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ITâ€™S NOT A GAME Mojo Vision:
Vy and Vobling:
Eyes-up and hands-free
Fighting fire with VR
Get in on the AR
T H E
B U S I N E S S
M A N U FA C T U R E D
R E A L I T I E S
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THE BUSINESS OF MANUFACTURED REALITIES Dedicated to the business of virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, audio sensory experiences and other upcoming innovations within immersive technology, VRWorldTech keeps business leaders and professionals updated with daily news and regular features from across the globe. To subscribe to the weekly VRWorldTech newsletter, follow this link: http://eepurl.com/dunw2v Jonathan Savage, Publisher firstname.lastname@example.org
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Published by: Premeditated Media Group Ltd 71-75 Shelton Street Covent Garden London WC2H 9JQ Editor Mark Dugdale firstname.lastname@example.org Publisher Jonathan Savage email@example.com
ITâ€™S NOT A GAME Mojo Vision:
Vy and Vobling:
Eyes-up and hands-free
Fighting fire with VR
Get in on the AR
Editorial board Jan Pflueger, advisXR
T H E
B U S I N E S S
M A N U FA C T U R E D
R E A L I T I E S
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Meet VRWorldTech Magazine The first issue of VRWorldTech Magazine is here
Mark has been a business-tobusiness journalist for a decade. He has edited and written for websites within financial services such as insurance and securities lending, and law, primarily intellectual property, for which he also has a keen interest. He graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in creative writing. He is an avid reader, particularly of science fiction and fantasy, and writes fiction in his spare time. He also blogs occasionally on the difficulty inherent in writing good fiction.
Mark Dugdale Editor VRWorldTech
ere it is: the first issue of VRWorldTech Magazine, the only publication dedicated to enterprise applications of immersive tech.
mix of immersive tech and content, and what the market stands to gain from Big IP. We also found out why AR is far from the underdog in this competitive space.
When Jonathan Savage and I initially set out to create a news and features platform focusing on virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR), we were unsure what we would find. As far as we were aware, the market for enterprise applications of immersive tech was new but unexplored. We were pleasantly surprised to see that it’s also poised for significant growth.
With so much happening in immersive tech, we checked in with Mojo Vision, Luxion, Vy, Vobling, Verizon Media and Hyundai to find out how their latest partnerships, product releases and deployments are progressing, what they’ve achieved, and what these brands and developers have in store for the rest of this year and the next.
There is fantastic work being carried out by users and developers, in areas as diverse as training and entertainment, pushing the boundaries of this exciting new medium, and showing enterprises how the work they do can be done better, faster and more cost effectively, across borders, on factory floors and in boardrooms, in hospitals and shopping malls. From the classroom to war zones, there is no frontier where immersive tech cannot be deployed.
There is, too, an interview with VRWorldTech editorial board member Jan Pflueger, of advisXR, who gives his take on innovation within immersive tech for enterprise, and how developers can get in front of the right customers.
But where and how can you keep up with the latest developments? This is why we created VRWorldTech and this magazine, to shine a light on the progress being made, while giving startups the opportunity to showcase their work and put it in front of business decisionmakers. And to educate those decision makers on the immediate benefits of immersive tech, and challenge some of the misconceptions they may hold about its capabilities.
We hope that you enjoy reading VRWorldTech Magazine as much as we did producing it. The magazine will be bimonthly, so you can expect the second issue to be released early next year, following the Christmas break, when we’ll be getting to grips with our new VR headsets. We’d be delighted to hear what you think, any ideas you might have about how we can improve it, and any news of new and exciting products and services that you might currently be working on. We want to turbocharge and continue the conversation, so don’t hesitate to drop us a line.
