virtual reality

You asked the questions, and here are the answers from our Training Webinar Expert Panel

Our Training Committee held a very successful webinar on “The Impact and ROI of VR/AR in Training” on 16th January 2019.

You can watch the Webinar recording here

You can also watch the solution demos here

It proved a popular event, with over 300 people registering to watch four enlightening presentations on very different Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality training applications. During the lively question-and-answer session it became clear that the number of great questions was larger than the time available to answer them all! This post allows the presenters to respond the questions that couldn’t be answered during the webinar.

Presenter 1 : David Trainor, Sentireal

Presentation Theme

David presented the “AppUccino” software, which delivers AR experiences for special-needs trainees to learn how to be a barista and work successfully in a commercial coffee shop. AppUccino directs trainees through the process of making americano, espresso, latte and cappuccino drinks. It generates AR overlays on the physical coffee-making equipment, including the industrial coffee machine itself, the separate coffee bean grinder and the separate water heater. A short video of part of the AppUccino AR experience can be seen here. Trainee performance measurements are taken as they prepare the drink using AppUccino and these measurements are uploaded to a cloud application, which analyzes them and presents training progress information to authorized training managers. An initial pilot with AppUccino indicated that trainees retained twice the amount of information and developed their skills 50% faster using AppUccino.

Webinar Questions for David Trainor

You said it took ~9 months of definition and dev, how many people were working on your team in which roles in order to accomplish this?

We used one media/content creator and one software developer. The work was carried out over the course of 9 months, but neither the content creation nor the software development role was full-time.

How were the analyses done? Observation? Performance against criteria on task?

The analyses were done based on (i) time taken for the trainee to perform certain tasks (ii) measurements of how accurately the trainee performed certain tasks and (iii) estimates of where the trainee’s attention and focus was at specific points in the procedure.

How many users has Appuccino had? What has been the impact? In how many months after development did you achieve that impact?

We’ve just completed an initial evaluation/pilot involving 15-20 trainees within a coffee shop managed by a partner training organization. At some point in February 2019 we intend to expand this to all barista trainees within that training organization.

How long did it take to create AR content for training?

The 3D models for the AR overlays were completed in approximately 1 week. The media is actually quite simple. Strong, simple content proved to be the best way to present the required information to special needs trainees who are affected by autism, Downs Syndrome or general learning difficulties. However we needed to spend much more time - about 4 months - on the instructional design and the directions, animations and transitions within the AR scenarios.

How did you already go about gathering data on ROI prior to the development (and also launch) of the app?

The data was gathered from a pilot study at one location. This was after the app was developed but before it was publicly released.

Very exciting project! Curious why you selected that small, unique demographic to start? Unique requirements? Expect to scale up to other populations?

We picked barista training as it’s an area where there is expected to be a lack of qualified employees in the future. In the UK, where I’m from, it is estimated that there is a shortfall of 40000 trained baristas. We selected special-needs barista trainees because there is a high degree of underemployment in that group and if we can create a good intuitive solution for special-needs trainees then it should scale up well to other groups and other types of catering or hospitality training applications.

Are these analytics published somewhere?

Not yet - the small pilot study that we’ve carried out gave us some indications on the training improvements and return on investment from AppUccino but we’re starting a larger evaluation in February 2019, when more trainees start to use the app at our partner training organization. We plan to publish the detailed outputs from this larger study.

Presenter 2 : Jeff Meador, Portico

Presentation Theme

Jeff presented Portico’s Diversity and Inclusion VR Seminar, which provides learners the opportunity to practice and master their skills with inclusive language. This program was designed to complement traditional classroom learning by preparing learners with practical applications of the skills discussed during classroom sessions. With Portico’s software, learners speak directly to AI-powered digital avatars and engage in simulated conversations that put their skills to test. Learners also get real-time feedback on their performance through a virtual trainer, who uses AI to guide users towards better language choices.

Webinar Questions for Jeff Meador

How did you factor in orientation to the VR experience to overcome novelty or unfamiliarity with the technology to get straight to the experience?
We didn’t want to rely on the learner having any previous experience with VR. We give users time to look around and explore prior to beginning the scenario. This gives them a chance to understand the parameters and boundaries of the exercise. We also engage in some light chit-chat (“how’s the weather” sort of stuff) to let the learner know that they are expected to talk and that the AI is listening and will respond.

Do you need a quiet room?

A quiet room certainly helps. Current speech-to-text technology is very strong, but having a quiet place for the training is very helpful. It also helps the learner concentrate on the task at hand.

Is Portico looking at including body language (proximity to client gestures, etc.)?

Yes; we’ve done some preliminary work with this and have set some behaviors that change based on the learner’s position and/ or focal point during the training.

