Are you a VR/AR founder/startup looking to expand and relocate your business into North America?

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VRARA Vancouver and Launch Academy through the VR/AR Hub has a program launched to help founders like you looking to relocate and become a Canadian Permanent Resident and benefit from easier access to the US/Canadian market for business and travel.

Launch Academy is Vancouver’s leading non-profit tech hub, focused on helping emerging tech entrepreneurs launch, fund and grow their startups since 2012.

They’re a designated organization of the Canadian Government's Start-up Visa Program and are currently working with over a dozen different who have relocated to Vancouver, Canada. See more info about the Start-up Visa Program below.

Application Deadline is March 15th. Get your application started today!

Read more here

Global Services and Design Leader Stantec Joins the VR/AR Association

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We’re very excited to have Stantec join the VR/AR Association as our newest Corporate member.

Albert Liu (Membership Manager) of VRARA Vancouver caught up with Aubrey Tucker, an innovative Technology Developer at Stantec to discuss VR/AR in engineering and what they’re up to.

Can you tell me more about Stantec and your role?

Stantec is a 22,000 person organization with over 400 offices around the world. We predominantly focus on engineering but we also work with all forms of design and large scale work. For example, we’re involved with skyscrapers and large transportation projects such as railways. My team is interested in emerging tech and they’re looking into business cases for adopting it. We want to improve computation design, visualization and the way people deliver work.

How long has Stantec been involved in VR/AR?

Stantec first became involved with VR/AR in 2015 through a R&D program called the Greenlight fund which supported creative and innovative ideas from our employees. There are a lot of us throughout the company that have adopted VR/AR for a broad range of use cases. Some of us were early adopters of the Hololens and create our own content for it. I was first introduced to VR/AR in 2010 with Vizard and World Viz through the Oculus SDK 1 and other older platforms.

Some of our designers use Enscape which is an AR plug-in that sits in their software design tool and provides real time rendering with typical artistry work such as BIM (Building Information Modelling). They’re focused primarily on using Enscape to design rather than creating raw content. They also use Twinmotion which is a simplified version of the Unreal Game Engine to produce architectural visualizations and VR environments.

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What made you decide to join the VRARA?

We decided to join the VRARA to network, get access to events and see what everyone in the industry is up to. We want to be a more active member in the worldwide VR/AR community. My selfish interest for joining the VRARA is to provide all the different offices around the world with a way to engage with other technology creators that are local to them. We want people from these offices to attend events, meet new people, learn and experiment with emerging immersive technology.

What are some things that we can expect from Stantec in the future?

We were shortlisted for an award for our immersive design experience for the Royal Columbian Hospital (RCH) and the Fraser Health Authority. We used VR to help the staff experience the interior rooms of the hospital. The nursing team noticed the types of storage that had been specified were too small in some areas and too big in others. They told us that they wouldn’t have noticed this without using VR. Real time visualization was a game changer for the RCH because it allowed for many more considerations within the interior and exterior spaces.

Stantec is also interested in moving into simulation and looking at how long it takes people to get to places. We’re seeing a lot of startups focused on these issues. It’ll also be interesting to look at collaborations where we can work together with others in a VR environment.

Recently, we worked with Archiact, another member of the VRARA to incubate ideas with them. Scenarion launched an extension for SketchUp called Rendezvue which makes it easy to review and edit 3D models in VR. We’ll also be working with them for another project on space planning. We’re always looking for other companies to work on projects with!

How do you see VR/AR making an impact in the building design/architecture space?

Design and aesthetics are the obvious ones but VR/AR is making an impact in many different ways. There are different mediums that can explored such as true immersive walk throughs and the potential for world building in VR. Another interesting challenge is the question of interfaces and how to set up complex interfaces in a VR environment.

In AR there’s a huge opportunity in construction by bringing in health safety applications to reduce and prevent danger onsite. There is also the use of Reality Capture which passively captures 3D models in construction. We can review these models and send instructions to workers to improve work efficiency.  

Daqri and Microsoft are also breaking into these spaces with their AR headsets. Construction is an old school industry and there’s a lot of room for disruption but we’re still not quite there yet.

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How do you see the future of VR/AR integrating into designing buildings and communities in the next 3-5 years?

It’s hard to predict what will happen in the future but I believe there will be a lot of progress made in construction. It depends on how advanced the hardware becomes because once it’s built, the software and other technologies will be easy. We know what we want in construction because if that works all of the other use cases will fall in line. At the end of the day hardware is the linchpin that will dictate the future of VR/AR in construction and engineering.

Closing comments

My team and I at Stantec are very excited to be members of the VRARA. We’re looking forward to building new relationships, pushing the technology further and meeting everyone.

See Aubrey’s talk from one of VRARA Vancouver’s events earlier this year


Transforming Digital & Marketing Agencies with VR and AR | Q&A Series #2 featuring Domain 7

This is the second feature in the series showcasing Vancouver digital and marketing agencies (non-traditional VR/AR companies) 

Our own Laura Ryu (Marketing and Communications Manager at VRARA Vancouver) sat down with Kevan Gilbert, Director of Engagement Strategy of Domain 7 based in Vancouver. They've worked with a number of clients on their interactive digital strategy including Microsoft, Telus and UBC.

