people out there seeing VR as a high-grade equipment that is both costly and troublesome, yet most companies out there in B2B focused sectors especially in architectural or real estate are not innovating in a way to help make VR more accessible and intuitive for people to adopt. I mean sure with PC based VR solutions you can generate better graphics than mobile but at the end of the day if we want to see VR/AR blow up we have to consider how to bridge the gap between industry professionals in the space with people that are illiterate in immersive technology. 

How companies or organizations here can foster growth is to partner up with foreign firms and recruit talents from other parts of the world, the VR/AR association does a fantastic job into creating a cross-border ecosystem to foster growth for this industry. 

As a member what do you wish people knew about VR/AR Association, especially in Vancouver?

To be very transparent I was reluctant to join at first since we were moving some of our operations to Shanghai but after being connected with Dan and people at the VR/AR association I would say for any VR/AR enthusiast whether you are in a startup or working for one to definitely consider joining. The community and support provided through VRAR Association have been great in terms of helping developers and industry professionals stay up to date on the latest VR/AR/MR trends as well as connecting people together. 

What can we expect from Morfus in the next year? 

Amazing things are coming in the next year! We will be announcing more stuff as we go along but now I can say for certain we have decided to expand into Asia as well as applying for a government-backed accelerator program in Dubai referred to us from a fellow batch company out of Chinaccelerator where we plan to work with the Dubai government on tackling technological challenges. 

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VR/AR Companies Need To Attract More Women. Here’s How They Can.

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VR Scout article written by Kate Wilson and Dan Burgar

With the industry growing hungry for female influence, women in VR has never been more important.

In the early nineties, a TV studio took a risk. Executives were casting for a character named Dana Scully: a supporting role, they envisioned, being played by a woman with the same physical attributes as Pamela Anderson. Despite that brief however, The X-Files producers ultimately chose actor Gillian Anderson. Turning Scully into a fierce, whip-smart medical doctor, the newcomer offered a portrayal of a female leader in STEM that was missing from mainstream pop culture.

The performer’s high profile allowed young women to imagine themselves in her position for the first time. Soon after, something unexpected happened. A few seasons into the show’s run, institutions saw a huge uptick in women’s enrollment in university technology and science courses. They dubbed the phenomenon the “Scully Effect”.

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It’s an experience that many want to see translated into the world of VR.

Like most areas of the tech industry, the sector is guilty of a gender imbalance. With individuals moving into the business from areas such as VFX and animation – traditionally male-skewing professions – VR and AR companies typically have more men than women on the payroll.

On top of that, organizations are often segregated by gender roles. While project management, HR, or marketing jobs might be handled by female employees, very few companies hire an equal number of male and female developers. As a result, women looking to move into technical positions in the industry lack visible role models.

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In the view of Joanna Popper, global head of virtual reality for location at HP, it’s vital that women become more observable in all areas of the VR industry.

“I support the principle of ‘see it, be it’,” she says. “It’s important to look at who’s getting quoted in articles, who’s getting the opportunities to step into executive jobs, who’s onstage at panels, and what part women play at every level of the company. When it’s possible to physically see women in high-ranking positions, it encourages more women to enter the industry.”

There are many reasons why VR companies should be trying to attract more female employees. For profit-driven directors, the most convincing is the impact on their bottom line. Numerous studies – most notably that published by McKinsey in 2015 – have revealed that hiring more women, and promoting them to leadership positions, correlates with significantly higher profits. Reports showthat having a diverse upper-level management leads to better decision-making, which allows companies to create better products, and shape a healthier culture.

By placing women in supervisory roles, companies can tap into a fresh pool of experiences. Marginalized groups – both women and people of colour – tend to see different problems, and can therefore solve alternative issues. Female-led company Vantage Point, for instance, provides sexual harassment training in VR, while businesses like Virtro create colourful games as an alternative to gory first-person shooters. Virtual reality is, quite literally, a technology that portrays different views. When companies create more varied teams, it opens up a bigger market share.

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Despite understanding how a gender-balanced office can improve their business, though, VR organizations are often slow to adopt tactics to boost their female representation. In the view of Amy Peck, founder and CEO of EndeavorVR, there are a few easy ways for companies to start.

“I live by a principle called ‘me plus three’,” she says. “I take a look around and identify the three women closest to me who I can move the needle for, and make a difference to their career. As each person participates, that three becomes 30, and that 30 becomes 300, and it grows exponentially from there. Both men and women can use the strategy, and it’s important that they do, because we need to galvanize together as a team. We’re all on the same side... Read the full VR Scout article here

Image Credit: VRScout / Amy Peck / Joanna Popper / Martina Welkhoff

Atheer sponsors the VR/AR Global Summit taking place Sept 21-22 in Vancouver

Register for the VR/AR Global Summit here 

 

Atheer is the pioneer of AiR™ (Augmented interactive Reality) Computing and the standard for AR in the enterprise.

Porsche Cars North America uses Atheer’s flagship AiR™ Enterprise augmented reality platform in its development of “Tech Live Look” and was able to reduce service resolution times in its dealerships by up to 40%. Read here

We decided to be a sponsor of the VR/AR Global Summit as a great way to share our experience in the exciting and fast-growing Enterprise Augmented Reality market with a global audience. We recognized it as an event to network with potential and current partners and customers, as well as demonstrate the power and capabilities of our own AR platform for enterprise. We also look forward to the opportunity of speaking at the event and getting insights from other leaders in the sector.
— Geof Wheelwright, Atheer

100 Companies already part of our NYC VR AR Ecosystem Report

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VRARA NYC Chapter is producing an industry report on the NYC VR AR ecosystem to promote NYC companies and organizations involved with immersive technologies and media. Would you be interested to have your company featured in this report or sponsor the report? If yes, then read on!

Given NYC is a metropolitan hub for national & international businesses, institutions, and organizations, this report will represent the brilliant minds all over the VR/AR ecosystem, from original content creators & creative distributors to innovative hardware companies to ambitious researchers.

The report will specifically highlight the following:

  • Size of the NYC market
  • Number of relevant companies in NYC
  • List of companies and company info (size: number of employees, revenue; vertical, customers)
  • Reasons why company is based in NYC
  • Needs and hopes from and for the NYC ecosystem

If you have any questions or are interested in being featured or sponsor, please reply to this email or email info@thevrara.com

A sample of the report's infographic and list of companies already included is shown below:

  • Brave New World
  • Brick Simple
  • Confideo Labs
  • Inception
  • Lampix
  • Media Combo
  • Nice Shoes
  • NKLS Media
  • Oblix
  • OffWorld Laboratories
  • Rutgers Prep
  • Saber VR
  • Sketchfab
  • SMACAR Solutions Inc.
  • StudioPath
  • ThirdEye
  • Touchstone Research
  • ViuSpace
  • VRSim

 

If you have any questions or are interested in being featured or sponsor, please reply to this email or email info@thevrara.com

VR/AR Global Summit Announces Presenting Sponsors

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The Summit brings together world leaders in the space of VR/AR/MR to discuss the present and future of immersive technologies.