How is the real time interaction happening? is it a sort of multiplayer training and a mentor is interacting with you? or the AI is giving you feedback?

Everything within our scenarios is driven by AI, including the feedback. Our goal is to have these role playing experiences run without the need for actors or facilitators.

Presenter 3 : Marlo Brooke, AVATAR Partners

Marlo presented a Mixed Reality Training System for aircraft and aircraft subsystem maintenance. Primarily an Augmented Reality / Mixed Reality solution, this high-fidelity, industrial-grade maintenance training system scales from a tabletop model design, to a full-sized aircraft, allowing the maintainer to train on the job, hands free, at the point of need, without any jitter or drift. The system utilizes object tracking (as opposed to stickers or markers) to ensure highly accurate lock on target, even as the user moves around the aircraft. It also  integrates to any backend system to both retrieve and record/send information about the maintenance task. It supports collaborative tasks and remote assistance.

Webinar Questions for Marlo Brooke

How did you come up with your pricing for your offerings?

Pricing is based on the specific requirement of the customer. AVATAR Partners can develop the application in its entirety, and/or the customer can purchase SimplifyXR to build/extend all or some of the functionality. Furthermore, because we use open source products such as Unity, the customer does not need to purchase SimplifyXR to extend any AVATAR Partners built XR solutions.

Is SimplifyXR proprietary to you or is it 3rd party?

SimplifyXR is is developed by AVATAR Partners using open source development tools, and can integrate to any backend system through APIs. It is licensed and sold through AVATAR Partners and its certified resellers. SimplifyXR is not required to extend any AVATAR Partner XR applications.

Could you please clarify how 97% reduction was calculated? Does it mean that instead of 100 hours of training without glasses only 3 hours with glasses are required?

You are correct. The training task was calculated based on the current training method for that particular wire failure, which involved an experienced maintainer gathering information from 3 different source materials (ETM, Wire Illuminator, and 2D schematics) to trace and identify the wire failure. The current training method is documented as taking 4 hours on average. The AR training experience is 7 minutes in duration, which is a 97% reduction in time to train.

Marlo, you said you have offices around the country.  I didn't hear if Portico has the same, but do either of your companies look to establish satellite offices in more remote locations? If so, what type of environments do you look for? Developed workforce, local colleges, etc?

AVATAR Partners has regional offices in Huntington Beach CA, Arlington (Crystal City) VA, Virginia Beach VA, and Patuxent River MD, with personnel working in 8 different states within the USA. AVATAR has teaming partners with offices in Atlanta GA, Orlando FL, San DIego CA, Dayton OH, and Fort Worth, TX. We are expanding based on a variety of factors including the locations of teaming partners, certified resellers, and universities both within the USA and Allied Nations.

Marlo, how did you measure those analytics?

The performance metrics were derived from test results by AVATAR Partners based on the comparison of the current methodology versus the use of XR. These tests included accuracy,  time to train, and time to complete the task. Cost savings were derived based on an assumed reduction of errors based on increased accuracy, and will vary depending on the application and cost of parts. We also discussed other studies such as the Boeing/Iowa State Study on wing assembly (Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) 2014).

I’m not familiar with SimplifyXR -- can you describe what that is and whether that is proprietary to AVATAR?

SimplifyXR is a software product developed by AVATAR Partners that allows non-programmers to develop their own Augmented Reality, Mixed Reality, and Virtual Reality experiences. It also speeds development time by tenfold by using a user-friendly interface. The product also evaluates the user’s desired XR application and notifies the user whether or not the application is well suited for XR, or if a different training media (e.g. video training) would be more effective. SimplifyXR is owned and licensed by AVATAR Partners, and is developed using open-source tools and industry standards, and also integrates to any backend system using APIs. The product is available directly through AVATAR Partners or certified resellers.

Was there a problem using AR on an object as large as an aircraft?

We overcame several challenges to make the solution commercially usable. Using the basic development tools and markers didn’t work - it caused significant drift, jitter and an inability to accurately track the object as the maintainer walked around the aircraft. AVATAR Partners was able to overcome all of these issues by developing algorithms to lock on target without any drift or jitter to the user. Our solution being hardware agnostic, we found the Microsoft Hololens and android tablet supported higher fidelity. Also, we used Mantis Vision 3D scanners to scan the aircraft, gaining an accurate 3D model so that we could use object tracking (instead of markers). This along with our programming algorithms provides the maintainer with absolute precision as they walk around the aircraft, regardless of the unit’s size (from 1:6 the model size, to full aircraft).