The focus of this issue, as the cover reveals, is location-based entertainment, an area that Greenlight Insights predicts will be worth $3.6 billion by the end of this year. We spoke to providers VRstudios and Zero Latency on their multiplayer VR experiences, how they work with operators to deploy the right
In this issue 08 HARDWARE
12 LIVE EVENTS
Mojo Vision: Eyes-up and hands-free Following a $58 million funding injection, Mojo Vision is pressing ahead with the development of its invisible computing platform
Hyundai and Live Nation: Get in on the AR Hyundai Motor America’s partnership with Live Nation is just the beginning of how the automotive manufacturer can utilise AR, says chief marketing officer Dean Evans
10 VISUALISATION Luxion: Enterprise-driven updates A ‘customer-driven’ approach is bringing small but regular updates to KeyVR, according to Jesper Mosegaard, from KeyShot maker Luxion
14 ADVERTISING Verizon Media: Fun-filled format Brands increasingly understand the value of immersive advertising, says Jeff Lucas of Verizon Media
16 TRAINING Vy and Vobling: Fighting fire with VR Ole Johnny Haugen of Vy Group and Anders Ribbing of Bublar Group’s Vobling on training in VR and how it saves time, money and the environment
20 INTERVIEW Jan Pflueger: Getting ahead, and staying there Editorial board member Jan Pflueger, of advisXR, gives his take on innovation within immersive tech for enterprise, and how developers can get in front of the right customers
22 LOCATION-BASED ENTERTAINMENT It’s not a game Providers such as VRstudios and Zero Latency are at the top of their games, while AR is far from the underdog in this competitive space
HARDWARE / NEWS
Image: Mojo Vision 14K PPI Display
Eyes-up and hands-free Following a $58 million funding injection, Mojo Vision is pressing ahead with the development of its invisible computing platform By Mark Dugdale
ojo Vision’s top secret augmented reality (AR) project is still very much underwraps, but the California-based startup’s recently revealed 14K PPI Display has been described as “a key building block” of its ‘invisible computing’ platform. Mojo Vision raised $58 million in additional funding earlier this year to continue development of its invisible computing project. Google’s Gradient Ventures and Advantech Capital were among the strategic and venture investors that participated in the funding round. The startup has so far raised more than $108 million, including $50 million+ in November 2018. The funding is being used to develop invisible computing, a platform “where access to information is instantaneous and unobtrusive, but without phones, tablets or other devices getting in the way”, explains Steve Sinclair, senior vice president of product and marketing at Mojo Vision. >>
HARDWARE / NEWS
The promise of Mojo’s invisible computing is that it can give you access to the right information at the right time, yet still allow you to focus on the world right in front of you without the interruption of today’s screens
“Mojo Vision is developing AR solutions that provide critical information, yet still allow people to interact with one another more freely. We recently conducted a survey on technology usage and discovered that many of us are too attached to our devices and are struggling with ineffective or counterproductive ‘digital detox’ behaviours. “The reality is that most of us still need that immediate access to information and have adapted our behaviour to the technology. However, many believe the onus is on tech companies—not consumers—to find a way to make these devices less distracting. This is where Mojo comes in.” The new Mojo 14K PPI Display will enable more seamless, efficient and mobile AR experiences, and is a key building block of the invisible computing platform, according to Sinclair. “It uses MicroLEDs which are brighter than OLED-based pixels, yet require around 10% of the power of LCD-based pixels. With a 1.3µm pixel pitch and a pixel density that’s 300 times greater than current smartphone displays, our 14K PPI Display is the size of a grain of sand and is nearly invisible, making it the world’s smallest and densest dynamic—or moving—content display in the world.” Developing such a small and dynamic display opens up the possibility of
Steve Sinclair Senior vice president of product and marketing at Mojo Vision
AR becoming a part of our everyday lives, at play and in work. Heavy, tethered headsets and even attractive smart glasses do not offer the decreased distraction that Mojo is attempting to achieve. Sinclair says: “AR devices on the market today, while technologically powerful and advanced, fail to check the boxes necessary to become mass market consumer products. A successful AR platform will not only offer utility throughout the day, but will also deliver true mobility and social acceptability, all at a reasonable price.” “If you can’t put on an AR solution in the morning and wear it all day long—if doesn’t look and feel normal— it won’t find traction. The promise of Mojo’s invisible computing is that it can give you access to the right information at the right time, yet still allow you to focus on the world right in front of you without the interruption of today’s screens.” The future is eyes-up and hands-free Enterprise stands to benefit from the invisible computing revolution, too. Sinclair says: “From an enterprise perspective, the industry is starting to see a shift from interest in adoption, to pilot deployments. Gartner estimates that by 2022, 70% of enterprises will be testing
AR/VR/XR for larger scale rollouts in their workflows and processes, especially in healthcare, manufacturing, logistics, education, and other fields that have specific needs that are addressed by immersive technology. He adds: “AR and VR are also gaining traction with those in customer-facing roles, such as guest services and retail, two areas for which invisible computing is ideally suited.” “Imagine a world where you could be chatting with a customer while simultaneously accessing product options and pricing without having to walk away to find an available screen. With invisible computing, businesses can eliminate the need for devices that interrupt face-toface conversations, allowing employees to make real human connections. The role of technology in our society is rapidly evolving—becoming one that’s more focused on bringing us closer to the people and the world around us, eyes-up and hands-free.”