VANCOUVER, CANADA (PRWEB) JUNE 20, 2018

Today the VR/AR Association (VRARA) announced their partnership with Shape Immersive and Victory Square Technologies as the Presenting Sponsors for the VR/AR Global Summit to be held in Vancouver Canada in September 2018. The VR/AR Global Summit brings together world leaders in the space of VR/AR/MR/XR to discuss the present and future of immersive technologies.

Shape Immersive is a new spatial data exchange startup incubated by Victory Square Technologies that aims to make spatial data universally accessible so anyone can create scalable and persistent AR/MR experiences. The startup is only four months old, but it had already demonstrated the world’s first and most spatially accurate multi-player MR experience at TED 2018 and Augmented World Expo.

“Vancouver is poised to become a leading international hub for VR/AR, and we can’t be more excited to partner with the VR/AR Global Summit,” said Alex Chuang, Co-founder and CEO of Shape Immersive. “In the next few years, advancement in immersive technologies will allow us to interact with digital information in a more natural and intuitive way. We're excited to support the growth of knowledge and partnerships for immersive technologies across all industry verticals."

Shape Immersive and Victory Square Technologies will also be hosting a Pitchfest at the Summit, featuring judges from The VR Fund, Women in XR Fund (WXR), GFR Fund and SuperVentures and more. The Pitchfest will take place on Friday, September 21, 2018 at the event, with a grand prize of USD $15,000. Submissions will open on June 26th, 2018.

The VR/AR Global Summit will take place from Sept 21-22, 2018 at the newly launched Parq Vancouver, a casino and entertainment complex in Vancouver Canada. The event will feature dynamic keynotes, collaborative conversations, workshops, creative hubs, demos, exhibits, breakouts and amazing VIP events. It will showcase the best, and most interesting projects, that the industry has to offer.

Speakers at the conference include representation from The Vatican, NASA, HTC Vive, IBM Watson, Amazon and more.

“Having the support from Shape Immersive and Victory Square Technology as a Presenting Sponsor of the VR/AR Global Summit is truly an honor, and is helping to bring together a global community of some of the brightest minds in the VR and AR industry, as well as some of the leading brands utilizing VR and AR technologies,” said Nathan Pettyjohn, President of the VR/AR Association.

The Vancouver VR/AR/MR Ecosystem is the second largest in the world, with over 200 companies that are documented working in this technology. Other great Cascadia sponsors for the Summit include Microsoft, YDreams Global, Atheer, Blueprint Reality, LlamaZoo, and many others.

The VR/AR Global Summit will take place September 21-22, 2018 in Vancouver Canada.

For press inquiries or for more information please visit the website at http://www.thevrara.com/vr-ar-global-summit

To get involved in the Summit, please contact Anne-Marie Enns, Executive Producer at am@thevrara.com

 

About Shape Immersive

Shape Immersive is building a decentralized marketplace that will make geospatial data universally accessible so that anyone can create scalable, persistent and multi-user Augmented Reality experiences. By using blockchain technology, Shape Immersive aims to build an open and meritocratic network that empowers a distributed workforce to provide and validate geospatial data.

About VR/AR Association

The VR/AR Association (VRARA) is an international organization designed to foster collaboration between innovative companies and people in the VR and AR ecosystem that accelerates growth, fosters research and education, helps develop industry standards, connects member organizations and promotes the services of member companies.

Atheer AR Insights: Enterprise Q&A with Kris Kolo, VRARA

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AR Insights: Kris Kolo, Global Executive Director of the VR/AR Association

Our AR Insights interview this month is with Kris Kolo, Global Executive Director of the VR/AR Association, an international organization of more than 4000 companies and 20,0000 individuals. It is designed to "foster collaboration between companies and people in the VR and AR ecosystem that accelerates growth, fosters research and education, helps develop industry standards, and connects and promotes member organizations". 

In this role, Kris has worked with organizations across the AR and VR sectors and has some unique perspectives to offer on the direction of these vital technologies - and how they are being applied in both the consumer and enterprise markets.

Prior to the VR/AR Association, Kris was in the business of working with AR and VR in commercial settings, as an entrepreneur, author and patent-holder. He was an executive at Verizon and Toys R Us, applying AR technology to common use cases. At Toys R Us, he worked on digital in-store initiatives and shopping solutions, incorporating AR from Metaio (acquired by Apple). 

At Verizon, Kris was responsible for Media, Entertainment, and Location-Based apps & platforms; Kris was collaborating with Wikitude to integrate AR into Verizon's GPS Navigation.

He also launched the Verizon Developer Program.  In addition, Kris was an Advisor, Board Member, to FlyBy Media, an AR tech startup, acquired by Apple. As an entrepreneur, Kris was the Co-Founder of Spime Inc, a Silicon Valley GPS startup acquired by Trimble.  Kris holds graduate degrees from MIT. Here are his thoughts on Augmented Reality for the enterprise.

Q) As you look back on the last three years and the massive growth you have seen in the VR/AR Association, what’s been the most significant development you have observed in the evolution of augmented reality business for enterprises - in terms of use cases, adoption, new entrants/exits from the market or industries?

A) Big companies like UPS, DHL, Boeing, and Walmart to name a few, are using the technology and solutions for making work / employees more effective (less errors, better training), resulting in lower costs and better customer service. For example, in our VRARA Virtual & Augmented Reality for Business White Paper we note that ‘digitizing your training with VR also unlocks complete session recordings & training data. Completion rates, behavioral patterns, and even compliance metrics may be surfaced using analysis tools built for virtual reality.’(p7)

Q) When I look at your member list – and the range of countries from which they hail – it looks like VR and AR development is growing massively around the world. Are there locations – or applications – in any region that surprise you? Are there trends you’re seeing in terms of which kinds of development are taking place in which countries?

A) Vancouver keeps surprising us as one of our most active chapters and the government just invested $1B CAD - most of which will go to VR/AR. With that said, all of our global chapters have impacted growth in the industry which is why created a chapter for that location.

Q) There’s a lot of industry analysis which suggests that 2018 will be the year in which a lot of enterprise customers conduct pilots and trials of Augmented Reality – and that 2019 and 2020 will be the years in which we’ll start to see widespread adoption, as companies see clear evidence (both from their own pilots and those of their competitors) of the value they are seeing. Does that fit with what you are seeing?

A) Yes - again in our Business White Paper, we acknowledge that ‘much like the beginning of the internet, early adopters will be ahead of the game, and complacent companies may find themselves left behind. Companies that are on the fence about immersive technology should begin with a reasonable investment into discovery and proof of concepts.’(p9) VR/AR pilot adoption is happening and companies are getting valuable data and process information for what works and what does not for scale opportunities.

Q) Based on your extensive knowledge of the sector, what is the biggest barrier to adoption of AR technology by enterprise customers – and how has that changed in the last few years?

A) Cost of hardware and custom solutions are the usual suspects for barrier to entry. However, with every proven use case and new solution being rolled out, the costs are both manageable and coming down. Depending on the requirements of any product, VR/AR technology solutions more than meet the ‘right fit’ for investment in enterprise as well as other sectors.

Q) AR capabilities are being added to iOS and Android phones and tablets (through ARkit and ARcore, respectively). What impact do you think that the existence of some of the many smartphones and tablets with at least basic AR capabilities will have on the development of AR applications for enterprises? Do you see a future where perhaps apps will scale from basic versions on a smartphone to more full-blown offerings on AR headsets?