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Tell us about your agency & what you've been working on.

Domain7! We've been working on using virtual reality as a way to inspire our partners to envision a more positive future. From in-studio demos to taking the technology to conferences, we see this as an opportunity to help people reduce their cynical barriers, and start dreaming together about the future we want to co-create. 

Tell us about a VR or AR campaign that you enjoyed or was inspired by. 

We're loving the demos coming from ARKit from Apple, including the portal-to-another-world demo:

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We are starting to see competition build up in advertising, especially with big players such as Saatchi & Saatchi building on-site VR labs. What are your thoughts on competition and what do you think will set apart the strong agencies from the rest? 

Rather than simply stealing attention or building on negative habits, the way our over-optimized 2D web has become, perhaps the work that will stand out in VR is work that answers this question well: "Does it help the human who is using it live the life they want to lead?" 

How do you think the structure of agencies and its landscape will change in the next 5 years given anticipated rapid growth in VR/AR technology?

I think it will remain important-as-ever to invest in healthy workplace cultures, since there will be more competition amongst agencies for smart technologists, designers, writers, creators, etc. How can we grow healthy workplaces that affirm human value even in this coming gold rush, where companies may become tempted to start taking shortcuts in hiring and culture.


What is currently your biggest challenge (or as the industry) in regards to integrating VR?

The chicken-and-egg-ness. What comes first: becoming an expert in the technology, or waiting for client demand? Since the technology doesn't have wide adoption in the user base, clients aren't necessarily asking for it. But in the meantime, they'll never ask if they don't see expertise and opportunity. 

We know that VR/AR will be disruptive in many different industries, how will this effect your company and your clients?

I'm curious to see how, in 10 years time, fully integrated VR/AR solutions have the opportunity to influence HOW we work, not necessarily what we work on. For instance, workspaces are very physical right now, because of the need for computer monitors, and the human desire for social proximity that has no other outlet. But if through VR/AR, the work isn't on your screen, how would we redesign the workplace? Similarly, if through VR/AR I can "feel" like I'm right beside my colleagues, even when I'm in my house, do we still need offices in the same way? And if a certain percent of the workforce can become not just "remote" workers, but "virtual" workers, how can this influence commuting, and thus, carbon emissions and air quality? (I'm not saying we'll all become hermits, but I do hope we ask ourselves more, "Why am I commuting, and is there another way?")

Why is it important for agencies to be onboard now and join the VR/AR Association?

To anticipate what's coming, to develop your imagination, and be part of a community of changemakers. 


We'd like to thank Kevan from Domain 7, please visit them at

Join the VRARA Marketing Committee and others, here

December Recap from The VRARA Vancouver

December was an eventful month for VRARA Vancouver. We officially launched in Vancouver with a sold out event on December 5th during a snow stormy day, that didn't stop 160+ attendees to join us at Unbounce. The event featured speakers and fireside chat panel from industry leaders, as well as VR/MR demonstrations. The first speaker, Eric Hine from Archiact VR, discussed the next 5-10 years in VR and MR, while Ryan Peterson CEO of Finger Food Studios discussed further on what to expect with Mixed Reality in the near future. While there is a lot of conversation around gaming in VR, we were able to showcase practical applications of VR and MR. Some of these demonstrations included a VR Real Estate Walkthrough, education demo, as well as a VR Simulator in orthopedic surgery.  See more here.  

VR/AR Assocation Vancouver launch event: VR/AR/MR The Future of Computing at Unbounce

VR/AR Assocation Vancouver launch event: VR/AR/MR The Future of Computing at Unbounce

Just few short days following the launch event, we helped organize the Pacific Roadshow. We had the opportunity to network with some of the most exciting VR Companies from the West Coast including Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland. While on the road, we attended the VRX event hosted in San Francisco.  This event was all about discussing the possibilities of virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality and how it can be integrated in the years to come. Some of the speakers/attendees were industry leaders from companies such as Oculus, HTC Vive, Magic Leap, Intel, Audi, BMW as well as top venture capitalists investing in immersive technologies.

As we geared into the holidays and the season of giving, our chapter had a very special opportunity to bring smiles to the children at the Canuck Place Children’s Hospice on December 16th. The Canuck Place provides care and support for children and families living with progressive life-threatening conditions. With the help of a couple VR headsets, we were able to bring the children into the depths of the sea, the jungle, and their first roller coaster rides. The three children we met were mesmerized by how realistic the games and demonstrations were, and didn’t seem to want to take the headsets off. This special experience brought smiles to the kids, as well as the families and staff, and we realized the potential and future opportunities for the Vancouver chapter to become more involved in our community by bringing virtual reality. See more here

The VRARA Vancouver wishes everyone a happy holidays and fruitful new year! Watch out for exciting events and initiatives coming in 2017, we're looking ahead!

Post by Laura Ryu