VISUALISATION / NEWS
Luxion: Enterprise-driven updates A ‘customerdriven’ approach is bringing small but regular updates to KeyVR, as Jesper Mosegaard, from KeyShot maker Luxion, explains By Mark Dugdale 10
eyShot maker Luxion is working on an update to the new KeyVR feature that will allow multiple enterprise users to work on a design in virtual reality (VR) across distance. KeyVR, the new feature for visualisation platform KeyShot that allows designers to take a scene and generate an interactive VR experience with the click of a button, was updated in September, with a level of realism introduced for glass, solid glass, gems, and dielectrics that California-headquartered Luxion says is yet to be seen in VR software. As part of an approach that “is very customer-driven, with smaller updates made more often”, according to director of products Jesper Mosegaard, Luxion is working on multi-user experiences in VR across distance for its enterprise customers. Mosegaard explains: “In our initial
release, we focused on the local experience. In the current version of KeyVR, you can interact with the mouse and keyboard as well as within the VR environment. This allows for a two-person experience where one person is exploring the product in VR, while the other is guiding the setup through our more traditional on-screen UI, changing VR vantage point, models, and environments.” “This allows for an efficient process in a local environment but we are actively developing the next step which brings the same ease and efficiency to immersive interactive VR for multiple users over long distances as well.” The Fall 2019 update of KeyVR included improved reflections on transparent materials and support for glass, solid glass, gems and dielectrics, as well as an optimised >>
VISUALISATION / NEWS
load time, the ability to hide and show multiple model sets, and a new move and rotate widget. Mosegaard says: “Since VR is still in many ways a new medium, it is critical that we learn and evolve together with our customers. For this particular update, we improved the loading time of VR scenes—a key factor that strengthens the oneclick experience. We also improved support for the recently released headsets like the Valve Index and Oculus Rift S.”
Image: The Fall Update brought significant improvement in the appearance of transparent materials
“However, the major update was the significant improvement in the appearance of transparent materials like glass, liquids, and other dielectrics. Since many products include parts made out of glass, our users asked for a level of fidelity that has not previously been seen in VR properties like the attenuation of light, so the colour changes in respect to glass thickness, along with the correct transmission and refraction of light through transparent media. We worked hard to deliver all of this in 144hz for top-of-the-line headsets and believe we’ve found the perfect combination of accuracy and performance.” All of these small but significant updates make companies large and small, wherever they utilise VR in the process,
be it a design review or immersive customer-facing experiences, “able to get into VR faster and easier with KeyVR”, Mosegaard says. “From international apparel manufacturers to turn-key design studios, KeyVR is eliminating costly and time-consuming setup and rework while providing results faster. It’s simply a path to VR that no one else is able to provide with the quality of material appearance that is unmatched. It brings us full-circle, where we find KeyVR as the desired solution for both small design firm and large enterprise alike to meet customer needs and solve VR visualisation challenges.”
Mosegaard concludes: “VR is an amazing medium that allows you to experience the product as if it were right next to you. You can determine that elusive ‘feel’ for your product before it’s even produced or in variations unavailable or yet to be imagined. KeyVR complements the product development process by making it easy to get into VR—with just a click of a button.” “Together with KeyShot, the entire process from 3D data to virtual experience is fast and easy. In this, it removes the barriers to VR, and makes experimenting with lighting, materials, and shape both interactive and fun.”
Since VR is still in many ways a new medium, it is critical that we learn and evolve together with our customers Jesper Mosegaard Director of products at Luxion
LIVE EVENTS / NEWS
Hyundai and Live Nation: Get in on the AR Hyundai Motor America’s partnership with Live Nation is just the beginning of how the automotive manufacturer can utilise AR, says chief marketing officer Dean Evans By Mark Dugdale
yundai Motor America’s partnership with Live Nation this summer was its first “big success” in augmented reality (AR), and just the beginning of how the automotive manufacturer can utilise the technology, says chief marketing officer Dean Evans. Hyundai debuted Live Nation’s new suite of customisable AR products at the 25th annual Music Midtown festival in Atlanta, Georgia, last month.