A) We are already seeing an impact. For example, Bosch has an AR repair system where the user holds the phone or tablet over a car engine and it walks you through the repair process. Another example, is the company Relay Cars that has a VR sales tool; ‘which allows car manufacturers to choose their own environment and showcase their vehicles in a unique way without having to pay for development of their own discreet application.’(p13) Moreover, if the business case makes sense, then yes, apps will scale depending on their target industry.

Q) Do you see a shaking out of standards for interaction - such as touch, gestures, voice and head motion - for AR devices? These features are being introduced on lots of devices right now, but it seems likely that - at some point in the not too distant future - there will be a user-driven need to coalesce around some standards for interaction. What do you think?

A) At the moment standards are being solidified on a high level for development. From a user perspective, standards around interaction are always in flux because the technology is rapidly developing. Still, all interaction should consider the user first, second and foremost in the development process. If your user is not happy, then you have a fail - plain and simple.

Source

XR's Road To $61 Billion

This post is adapted from ARtillry’s latest Intelligence Briefing, XR Global Revenue Forecast 2017-2022. It includes some of its data and takeaways, including original market sizing and forecasting. Subscribe to ARtillry Insights for the full report. 

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Many AR and VR (a.k.a. XR) stakeholders claim that their market sizes will be massive. But how big are they, and how big will they realistically get? ARtillry Intelligence has quantified these sectors and their moving parts in precise terms. The result is our latest XR revenue forecast.

At a high level, we project global XR revenue to grow from $4.2 billion last year to $61 billion by 2022. That consists of AR, VR and the enterprise and consumer segments of each. That includes lots of moving parts, which all come together in an extensive financial model.

One common thread among these sub-sectors is that there will be a tipping point for both adoption and monetization in the 2019-2020 time frame. After that point, growth will accelerate and get over the consumer and enterprise adoption humps that persist today.

Breaking down the sub-sectors and their drivers, enterprise AR will hold the largest share of revenue in the outer years of our forecast. Scale will result from wide applicability across enterprise verticals; and a form factor that supports all-day use and clear ROI.

Adoption is currently dampened by organizational inertia, enterprise risk aversion and sales cycles. These factors will continue to stunt enterprise AR growth but will be outweighed eventually (2020) by the momentum, support and ROI realizations that are currently building.

Consumer AR will be the second largest revenue driver. Near term revenues will be mobile and software-centric (mobile device sales aren’t counted as XR revenue). That includes premium apps and in-app purchases — mostly the latter as validated by Pokemon Go and others.

Consumer VR takes the third spot for revenue in outer years, and be hardware-dominant in the near term as an installed base is established. Over time, software (apps & games) revenue will gain share, built on that installed base and benefiting from faster refresh cycles than hardware.

And the headline within consumer VR is standalone headsets like Oculus Go. At a $199, it hits a sweet spot for quality and affordability, and we project it to reach unit sales of 1.3 million this year. Given a gift-able price point, the 2018 holiday quarter will be a “moment of truth” for Go.

Lastly, enterprise VR takes the final spot among XR sub-sectors. VR will be stronger as a consumer play due to relative shortcomings in the enterprise like isolation, which inhibits industrial job functions. However, it will find value in areas like training and data visualization.

There are lots of other moving parts and inclusions within the above categories, such as XR advertising (included in enterprise AR & VR) and Location Based VR. It’s all broken down in the full report which you can preview here, including details on what’s included and not included.

And we’ll be revisiting excerpts and nuggets from the full report in the coming weeks as we unpack and analyze forecast components. There are lots of individual areas within the XR universe that are ripe for strategic takeaways and value creation. There will be a lot to discuss.

Preview more of the report here and subscribe to ARtillry Insights to access the whole thing.

HumanEyes Technologies Sponsors the VR/AR Global Summit

Register for the VR/AR Global Summit here 

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Founded in 2000, HumanEyes is a team of veterans in the 3D and animated content creation, display and processing and a pioneer of the lenticular printing solutions for the Graphic Arts industry. With over 70 patents in various fields of 3D and photographic 3D, we have become experts in VR and computer vision. We believe Virtual Reality will become a major communication platform and Humaneyes will be a leading player in its VR ecosystem.

The VR/AR Global Summit may well be the catalyst the industry needs to accelerate and monetize this next phase of immersive and interactive technologies. Humaneyes Technologies has elected to not only attend but also sponsor the event, capitalizing on networking, collaboration, teaching and learning opportunities from the industry’s brightest minds.
— Jim Malcolm, GM, HumanEyes Technologies (Vuze)

Register for the VR/AR Global Summit here 

La Camila: VR Animation for Cinemas & Arcades

 
 
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Jak Wilmot is a storyteller based out of Atlanta, Georgia and co-founder of VR studio, Disrupt! He loves film, games, & coffee. His newly released VR experience, La Camila, is available for Vive & Oculus. He joins VRARA's Storyteller Davar Ardalan to talk about animation techniques in VR and why his focus is on distributing at cinemas and arcades versus digital sales.

 

1) How did you get into VR?

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Throughout high school I dabbled in 3D animation, releasing short films on YouTube and experimenting with game-based storytelling. So when the current gen VR headsets were released, it was a medium that felt like the perfect mixture of gaming, storytelling, and animation. From there, my business partner Jordan and I combined talents to create Atlanta's first VR animation studio, Disrupt.

 

2) Tell us more about La Camila, based on Coelho's The Alchemist.

So La Camila was born out of a late night reading of Coelho's The Alchemist. I was captured by the concepts discussed in the book: finding one's path, working with the world around you, keeping balance in the face of chaos. The goal was to create a world that deals with those heavy themes, while also remaining lighthearted with goofy sheep & a father/daughter story.

 

3) What engagement sensibilities come with VR animation

I'd say I'm still figuring engagement out. It's a balance between keeping the viewer focused on your characters but also providing pathways that they can discover on their own. For example, I don't explicitly say what has happened to Camila's mother; however, if you physically move into her father's room, you can see a family portrait.

 

4) How are you monetizing your work in VR?

With the headset user base being objectively small, we've focused on distributing via location-based VR cinemas & arcades, rather than digital sales.
 

5) Where do you see the industry heading in the next 2 years?

My hope is that AR/VR HMD's will be designed to look more appealing. The tech is there, but until a teenager wants to wear one in public, it will still be a niche device. For instance, my generation didn't carry around blackberry even though it was more capable than a flip phone. Only until the iPhone rolled around mixing style with tech would you see them in the lunchroom.

 

Davar Ardalan is the founder and storyteller in chief of IVOW, an AI-powered storytelling agency, and Stanford Affiliate. Ardalan is also the Co-Chair of the the Storytelling Committee of the VR/AR Association and has been recognized with a 2017 NASA Team Leadership award for Space Apps, a Gracie Award from the American Women in Radio and Television and a shout-out in the popular comic strip Zippy.





