mixed reality

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. 


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. 


Vancouver's Chapter of the VR/AR Association Makes VR/AR/MR accessible

Article originally posted by The Georgia Straight, can be found here and written by Kate Wilson, March 9th, 2017. 



Imagine a world where you can hold up a cellphone in front of a restaurant, and instantly see Yelp reviews, flip through a digital menu, and have the option to book a table. Then consider driving a car with a smart windshield, which displays digital graphics on top of the driver’s real-life view. And then try to wrap your mind around a world where screens have become completely obsolete—because individuals can conjure computer displays through contact lenses or glasses.

According to Dan Burgar, president of the Vancouver chapter of the VR/AR Association, that day is almost upon us. Working to develop awareness of virtual reality (VR)—the technology where users wear an immersive headset to experience three-dimensional environments—and augmented reality (AR)—the practice of superimposing computer-generated images onto a user’s view of the real world—Burgar finds it difficult to think of an industry where the hardware would not generate a huge leap forward.

“I think the thing that will blow people’s minds the most is the practical applications,” he tells the Straight, reached by phone at the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona. “The gaming stuff is really fun, and the entertainment side is really interesting, but what I get most excited about is how widespread it’s going to become in everyday life, whether it’s in professions like healthcare, where people can operate without having a human body in front of them, or just walking around on the street.

“It’s already beginning to be used in areas like building development, where it gives architects the tools to manipulate their creations in three-dimensions,” he continues. “Real estate is using it to allow customers to visualize unbuilt spaces, and to view properties without actually having to visit them. And it’s becoming important in education, where it’s possible to train individuals in areas like oil and gas extraction by just putting on the headset. That allows you to get as close as possible to a real-life experience before entering a dangerous situation.”

Vancouver is fast becoming a hub for VR and AR—a fact that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the B.C. government. Not only has the province invested $100 million in venture capital for British Columbian tech companies, it’s recently started offering a tax credit specifically for virtual and augmented reality. It’s that forward-thinking approach, Burgar says, that inspired him to create a VR/AR Association chapter in the city.

“If I had to sum it up, I’d say that the VR/AR Association is a community of the best minds making use of virtual reality and augmented reality,” he comments. “So far there are 28 branches, including places as far-flung as New Zealand, Russia, and the UAE. The goal is to connect businesses and organizations with the developers and service providers working with the technology. We want to band together with companies to figure out what the best practices are, and how we can connect together to move the industry along.

“Our Vancouver chapter has about 30 members,” he continues, “but there are more than 50 companies here that are dabbling in virtual reality or working on augmented reality development, and that number increases every day. We are continually connecting local businesses with Vancouver developers, and figuring out how to use this technology creatively.”

As well as pointing out its versatility in a business to business setting, Burgar is keen to bring VR and AR to the local public. Recently organizing an event at Canuck Place—a hospice that offers palliative care services for sick children in B.C.—the VR/AR Association staff spent a day introducing the kids to the headsets.

“Community engagement is really important to our organization,” Burgar says. “We live in such a great city, and any way that we can give back is big for us. It feels great to be able put a smile on the kids’ faces by putting them in VR goggles and getting them out of the hospital with games, or transporting them to different virtual locations, and letting them immerse themselves in fantastic worlds. We want to continue cultivating and helping out Vancouverites in any way possible, and we have some initiatives we’re working on that will bring this technology to the community.

“Our next big VR and AR event is called CVR,” he continues, “which is the Pacific Northwest’s leading virtual, augmented, and mixed reality expo. We’re expecting between 8000 and 10,000 people. The Friday will be an industry day, and people like NASA, CNN, and the government of Canada will be there to discuss where VR and AR fit in their industry. Then we open it up to the public for the weekend, where anyone can come and try it out. We think it’s important that this technology is accessible to everyone—because this is the future.”

CVR is at the Vancouver Convention Centre from May 5 to May 7. More information about the VR/AR Association can be found here, and the official page for the Vancouver chapter can be located here.

Recap of Vancouver Chapter event, VR/MR Beyond Gaming

Another sold out Vancouver chapter event took place on February 23rd at the TELUS Garden Flex Space, provided by TELUS PureFibre Team.

This event, VR & Mixed Reality: Beyond Gaming, was focused around the practical usage of the technology and the ways we expect it to disrupt wide range of industries and in our daily lives. Kharis O’Connell, author of Designing For Mixed Reality, led the keynote speech on Practical MR/VR and Designing for the Future. He explored the possibilities of integrating mixed reality in businesses and our daily lives, as well as potential limitations and ethical boundaries.

The rest of the night consisted of networking, bites and sips, and demos. Our attendees were immersed in four different demos from CognitiveVR, LNG Studios, LlamaZoo, and Build Direct. CognitiveVR showcased eye tracking VR analytics compatible with the new FOVE headset, and LNG Studios showcased GoogleEarth view for HTC Vive. LlamaZoo and BuildDirect showcased their demos on Microsoft HoloLens. LlamaZoo demonstrated mixed reality anatomy of a canine heart, whereas BuildDirect showcased a demo for interior designs.

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We're proving that Vancouver has a huge appetite for VR/MR and is only growing. The chapter is excited about upcoming events as well as other initiatives that will help us to continue to cultivate Vancouver as a global VR/AR/MR hub.

A special thank-you to all of our sponsors who made this event possible: Entax Consulting, TELUS PureFibre, BCIT, Voyer Law.

Written by Laura Ryu

Photo Credits to Josue Pacheco @josuedev