Image: Live Nation’s AR Livestream
The automotive manufacturer executed creative experiences for fans onsite and offsite to promote and explore new features of the completely redesigned 2020 Sonata. Evans explains: “At Hyundai, we think AR is a technology with a lot of potential to provide users with a far more immersive and unique experience. At Music Midtown, our integration with Live Nation helped give music fans a better experience and made it far more captivating for those watching at home.” “The AR experience through the Music Midtown app was a creative way to not only provide attendees with more robust information about the festival, but enabled them to view the live performances in a way they’ve never done before with unique vantage points. We were also able to seamlessly integrate our all-new 2020 Sonata into the experience so people could learn more about this exciting new vehicle that has a distinct styling and a robust offering of new technologies.”
“We think this partnership was a big success and just the start of how you can utilise augmented reality.” The versatility of the technology The versatility of the AR experiences on offer really impressed Evans. He says: “One of the things that stood out was the versatility of the technology to provide several different experiences within a single app. For instance, those at the festival in Atlanta could use AR to explore the festival grounds and unlock special viewing experiences, while those at home were able to view the performances in a total new and immersive way, especially in comparison to the typical live stream. And then we were able to build into that a way for consumers to explore our new Sonata’s exterior, interior, and some key features.” >>
LIVE EVENTS / NEWS
One of the things that stood out was the versatility of the technology to provide several different experiences within a single app Dean Evans Chief marketing officer at Hyundai North America
Evans continues: “New technologies allow you to enhance your creativity. At the end of the day, the most important aspect is the creative insight and how you use technology to inspire action and connect people with your brand. With the AR Sonata, we are giving consumers new ways to learn about and experience our vehicles.” Speaking about the partnership in June, Kevin Chernett, executive vice president of global partnerships and content distribution at Live Nation, was enthusiastic about the potential of AR for brands looking to interact with audiences at live music events. He said: “More than 90% of live music fans globally say brands can enhance the live experience, and augmented reality presents endless opportunities. The ability to drive culture through creativity while also adding value to fans allows brands to elevate expectations at live music events.”
Live Nation’s initial suite of AR products that debuted at Music Midtown included: • AR Livestream: By downloading the Music Midtown app, fans from around the world could click on AR Livestream and point the app to a flat surface from which a 3D, four-sided rotatable viewer appeared for them to view selected performances live from the festival. Hyundai was integrated into the experience by showcasing a custom 3D version of the 2020 Sonata • AR VIP Access: Fans onsite and offsite experienced distinctive vantage points from Music Midtown that are typically reserved exclusively for industry insiders, including side stage, backstage and front of house soundboard. Hyundai’s 2020 Sonata was also be integrated into the experience • AR Fest Lens: Fans attending select festivals were able to point their smartphone toward any of the stages and see a lineup identifying which artists were performing, as well as upcoming acts • AR Intermission: This unlocked the opportunity for brands to creatively reimagine what the stage could look like in between sets, creating memorable, engaging entertainment experiences for fans at concerts and festivals • AR Photo Opp: This identified iconic and/or branded backdrops within venues and festivals. Fans could then snap photos with unique AR filters complete with custom 3D
ADVERTISING / NEWS
Image: AR advertising in action on Moments
Verizon Media: Fun-filled format Brands increasingly understand the value of immersive advertising, says Jeff Lucas of Verizon Media By Mark Dugdale
onsumers’ reactions to augmented reality (AR) experiences have been so positive that Verizon Media is pressing ahead with expanding its immersive advertising capabilities. Jeff Lucas, head of North American sales and global client solutions at Verizon Media, says AR ads, such as those that the media business recently made available through its Moments platform, are “performing incredibly well”, with conversion rates in the 20% to 80% range. Lucas continues: “Perhaps, this is because instead of being disruptive, AR ads are natively placed and interactive experiences that consumers can control and play with, instilling a positive feeling with the brand advertising.” Launched in 2017, Moments is a premium full-screen native advertising platform that scales across Verizon Media’s mobile apps and web properties. In September, the media business extended its AR capabilities to its native Moments format. With the new AR features, Verizon Media’s advertisers can now allow consumers to
interact with, evaluate and test multiple products through their smartphone. According to Verizon Media, users have complete control of each product’s digital AR experience, adjusting by size and position. Additionally, brands can flip the AR experience to a smartphone’s frontfacing camera, unlocking new engagement opportunities with a collection of Face Features. Lucas comments: “Interactivity is what makes extended reality (XR) formats—like AR and virtual reality (VR)— so special. With our new AR features for Moments, for example, advertisers can now allow users to interact with, evaluate and test multiple products in their 3D environment through their smartphone camera and screen.” “The user has complete control of each product’s digital AR experience, adjusting by size and position. Because of the interaction, you get a deep immersion and heightened brand awareness and affinity derived from the experience.” The brands that Verizon Media partners with now understand the value of AR advertising, says Lucas. “Exploring a product digitally >>
ADVERTISING / NEWS prior to purchase puts consumers in the driver’s seat. It’s actually like test-driving a car. It creates a greater sense of confidence in their purchase decisions.” Lucas adds: “In fact, studies bear out that half of all shoppers are more likely to purchase a product if they can experience it online first.” “XR ad formats enhance a brand’s experience on mobile. These formats allow consumers to visualise the brand’s products in real-world environments, seamlessly blending digital and physical spaces to make purchase decisions easier.”