 

Davar Ardalan

VRARA | Co-Chair, Storytelling Committee

IVOW | founder and storyteller in chief

www.ivow.ai  l Twitter @idavar

YDreams Global Sponsors the VR/AR Global Summit

Register for the VR/AR Global Summit here 

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About YDreams Global

YDreams Global Interactive Technologies Inc. (www.ydreamsglobal.com) is a technology company with offices in Vancouver, Dubai, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, that combines VR and AR Technology, Design and Intelligence to respond to the challenges and demands of today's users and consumers.

YDreams Global works as a partner for companies and brands to reframe their strategy through relevant human-centered ventures that integrates digital experience with the physical presence and venues. YDreams Global anticipates future challenges and connects them with the needs of the market, building innovative concepts and delivering them with international excellence.

YDreams Global have developed over 1,000 projects for clients all over the world, such as Disney, NBA, Adidas, Cisco, Nokia, Nike, Mercedes Benz, Coca-Cola, Santander, AmBev, Qualcomm, Unilever, City of Rio and Fiat.

Why did we Sponsor the VR/AR Global Summit

YDreams Global was received by the city of Vancouver and the VRARA Vancouver Chapter with open arms. We instantly felt part of a community, of a hub and it has been not only extremely helpful but we now feel part of a movement that is molding a new industry.

Being a sponsor of the VR/AR Global Summit and an active member of the VR/AR Association represents to us a chance to give back and the opportunity to welcome outside companies the same way we were received to create connections with different hubs with the goal to find complementary views and experiences.

We are looking forward to this Summit and believe that this will become the most meaningful event for the VR and AR industry.
— Daniel Japiassu, CEO, YDreams Global

New Report: AR’s Future Hinges on an ‘Internet of Places’

This post is adapted from ARtillry’s latest Intelligence Briefing, AR Cloud and the ‘Internet of Places.’ It includes some of its data and takeaways, including original survey research. Subscribe to ARtillry Insights for the full report. 

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It’s often forgotten that about $3.7 trillion is spent in consumer retail purchases in the U.S.. Of that, $300 billion (8 percent) is spent in e-commerce. This means that offline brick & mortar spending – though often overshadowed by its sexier online counterpart – is where the true scale occurs.

But digital media like mobile search is still impactful. Though spending happens predominantly offline, it’s increasingly influenced online. Specifically $1.7 trillion (46 percent of that $3.7 billion) is driven through online and mobile media. This is known as online-to-offline (O2O) commerce.

O2O is one area where AR will find a home. Just think: is there any better technology to unlock O2O commerce than one that literally melds physical and digital worlds? AR can shorten gaps in time and space that currently separate those interactions (e.g. search) from offline outcomes.

We’re talking contextual information on items you point your phone at. AR overlays could help you decide where to eat, which television to buy, and where to buy the shoes you see worn on the street. This is what ARtillry Intelligence calls “Local AR,” and it will take many forms.

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Visual Search

One of the first formats where Local AR will manifest is visual search. If you think about it, AR in some ways is a form of search. But instead of typing or tapping search queries in the traditional way, the search input is your phone’s camera and the search “terms” are physical objects.

This analogy applies to many forms of search, but is particularly fitting to local. Traditional (typed) local search performs best when consumers are out of home, using their smartphones. This is when “buying intent” is highest, and when click-through-rates and other metrics are highest.

Furthermore, proximity-based visual searches through an AR interface could gain traction if our recent consumer survey research is any indication. Among the categories and types of AR apps that consumers want, city guides, in-store retail and commerce apps showed strong demand.

These proximity-based searches are conducive to AR because the phone is near the subject (think: a restaurant you walk by), and can therefore derive information and context after mapping it visually. This really just makes it an evolution of a search query… but done with the camera.

“A lot of the future of search is going to be about pictures instead of keywords,” Pinterest CEO Ben Silberman said recently. His claim triangulates several trends: millennials’ heavy camera use, mobile hardware evolution, and AR software (such as ARkit) that further empowers that hardware.

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The Internet of Places

These are some reasons why Google is keen on AR. As is common to its XR initiatives, Google’s AR efforts are driven to advance its core business. In other words, to continue dominating and deriving revenue from search, it must establish a place in this next visual iteration of the medium.

“Think of the things that are core to Google, like search and maps,” said Google XR Partnership Lead Aaron Luber. “These are core things we are monetizing today and see added ways we can use [AR]. All the ways we monetize today will be ways that we think about monetizing with AR.”

For example, a key search metric is query volume (along with cost-per-click, click-through-rate and fill rates). Visual search lets Google capture more “queries” when consumers want info. And these out-of-home moments, again, are “high intent” when monetization potential is greatest.

These aspirations will manifest initially in Google Lens. Using Google’s vast image database and knowledge graph, Lens will identify and provide information about objects you point your phone at. For example, point your phone at a store or restaurant to get business details overlaid graphically.

This can all be thought of as an extension to Google’s mission statement to “organize the world’s information.” But instead of a search index and typed queries, local AR delivers information “in situ” (where an item is). And instead of a web index, this works towards an “Internet of places.”

But before we get too carried away in blue-sky visions – as is often done in XR industry rhetoric, trade shows and YouTube clips – it’s important to acknowledge realistic challenges. There are several interlocking pieces including hardware, software and most importantly… the AR Cloud.

Subscribe to ARtillry Insights to access the full report.

You can now Order the HoloSuit on Kickstarter!

Kickstarter page

HoloSuit is the world’s first affordable, bi-directional, wireless and easy to use full body motion capture suit. With options for 26 or 36 embedded sensors and 9 haptic exciters dispersed across both arms, legs and all ten fingers combined with 6 embedded buttons - HoloSuit captures the user’s entire body’s movement data and uses haptic feed back to send information back to the user, for scenarios including sports, healthcare, education, entertainment or industrial operations.

HoloSuit was showcased to the public for the first time at AWE 2018. In addition, the company has initiated Kickstarter and Catapooolt campaigns to jumpstart mass production of the HoloSuit smart clothing products.

HoloSuit brings VR/AR/MR to the mainstream by providing a clean and natural interface with no learning - how your body moves in 3D space to control your interaction with VR/MR/AR devices by being able to: 

  1. point to far away things, 
  2. touch nearby things and 
  3. feel them through haptic feedback. 

This is similar to how iPhone brought smart phone to the mainstream by digitizing your fingers, HoloSuit is just extending when iPhone did with fingers for 2D surfaces to your entire body for 3D spaces (real or virtual).

So any help we can get in trying to spread the word on HoloSuit will help drive the whole XR ecosystem. Look forward to your support in that.

How to Order

You can buy HoloSuit Jacket, Pant or Gloves a la carte or an entire suit on Kickstarter or Catapooolt.