Presenter 4 : Carlos Ochoa, ONE digital consulting

Presentation Theme

Carlos presented XR platform for immersive training, operation and maintenance of industry plant services, eolic farms, which includes advanced reality technologies in 3d interactive environments (extended reality, 360º video and digital data integration), methodologies in a modular architecture (on/off line). Innvestion deploy an intelligent XR ecosystem with the specialized know-how to turn unstructured data into value-adding information, for specific subject when providing services such as preventive maintenance, security management or operational management. Simulation-based training, prefaced with traditional training methods on process fundamentals, is the most efficient and fastest way to train new employees and prepare them for their daily work providing huge added value and benefits.

ONE digital consulting has been working for more than 20 years in the eLearning and Training arena, and with our selected partners network in Europe, Saudi, India, Africa and Latam.

Webinar Questions for Carlos Ochoa

What hardware configurations are everyone on the panel currently using for their XR applications?

For a full INNVESTION experience, the user only needs a mobile device and VR glasses that fit the device. The training centre will need an internet connection to download different modules.

INNVESTION can be used in a single “low cost” VR environment based on Samsung Gear Mobile VR, through the most advanced VR Oculus Rift, HTC Vive configuration. The key issue of INNVESTION is data integration in one device. From reality to virtual reality or vice versa.

INNVESTION can be used in a multi window spheric environment, for multiuser training environments.

What are KPI’s?

The acronym KPI sounds for Key Performance Indicator. This is a general business term referring to any metric used in understanding how an organization is doing. While the term can be tossed around the business world ostentatiously or irrelevantly, the fundamental rationale derives from the simple concept that if you don’t know how you did in the past, you don’t know if you have improved in the future. Because every business has its own economic niche, customer acquisition models, geographic localities, production methods, etc., each business must define for themselves what makes them successful. Therefore, the “key” in KPI, should be a metric key to your enterprise. These indicators are as varied as your imagination, but a number of familiar indicators include monthly recurring revenue (MRR), cost to acquire a customer (CAC) and the term used in this webinar’s title, Return on Investment (ROI).

When you are looking to improve your ROI in your training strategy, you need to understand clearly the training savings metrics, saved commute hours, lifelong expense of your LMS solution, overall productivity and revenue increase, other factors specific to your business and training model.

In conclusion, we can see selected companies  transforming their business opportunities for the XR technology and adopt it regardless of cost and ‘clunkiness.’ Today we see leader enterprises utilizing XR for training, maintenance, engineering, and marketing purposes. These companies eventually pull everyone else in their direction as the industry caters to their operational needs and chases enterprise benefits.

VR/AR Education: Take Classes at BCIT Vancouver

Image Source:  BCIT

Image Source: BCIT

You’d be right in thinking that Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality education has been all the buzz recently - and with good reason.

The VR revolution has arrived and the aptly named ‘empathy machine’ is just at the tipping point of disrupting all industries. With Apple’s release of the ARKit 2 with iOS 12 and Zuckerburg’s standalone Oculus Go VR headset making headlines worldwide, it has never been a more perfect time to consider a career in emerging technology. (Not to mention, the global augmented reality market is expected to grow significantly to about 90 billion U.S. dollars by 2020 with 1 billion users!)

What does all this mean? Strap on a headset, reach for your controller and get ready to future-proof your career. When immersive technology comes knocking - you’ll be prepared.

Where can I learn? BCIT is one of Vancouver’s treasured educational institutions, with campuses in Downtown Vancouver and in Burnaby. In the fall of 2017, BCIT launched their Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (VRAR) Statement of Completion comprising of four part-time courses offered by the BCIT School of Computing and Academic Studies. Check them out below!

COMP 1011 - UX/UI Fundamentals begins with a focus on user experience (UX) and introduces user interface (UI) design.

COMP 1910 - Introduction to 3D Simulations and VR/AR focuses on how to create 3D models with multiple tools to create a simple Unity AR/VR/MR demo.

COMP 2012 - Applied UX/UI for VR/AR transforms existing 2D/3D content and evolves interface concepts based on UCD for MR environments.

COMP 3919 - Applied VR/AR Project applies story-boarding, rapid prototyping and user testing for a VR/AR/MR Project.

With Vancouver globally respected as one of the top VR/AR hubs in the world, and with over 130+ local members in the VRARA’s Vancouver chapter alone, British Columbia is proving itself to be a (virtual) force to be reckoned with.

Apply to one of BCIT’s programs now to join the rapidly growing VR/AR community in Vancouver, and get the skills you need to make, design and reshape your own realities!

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

morfus 6.jpg

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.

morfus 4.jpg

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.

mofus 1.jpg

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.

morfus 5.jpg

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. 


VRARA member BioInteractive Technologies joins Techstars 2018


Vancouver, BC Canada - International startup accelerator Techstars announced today that Vancouver technology company, BioInteractive Technologies (BIT), has been accepted into their preeminent international new Techstars Anywhere program, where less than 1% of applicants were accepted.