exploring the AR ads, with 64% gaining more confidence after using the feature.” Verizon Communication, meanwhile, is further developing its immersive tech capabilities with the acquisition of software, technology and other assets from startup Jaunt XR for an undisclosed sum of money. No further details were revealed, but Jaunt XR focuses on “the scalable creation and distribution of volumetric video of humans”, according to a statement.
“We are thrilled with Verizon’s acquisition of Jaunt’s technology,” said Mitzi Reaugh, president and chief executive officer of Jaunt XR. “The Jaunt team has built leading-edge software and we are excited for its next chapter with Verizon.” Jaunt XR is assisting Verizon Communications with the transition of select portions of the software and technology for a brief period of time, the startup added in a statement.
“AR ads, in particular, eliminate the guesswork of whether or not a product will look right in the home, office, backyard, or other IRL space. This fun format helps consumers simulate the experience of having a tangible object like a piece of furniture appear right in front of them through their mobile device, combining utility with entertainment to increase sales and minimise returns.” “In fact, one popular retailer ran an AR campaign with us and saw shoppers spending an average of 2.4 minutes interacting with their ads. Shoppers also felt better about their purchase decisions after
Jeff Lucas Head of North American sales and global client solutions at Verizon
AR ads help consumers simulate the experience of having a tangible object like a piece of furniture appear right in front of them through their mobile device, combining utility with entertainment to increase sales and minimise returns
TRAINING / NEWS
Vy and Vobling:
Fighting fire with VR Ole Johnny Haugen of Vy Group and Anders Ribbing of Bublar Group’s Vobling on training in VR and how it saves time, money and the environment By Mark Dugdale
new fire fighting simulator under development at Norway-based transport group Vy removes unnecessary risk for both trainee and instructor while offering scenarios that would otherwise be impossible to reproduce in real life, according to its head of development, Ole Johnny Haugen. Vy Group, one of the largest transport groups in the Nordic region, has teamed up with Vobling, a subsidiary of Nordic extended reality company Bublar Group, to develop a fire fighting training simulator in virtual reality (VR). Haugen, who is head of development at the Vy Competence Center, explains the potential of VR for this kind of training: “VR simulation is very useful for this kind of training in many different ways. It gives us the opportunity to train in a safe environment. There are no real flames or smoke that could harm the trainee or instructors.” “VR also gives us the opportunity to train in a simulation that is as close to the real life experience as possible. It is nearly impossible for us to create this kind of realistic scenario in real life. With the use of VR, we can develop scenarios with both flames and smoke in our own recognisable trains. It also gives us the possibility to focus training specifically on what we need.”