 

HoloSuit in the News

Holosuit is a game changing technology that uses haptic feedback to let  people truly enter the VR world for gaming and sports while allowing training for situations like medical and military - Forbes.com

The HoloSuit haptic suit, available on Kickstarter - realovirtual.com

36 (sensors) should make for some pretty incredible precision. - Wareable

HoloSuit Offers Full Body Motion Tracking With Haptic Feedback -geeky-gadgets.com

Kaayatech showcased its groundbreaking HoloSuit motion-capture suit, allowing users to fully immerse themselves - eweek.com

New Holosuit Strives to Up Your Golf Game - vrfitnessinsider

Kaaya Tech’s HoloSuit MoCap System Features Haptic Feedback For Training Simulations - Tom's Hardware

A Holosuit To Upgrade Your Golf Game - WearableSportsWearable.net

Wearable tech helps golfers master game- cbts.com

MIXED REALITY HOLOSUIT COULD ENHANCE FITNESS TRAINING, GOLF GAMING - thestadiumbuisness.com

HoloSuit Saber Mixed Reality Game - coming soon on Kickstarter- thevrperformance.com

Full-Body Motion Controller HoloSuit Coming Soon to Kickstarter - photo-digital-electronic.com

Mixed Reality HoloSuit Could Enhance Fitness Coaching, Golf Gaming- dizisports.com

HoloSuit Sensors Positions

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HOLOSUIT JACKET
1)Right Elbow 2)Left Elbow 3)Left Wrist 4)Right Wrist 5)Shoulder Center 6)Spine Base 26)Head 35)Shoulder Left 36)Shoulder Right
 

HOLOSUIT PANT
11)Left Thigh 8)Right Thigh 10)Left Calf 7)Right Calf 9)Lower Back 24)Left Foot 25)Right Foot
 

HOLOSUIT RIGHT GLOVES
17)Dorsal Hand 12)Thumb End 13)Index finger End 14)Middle Finger End 15)Ring Finger End 16)Little Finger End 27)Index finger Start 14)Middle Finger Start 29)Ring Finger Start 30)Little Finger Start
 

HOLOSUIT LEFT GLOVES
18)Dorsal Hand 23)Thumb End 22)Index finger End 21)Middle Finger End 20)Ring Finger End 19)Little Finger End 34)Index finger Start 33)Middle Finger Start 32)Ring Finger Start 31)Little Finger Start

HoloSuit Haptic Position

HOLOSUIT JACKET
1)Right Elbow 2)Left Elbow 3)Heart 4) Back Center
HOLOSUIT PANT
5)Left Thigh 6)Right Thigh 7)Lower back center
HOLOSUIT LEFT GLOVES
8)Frontal Hand center
HOLOSUIT RIGHT GLOVES
9) Frontal Hand center

HoloSuit Features 

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The complete set consists of 36 motion tracking sensors, which we have tweaked it into tracking not only your motion but the raw data such as angle, acceleration and force.
 

The HoloSuit compromises of 9 haptic exciters which will allow you to feel actions and bring out a whole new level of immersion. It is Wi-Fi enabled allows remote collaboration with any person around the world through it. Supports all Augmented, Virtual, Mixed Reality devices using Wifi so the user can experience the thrill of the virtual worlds without any constraints. It has Cloud syncing feature that allows the user to back up their saved data in the cloud as backup and share them to other people to view as 360 degree videos with full body analytics and ability to zoom, pan, tilt, analyze joint angles and forces etc.
 

Holosuit captures your entire body motion including fingers, head and foot and can transfer it to an avatar or robot in real-time. This allows humans to operate humanoid robots leveraging the same tools which are built for humans in fire fighting, nuclear disaster, hostage rescue situations. Holosuit Pants with foot extension enables the robots to even climb stairs. Holosuit comes with options for 26 or 36 embedded sensors and nine haptic exciters distributed across both arms, legs, and all ten fingers combined with six embedded buttons.

5G Can Reinvent Ecommerce With VR and AR

By Roslyn Layton

It’s easy for consumers to shop online for products and services they already know, but much commerce is still offline because people want to “try before they buy.” New technologies have emerged to close the gap, but whether consumers will be able to enjoy them depends on public policy.

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are two of the technologies which can become mainstream, extending beyond just video games, with the advent of 5G, or fifth-generation mobile networks. 5G offers speeds 10 times the current 4G with more throughput and essentially no latency, or lag time. As 5G becomes more pervasive, the technologies like AR and VR will be democratized.

While many are familiar with AR and VR from the gaming experience, these technologies can help make products on a screen more real with images that can be rotated, enlarged, and experienced interactively. By holding up the phone’s camera for example, AR superimposes the desired product into the user’s view.  VR personalizes the experience for the viewer, for example, by simulating a road trip so a person can buy a car without leaving home. AkzoNobel's award-winning Visualizer mobile app, downloaded some 20 million times, allows users to virtually paint living spaces in chosen colors and gives customers the freedom to experiment with colors and make confident choices before purchasing the paint.

Ecommerce could become the top industry for VR/AR applications. The retail industry already spends over $1 billion annually on VR/AR solutions, growing by 240% according to the VR/AR Association.  Industry experts, like Eric Prince of Cimmerse – a startup enabling this technology for online sales of fashion, luxury goods, home décor, and fine art, are eager for 5G because of increased speeds and capacity for more information. This translates into larger augmented and virtual reality scenes, helping retailers to offer their customers a more compelling visual experience and hence close the sale.

Prince describes how 5G would work for his clients, “Imagine a product like a full-size couch in hyper detail that you can place in your room. With 5G, we will be able to provide the couch, the room and everything in it, toss in a realistic human avatar with artificial intelligence that walks into the scene and helps end user with any information needed to complete the purchase.” The VR/AR Association’s 5G Committee notes that this experience “cannot happen unless the networks that will have to support these applications can deliver the required performance, [e.g.] latency on the order of several milliseconds.”

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The US generates most AR/VR revenue today, but long term economics could favor China. The Chinese Alibaba and Tencent have made massive investments in AR/VR and are in striking range of Amazon. China is well-positioned for its Asian neighbors to adopt its platforms, and the region could account for half of all global AR/VR revenue in just 5 years, according to AR/VR analyst Tim Merel. The country that wins on platforms has a lot to do with which is first to deploy generation networks, and a slowdown in 5G deployment could harm American firms.

The US was the global leader in investment and innovation in 4G mobile networks and technologies, but China now has the edge with 5G. The US fell behind because of many missteps over the last decade, particularly in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) failing to fill the spectrum pipeline and imposing a series of misguided internet regulations which caused network investment to fall by $1 billion consecutively between 2014 to 2016.

Fortunately, the current leaders at the FCC corrected those errors in 2017, clearing the way for the US to take the lead in 5G with policies to streamline infrastructure deployment and make more spectrum available, specifically in the 3.7 GHz band later this year. These are incremental steps toward encouraging 5G deployment to help the U.S. catch up to China, but the FCC must push forward with policies that make it easier to deploy the next generation of networks nationwide by streamlining regulatory and policy frameworks that inhibit buildout. With leadership at the federal level, states and cities can follow suit and embrace new technologies that improve people’s lives and stimulate growth.

For the EU, it may be too late to come back. While it once created the leading wireless technologies and devices, the EU regulated away incentives to invest and innovate, causing their leadership in investment to plummet and erasing the foundation of mobile R&D in the region. The EU continues to discourage innovation with the heavy-handed General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), so onerous that many companies have stopped serving the EU altogether and consumers shop less online. The U.S. should not follow this misguided path, but instead allow consumers to try new applications, technologies to compete, and the economy to flourish.