Vancouver has long been known as “Silicon Valley North”. In 2017 Vancouver started seeing a rise of accelerators taking note of the Vancouver tech industry, attending such local events like Vancouver Startup Week where BIT’s founders first met with Techstars.

BioInteractive Technologies (BIT), provides a seamless and intuitive platform for a gesture-recognition wearable called TENZR. "Ubiquitous spatial computing Spatial computing (Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality) is upon us and we need to expand beyond the hand-held controller, like mouse, keyboard, voice control and camera-tracking systems to include unconstrained gesture recognition!" Says BIT’s CEO, Lukas-Karim Merhi “We are humbled and honoured by Techstar’s acceptance and can’t wait to have access to their network of amazing founders, mentors, and investors. This will allow our company to achieve our vision to become the leading wearable in gesture recognition, and the de-facto controller of the next decade” says Merhi.


Merhi also notes that without the help of the Vancouver VRAR Association's Director Tony Bevilacqua and President Dan Burgar, who connected Merhi to Techstars, he would have missed out on the opportunity to apply to their accelerator program altogether. 

Techstars Anywhere is a relatively new program, now in its second year of operations. Historically Techstars founders were relocated to the US for their intense coveted program. However, newly formed virtual based Techstars Anywhere now brings the power of the Techstars network to the founders #Anywhere. Founders follow the proven Techstars approach to accelerate their business & #domorefaster. Techstars has made an investment in capital, time & network with


BIT has been in operation since 2015 and is led by Lukas-Karim Merhi (CEO), Gautam Sadarangani (CTO) and Jose Fernandez Villasenor (COO), and currently has a team of 8. BIT has developed TENZR, an accurate, calibration-free, hands-free, camera-free, wrist-worn gesture recognition controller compatible with any Bluetooth enabled devices.

Techstars is the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. Techstars founders connect with other entrepreneurs, experts, mentors, alumni, investors, community leaders, and corporations to grow their companies. Techstars operates four divisions: Techstars Startup Programs, Techstars Mentorship-Driven Accelerator Programs, Techstars Corporate Innovation Partnerships, and the Techstars Venture Capital Fund.

For more information on either company, please contact:

Lukas-Karim Merhi, CEO of BioInteractive Technologies, 778-883-6443

Joanie Kindblade, Techstars Media,

The VR AR March Event in NYC

The VR/AR Association NYC Chapter Launch event was a huge success.  Hosted at NYU, the event was sold out. The attendees represented a good mix of the NYC’s VR AR community, including Tech companies, Media and Entertainment, and Research.

The event included demos, including the following. David Lobster from NYU’s Holojam VR team showed us the fascinating work NYU is doing with its own VR headset unit.  Asher Weintraub, who is 12-year-old VR creator (Oculus VR), inspired everyone with his passion for VR AR and the work he’s doing.  Dennis Adamo and Owen Bush form showed off their Daydream.VR, a music powered Virtual Reality, which enables anyone to create a fully immersive, sound-responsive, fantastical world from their music collection.

There was a panel of experts, moderated by Chris Pfaff, CEO, Chris Pfaff Tech/Media. Chris is well known in the VR AR community and did a fine job with the following panelists: Marco Ricci, Director of Virtual Reality, EdgeDNA.   Caitlin Burns, Chief Operating Officer, datavized. Ariel Shimoni, Director of Virtual Reality, StartApp. Brad Albert, Founder, Co-founder, Azimyth Studios, and, Miguel Sanchez, Founder of Massideation.

The event concluded with a Startup VC Pitch segment of the program, which was another highlight of the evening.  Two VCs, Shawn Cheng from Vayner Capital and Jonathan Struhl from Indicator Ventures, were the judges for the startups that were pitching.  The audience at the event were also involved in voting the best startup.

The Founder of the VR/AR Association, Nathan Pettyjohn, flew into NYC for the event.  Below is a picture of Kris and Sarah, VR/AR NYC Chapter staff, with Nathan. And, other pictures from the event.  

Video of the event will be posted soon. 

Anyone interested in becoming a member of the NYC Chapter, email



AOL Virtual Reality Immersion Summit

Congratulations to AOL for putting such a great event together!  VRARA NYC staff Kris Kolo & Sarah Zhang attended the event, which was hosted at the AOL NYC headquarters. Experts in 360 Video, VR and Augmented Reality presented at the Future Possibilities of VR panel, which was moderated by AOL’s CTO Bill Pence. We also experienced VR tech at the demos fair featuring breakthrough NYC start-ups and industry leaders pre-selected by AOL to attend the event.

NYC VR AR Startups at the event included: SurrealVRIrisVRVisiSonicsFloored, YouVisit, and others. 

Come to our next VR AR event on March 22nd! Register here