The FCC has taken steps to enact policies to streamline wireless infrastructure rollout and unlock spectrum at the federal level.  Now states and municipalities must do their part to encourage investment. This matters for retailers because the US and China are in a race for the preeminence of ecommerce platforms and applications. If US app providers don’t get 5G networks fast, there won’t be a second chance to win.

Source

VR AR Training Interim Survey Results

The VRARA Training Committee are conducting an initial industry survey to capture the industrial landscape for one of the major use cases for Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality – namely training and development of employees. The survey is still open for respondents, so if you haven’t taken the survey yet then please do so by following this link. It’ll only take 5-10 minutes of your time and provide valuable insight into how VR, AR and MR is becoming an integral part of industry-based training.

A number of interesting trends are emerging from the survey responses received to date. In this article we’ll focus on two of the survey questions that demonstrate these early trends within the respondent’s answers.

 

What sorts of activity do you think will most benefit from VR/AR/MR training? (Check all that apply)

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Clearly the early survey respondents feel that manual skills and mechanical/industrial operations will especially benefit from VR/AR/MR based training, with the realistic simulation capability of VR and the interactive real-time guidance provided by AR/MR being particularly relevant. However, although process-driven activities scored particularly highly on this question, creative activities such as art and precision crafts also feature strongly, indicating that VR/AR/MR based training does have a role in activities that are not necessarily driven by process and compliance.
 

What are weaknesses of VR/AR/MR for training? (Check all that apply)

Screen Shot 2018-06-04 at 2.31.59 PM.png

Understanding where the perceived weaknesses or deficiencies lie in current forms of VR/AR/MR training is key to addressing those issues in future versions of the training technologies. Clearly the early survey respondents feel that cost is still the major barrier to introducing or increasing the use of VR/AR/MR within training programs. Reduction in headset costs and innovative business models around content access should help to address this. Availability of the technology has also been highlighted as an obvious weakness, suggesting that hardware providers should consider future manufacturing and distribution processes and software providers should consider subscription and distribution models beyond the “app store” format. Resistance to chance is also highlighted as an issue, suggesting that the efforts of the VRARA Training Committee in evangelizing and promoting VR/AR/MR training are still well-placed!

The survey will remain open for a few weeks so, if you haven’t had the opportunity to capture your thoughts and opinions on VR/AR/MR training then please follow this link. A fuller article or whitepaper on the complete set of survey results is planned, so keep a lookout for that in the near future!

Email info@thevrara.com with any questions. 

Vancouver Is Now One Of The Largest VR AR Hubs In The World with over 200 Companies

Register for the VR/AR Global Summit here 

By Kate WilsonDan Burgar

 

XR companies based in Vancouver have skyrocketed from 15 to 200 in just three short years.  

A lot has changed in the XR industry since 2017. In teaching hospitals, brain scans have transformed into dynamic, moving holograms. Apps now let individuals walk around the homes of their loved ones without stepping outside their door. Home décor items can appear, life-sized, in a person’s living room at a touch of a screen, before being delivered to their doorstep.

All of those concepts have been developed in one year –  in one city.

Vancouver is one of the fastest growing VR, AR, and MR hubs in the world. Nestled under fir tree-covered mountains and bordered by beaches, the city’s urban center boasts businesses that are transforming industries, creating immersive stories, and defining the next wave of computing.

Its expansion is staggering. Just three years ago, Vancouver hosted around 15 XR companies. Now, there are over 200.

VRARA Vancouver ecosystem.jpg

There’s more than one reason why the city is exploding with talent. In 1977, Vancouver established itself as a top-flight filming destination, earning the nickname “Hollywood North.” Animators and VFX professionals flocked to the area, helping it to become the third largest film and TV production centre in North America. That expertise led to cross-pollination. Electronic Arts (EA) opened its Canadian arm in the Metro Vancouver area in the early ‘80s, inspiring a raft of world-class games and mobile entertainment businesses. Now, those professionals are moving to XR.

Since last year, the composition of the Vancouver VR, AR, and MR ecosystem has developed dramatically. The city has always shown a strength in creating enterprise, architecture, and data visualization solutions. Over the past 12 months, the number of companies offering those services has almost doubled.

That’s due in a large part to the “collaborative spirit” of Vancouver that sets its ecosystem apart. Last September, two centres – Axiom Zen and Launch Academy – were the sole incubating organizations within the city. This year, seven more hubs have been created to nurture local XR talent. Developments like these have helped the industry grow by 54 percent since 2017.

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As well as the scores of new startups opening their doors in 2018, the local ecosystem has seen victories from more mature companies. Finger Food Studios, an XR organization whose clients and partners include Microsoft, Hootsuite, and Cirque du Soleil, was integral in securing $1.4 billion in government funding to boost Vancouver’s digital technology. The Vancouver Virtual Reality Film Festival (YVRFF) – the only dedicated VR film festival in the world – launched its second annual event to much acclaim, while five of the city’s largest XR companies including Archiact and Motive.io were invited to speak at SXSW festival on the rise of VR and AR in Vancouver.

“XR in this city is growing quicker than anyone expected,” says Dan Burgar, president of the Vancouver branch of the VR/AR Association, an organization that connects companies working in the sector across the globe. “Five years ago, the industry was non-existent in Vancouver. Now, with our talent pool and proximity to San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland, there’s been a huge uptick in business-to-business development. We’re one of the best places in the world to set up an XR company, and it’s only going to get bigger from here.”

With so many new companies joining the fray every month, it can be hard to keep track of the innovation. Monitoring the growth of the community, the Vancouver chapter of the VR/AR Association – in partnership with the Vancouver Economic Commission, Gowling WLG, and CreativeBC – has created a comprehensive infographic to visualize the ecosystem.

As businesses increasingly choose Vancouver as their home, it’s easy to see how the city has grown to become what could very well be the second largest XR cluster in the world.

Source: VRScout 

 

Register for the VR/AR Global Summit here 

Airlines add VR entertainment for passengers to enjoy, explore, and relax

Join our UAE Chapter here

Join our Aerospace Committee here

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In early 2015, the Australian flag carrier Qantas Airways, in partnership with Samsung, brought Virtual Reality (VR) to its first-class cabins and lounges. This event — which was the first of its kind in the industry back then — enabled  the passengers to land on Hamilton Island, dive the Great Barrier Reef, and climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge; all while sitting in  their seats comfortably.

Three years ago, that was a head-turning experience; but nowadays, airline companies are fiercely competing against each other to further distinguish themselves in their use of the latest technological breakthroughs including VR, as incorporating new tech to enhance the passengers’ experience has become a must. It has turned into a service that goes beyond onboard entertainment options to accompany the passengers in their journey right from the very beginning until their arrival in the flight’s waiting lounge.

According to Shujat Mirza, UAE Chapter president at the global industry association for Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality Association (VRARA) that connects solution providers with brands and customers, VR is a game changer. “It is not only changing the way we will consume content, but it also allows us to interact with this world better,” he said in an interview with Wamda.

Examples from around the world

Aiming to generate higher footfall and boost their sales, airlines around the planet have spared no effort to take full advantage of the best of VR. In early 2017, Lufthansa passengers were offered the opportunity to try out the innovative Avegant Glyph video glasses in the Business Lounge. “Entertainment electronics play an important role in travel. We have selected an impressive innovation from the incredible amount of new products available. Our guests can try these out informally and in a relaxed atmosphere,” said Dr. Torsten Wingenter, senior director digital innovations at Lufthansa. The carrier has also tried a creative way to sell upgrades to Premium Economy passengers at the departure gate. By inviting passengers to put on VR glasses and texamine, via a 360-degree view, how the Premium Economy seat and cabin look, Lufthansa hoped that the passengers who had booked in Economy class would consider purchasing an upgrade. Those who decided to upgrade their seats were able to pay the surcharge directly at the gate. According to what Lufthansa reports, it has already achieved considerable success in upgrading passengers to Premium Economy using VR in the U.S.

Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) has also adopted a similar approach. By putting on the KLM’s Flight Upgrader VR glasses, the passengers can upgrade his budget flight to a KLM flight, virtually.  By using the Flight Upgrader app and putting the smartphone in a cardboard (the VR headset,) the passenger can start enjoying all the benefits of an all-inclusive flight package. Passengers can then watch a movie on KLM’s entertainment system; use the free KLM media app to read their favorite newspaper; enjoy what a caring crew feels like; and indulge in a real, free, delicious meal.

Since August 2017, and in partnership with startup SkyLights, Air France has been conducting trials of an immersive entertainment system with VR headsets that allow customers to entertain themselves by watching 3D and 2D motion pictures  or TV series in a completely private movie theatre of their own that isolates them entirely from whatever is happening within the cabin.

SkyLights was founded in 2015 by David Dicko, a former Air France executive and pilot; Florent Bolzinger, a VR enthusiast; Laurence Fornari, a video streaming former entrepreneur; and Rateb Zaouk, an operations powerhouse. The company’s objective is to exploit the latest cinematic VR technology to do an extreme makeover on the inflight experience.

The UAE is a regional leader

In line with the global trends, the UAE is on a quest to raise the bar when it comes to embracing tech and innovation across all industries; and, of course, aviation is included.

Last April, Etihad Airways trialed SkyLights Aero VR entertainment technology at its First Class Lounge and Spa and Business Class Premium Lounge at Abu Dhabi International Airport’s Terminal 3. The purpose of the trial, which lasted for a whole  month, was to collect feedback from customers to identify the future of the airline in terms of entertainment aspects presented at Abu Dhabi’s Midfield Terminal. Speaking on the trial, Linda Celestino, Etihad Airways vice president guest experience and delivery, said, in a press release: “We are constantly investigating ways to enhance our service and hospitality offering on the ground through innovative technology and customization. By conducting trials such as this, we already understand that modern travelers expect more information and seek increasingly connected and immersive experiences which engage and entertain them on every level. Gone are the days when a premium lounge experience just meant comfortable design, luxurious amenities, and fine dining.” According to her, such a technology would provide more personalization and end-to-end entertainment solutions across all customer demographic.

That was not the first occasion on which Emirates Airline explored this realm of technology; the carrier, in its pursuit of establishing itself as a pioneer in this domain, had also trialed SkyLights theatre headsets last March in its Dubai airport lounges for an immersive cinematic experience. The headsets were tested in the Business Class lounge in Concourse B last April and in the First-Class lounge in concourse B this May.

The experience provided the travelers with 3D and 2D content via a fixed screen equipped with a wide-angle view and Skylight theatre headset, along with a wholly HD viewing experience. The headset is characterized by its built-in sound and video that allow customers to submerge  themselves within whatever they are watching. An assortment of content of films and documentaries will be available, including 360-degree videos.

In an interview with Wamda, an Emirates spokesperson reported that this complimentary entertainment service had received positive feedback. He also mentioned that if the trial continues to be well-received through customer assessment, the airline plans to roll out the experience across all its seven lounges in Dubai. “Having assessed a number of concepts and suppliers, introducing the immersive theatre and innovative SkyLights headsets in our lounges has proved to be a valuable experience,” the spokesperson said. He explained that the carrier is constantly searching for ways to surprise and delight its customers through its premium services and offers that includes a wide range of gourmet cuisine, shower facilities, health spa, and dedicated children’s play areas. “Leveraging technology for an immersive cinematic experience was the clear next step,” the spokesperson said. Emirates’ VR usage won’t be limited to entertainment, as it is examining different aspects of the business in whichVR technologies are applicable to improve the customer’s experience whether still on the ground or flying in the air.

Mirza confirms the fact that VR can transcend the boundaries of entertainment and go far beyond. He believes that although Emirates and Etihad Airlines have launched VR entertainment in their lounges at the airports, there is still much more that can be done in other domains. For instance, VR can be utilized to engage with customers. This technology can be also quite valuable to train employees, as he added, “We did hear Emirates Airline is investing in an AR headset for it is crew which again was very good news, but we are yet to see a full used scenario.”

Where and how to use it?

During Arabian Travel Market, one of the major regional conferences for the travel industry, Emirates Airline equipped their couches with VR to take the show’s visitors on a journey. Mirza believes that the same could be used to offer travelers an immersive experience of a top-class business or leisure travel to enable them to have a virtual tour through which they review the comfort or the overall specifications  of a certain seat onboard without even having to buy a ticket, which is very similar to what Lufthansa has done. This would encourage the customers, or inspire them, to book with this specific airline for a service or experience it provides. VR in airports will ease layover and transform the airports into destinations travelers prefer and long for.

Numerous startups could be involved

Numerous startups have been developing VR products in the UAE, but not specifically targeting the airlines industry. These include GigaWorks which is a VR film and content making agency; TAKELEAP, a startup that produces both VR and AR content; Eventagrat, which develops regional content; and PearQuest, an agency that develops immersive content. According to Mirza, brands are still depending on outsourcing VR requirements to other players in the US, Europe, and the UK — and this explains both carriers’ (Etihad and Emirates) involvement with SkyLights. However, “the UAE government has been very encouraging and leading initiatives to boost the homegrown VR/AR ecosystem,” Mirza concluded.

The future of on board-tech

According to Emirates, technology is reshaping the airline industry; and the carrier is embracing newfangled tech to interact with its customers in unprecedented ways. “For instance, we have been working on new technology initiatives with our aviation partners and stakeholders to fast-track projects that will enable us to overcome challenges and improve the Emirates customer journey at our Dubai hub,” the spokesperson said. Consequently, travelers will begin to experience a smoother and more satisfying airport experience with the implementation of initiatives like biometric technology and modern automated border control (ABC) gates. The company is also working on building the world’s first sector-wide Experimental (X) Lab to help build a new transportation paradigm.

Mirza is convinced that VR will disrupt enterprises and eventually alter the training and learning curve of employees. The International Air Transport Association (IATA), a leading provider of trainings for the aviation industry, is also a strong believer in that notion. The association has been exploring this technology since late 2016 and developed RampVR – a virtual reality training solution for ground operations. The future is clearly holding promises of more interaction, whether on the ground or in the air.

Source

Lethbridge College planning yearly VR Conference in VR following overwhelming success

Join Lethbridge College and our Alberta Chapter here

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LETHBRIDGE – After the success of the inaugural event, Lethbridge College has announced Merging Realities: An Event of Multiple Perspectives will be moving forward as an annual affair.

The college hosted the world’s first full-day conference, held completely in virtual reality, back on April 26.

Hone Virtual Education Ltd. CEO Alex Jackson, who is also president of the Alberta chapter of the international VR/AR Association, says the virtual and augmented reality industry is being built on firsts, and Merging Realities was no exception to that.

“This event showcased the potential of this technology to bring the world together by simply pushing the power button. The future is now.”

Since the convention was the first of its kind, Mike McCready, an instructor in Lethbridge College’s Multimedia Production program, says there was no precedent to guide the planning team.

“The virtual reality community supported us and helped to create an exciting buzz around Merging Realities, significantly contributing to its success,” McCready continued. “I’m excited to see how much bigger it can grow in future years.”

A release from the college states Merging Realities brought together industry leaders in virtual and augmented reality to explore applications and future advances.

Keynote speakers from Google and other powerhouse companies shared the exciting applications of VR and AR and offered important networking opportunities to those in attendance.

While some participants gathered on-site at Lethbridge College, the majority joined in virtually from around the world.

Participants from five continents, 16 countries and 84 cities took part either in-person or online.

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Additionally, the event prompted:

- 712 live views and a total of 12,690 minutes watched on Twitch, a live streaming video platform
- 1,509 unique visits to the Merging Realities webpage
- 2,957,726 impressions of the #mergingrealities2018 hashtag on Twitter

College organizers say the event would not have been possible without Doghead Simulations’ Rumii platform. The company supplied technical support, licensing and mentorship to organizers.

“Merging Realities was a game changer for our Rumii software, bringing to life our vision at Doghead Simulations for a world that is further connected by technology and virtual reality,” Doghead Simulations Chief Marketing Officer Amber Osborne said.

The innovative and interactive Merging Realities conference helped Lethbridge College in its goal to position itself at the helm of VR and AR development in post-secondary education.

Kris Hodgson, chair of the college’s School of Media and Design, says they are leading the way for people who are interested in getting involved with new and emerging technology.

“Being involved in the early stages of VR and AR means that as the technology evolves, we will play an important role in shaping the way educators and industries use the medium. This industry is moving so rapidly that people who have been in it for only one to two years are now subject matter experts,” Hodgson said.

As the interest and demand for virtual and augmented reality increases, the college will look to share its growing expertise with the community through Corporate and Continuing Education courses beginning this fall.

A date for the second annual Merging Realities conference will be announced in the coming months.

 

Join Lethbridge College and our Alberta Chapter here

How to know whether and when your workforce is ready for AR

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Pokemon Go may have brought it mainstream, but augmented reality (AR) is more than just a tool to get kids off the sofa. The technology is finding its way into a number of uses for business, including learning and development.

What exactly is AR and how are companies using it? It's essentially a mix of virtual reality and the real world: your actual location with images or information superimposed into the picture. AR can overlay maps, steps, data and more. It provides instructions, answers questions and, for example, can compare what a worker is doing to specifications for a task, offering input to perform the work correctly.

Tomorrow’s tools working today

The technology is already in use at plenty of worksites. Using Google Glass AR headsets, GE Aviation connects mechanics to specifications: as they use their digital torque wrench, the system tells them immediately when they have the exact fit to seal hoses and fluid lines. In healthcare, surgeons and nurses may wear glasses that display a patient’s vital signs in real time as treatment is being administered. In construction, AR can map out plans against the workspace, allowing workers to see what they should be doing in 3D, rather than having to check against blueprints.

Honeywell says it's using the world’s "first and only self-contained holographic computer." A headset that uses Microsoft’s Hololens provides a mixed reality view that gives learners a chance to explore in a combination of the real world and virtual space. "These active learning methods use sight, sound and touch, codifying learning," Vincent Higgins, director of technology and innovation, Honeywell Connected Plant, told HR Dive in an email.

"We are finding that Honeywell’s Skills Insight Immersive Competency, which uses augmented and virtual reality, really boosts retention rates," he said. "Technical staff are better prepared to face the challenges of a constantly changing work environment.”

Tapping into the 'wow' factor

The tech has certainly caught users' attention. "AR has started out primarily in new customer-facing applications to bring a 'wow' factor to websites or mobile apps," said Christa Manning, vice president of solution provider research for Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP, in an email. It's been used to help shoppers imagine how furniture might look in a home or to show airline frequent travelers how to navigate airport terminals, she told HR Dive. But the tech has moved to address the needs of business.

Early adopters telecom, for example, are using AR to support workers in the field who are servicing remote equipment. "With lots of data being generated by the 'Internet of Things' (IoT) and devices everywhere throwing off information," Manning said. "AR can be critical to help human beings process all of this information in real time and in context."

There are three main "horizontal applications of AR in B2B at the moment," Tuong Nguyen, principal research analyst at Gartner, told HR Dive in an email: "task itemization, collaboration, and see-what-I-see video." Task itemization delineates the steps needed to perform; collaboration gives employees resources and data needed while SWIS allows others to participate in the task from a remote location.

“Augmented Reality and VR represent an innovative alternative to instructor-led training,” John Buzzell, president of You Are Here said in an email to HR Dive. “Both can dramatically reduce training times, improve consistency and enhance recall, leading to higher quality and speed that helps companies retain the employees they spend so much money to recruit.”

Making the (virtual) leap

For business considering adopting AR, the challenge may be more than just identifying a need. Preparing employees and learners to use the technology can be difficult. "As they bring new AR approaches," said Manning, "learning professionals should consider that this can cause cognitive overload for many users. Having to learn not only a new set of information but also a new tool for conveying the information and adjusting their own ways of working and learning at the same time."

She recommends learning professionals coordinate very closely with IT to make sure they have access to the right hardware, as well as Wi-Fi that can keep up with timely processing of all the data. "Like any new technology or change in the business," she said, 'learning professionals really have to focus on supporting the workers empathetically through the change and market the benefits for the worker as well as the business."

Buzzell suggests that businesses have a solid strategy before implementing new tech: “You must build a solid 'customer experience' for your team, create a framework that makes sense for your organization, and make the transition as smooth as possible," he said. There are resources available, such as professional organizations like the VR/AR Association. He also noted that many device manufacturers or solution providers offer "adoption dollars" that can help companies start the transition to immersive tech.

They might be more ready than you think

If it’s deployed properly, adoption may not be solely about teaching staff how to do something differently, Nguyen said; "it’s giving them a tool that makes their job easier/faster/safer.” If an employee has been trying to drive a nail with a shoe and you hand them a hammer, they really don’t have to “learn” how to use it, he said; you’ve simply provided a tool that makes them more effective.

Curiosity may well drive learning, too, Manning noted. “As much as AR can be overwhelming, it can be very powerful to tap into human curiosity and to make learning new things or applying new information more compelling and fun.”

Don’t overlook capitalizing on the novelty of the tech, she said. “Simply trying it out in a pilot or test area will help attract new digital workers and/or ease more hesitant employees into a new area.” But AR must be in the context of a mature and sound workforce support and enablement technology strategy. “Like any new type of technology,” she said, “there will be fits and starts and it will never be the end all be all, but [it] should be part of an overall portfolio focused on productivity.”

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