“We can develop our own scenarios so that they focus on different risks.” There are also cost and environmental benefits to consider, says Haugen. “It is cost effective. We only need a 6m by 6m space for VR training, compared to a railway carriage, a place to park it and the cost of waste handling. It is also environmentally friendly, due to there being no smoke or gases released into the atmosphere, or powder or chemical waste needing to be handled.” The fire fighting simulator itself will train users in the use of fire extinguishers and tactics for putting out flames on a train. They will also learn about the dangers of smoke inhalation and how to avoid it. >>
TRAINING / NEWS
Image: Vy’s simulator in action
Haugen concedes that “we have lost the element of real heat exposure and smoke”, but what Vy has lost in realism, it has gained in risk reduction. He says: “VR are giving us a safer and more recognisable scenario to train in.” Vive Pro Eye is ‘currently the best headset out there’ The educational tool for staff training has been developed for HTC Vive Pro Eye. Anders Ribbing, chief executive officer of Vobling and head of enterprise at Bublar Group, explains why this platform was chosen for the fire fighting simulator: “HTC Vive and Valve currently offer the best tech to track objects in VR. We utilise this when tracking the fire extinguisher in our training scenario. HTC has also been a valued partner for us and the Vive Pro Eye is currently the best headset out there that’s got great eye tracking, with okay fidelity and that’s priced at a point that makes it scalable for virtual training.” He adds: “We have yet to apply eye tracking in the fire fighting simulator but
in the next development phase, we will most likely apply foveated rendering in order to enhance graphics, and also visual inspection points and possibly also artificial intelligence/machine learning that based on eye-tracking data will score performance in relation to how experts put out fires.” Ribbing is enthusiastic about the potential of VR for training and education. He says: “Research shows amazing numbers for how much better we learn in VR compared to traditional methods. Using HMDs to create immersive experiences for training and validation, organisations can now reach a new level of employee training.” “There are many strong arguments for why virtual training should be adopted sooner than later. By integrating virtual training into existing educational programmes, organisations will increase training quality, become more sustainable, improve their safety, save costs and strengthen their talent acquisition and retention.” Vobling has also built a state of the art virtual training platform together with
Swedish national railway operator SJ. “This has been rolled out and is now live in 14 locations across Sweden,” Ribbing explains. “Furthermore, we are developing a training excellence offering targeting staff.” Does Ribbing anticipate developing training and education experiences for other mediums? He says: “We can provide access to VR training via mobile, tablets, desktops and also utilise augmented reality (AR) as an extension. However, we do believe that VR is the most powerful medium when it comes to training, but it can be enhanced and made more accessible when users can gain access with any device.” “We foresee more usage of AR in areas such as service and maintenance, troubleshooting and step by step instructions and in education rather than training.”
THE BUSINESS OF M A N U FA C T U R E D REALITIES w w w. v r w o r l d t e c h . c o m
VRWorldTech is a must-read resource if you want to stay up-todate on progress within immersive technology. Our content sits between the technologyâ€™s creators and developers and the business leaders who can benefit from its use and application. We cover the stories that make immersive technology a reality.
EDITORIAL BOARD / INTERVIEW
Jan Pflueger: Getting ahead, and staying there VRWT: Where is the most innovative and interesting work being done in immersive technology for enterprise right now? Jan Pflueger: We all are aware of
Editorial board member Jan Pflueger, of advisXR, gives his take on innovation within immersive tech for enterprise, and how developers can get in front of the right customers By VRWorldTech
the success stories of companies using extended reality (XR) for training, maintenance and simulation. Healthcare use cases are increasing rapidly, as well. I think we are still in a phase in which businesses are beginning to talk about solutions. This happens partially, and, in most cases, there is still yet to be a full integration into product development workflows or complete lifecycle integration. I am convinced that when enterprises are ready to take full advantage of XR technologies, they are going to change a lot in their processes. As an outcome, we will see many innovative approaches for the integration of XR as a regular tool in the workflows and infrastructure of the future. Technically, we talk about the maturity of basic ingredients such as computer vision,
EDITORIAL BOARD / INTERVIEW
tracking and mapping, sensor and display technology, machine learning, streaming and content pipelines, to name just a few. There is a broad range of identified use cases for machine learning/artificial intelligence (AI) and computer vision, and these are still ahead in terms of activities and deliver the needed power to drive XR. The manifold pieces of technology required for an ecosystem are also represented geographically. I am following the activities of companies in the different US technology hotspots, but we also see a lot of innovative companies with a focused enterprise approach in Germany. The Austrian area was a melting pot for virtual reality (VR) technologies in the past and still brings some great solutions, especially in the field of tracking and recognition. The UK is growing fast and adds more and more to 3D scanning, reconstruction, and even storytelling. The gaming hotspots spread over the world are not only famous for creating content but influencing the UX of enterprise applications and delivering streaming and distribution technology. Israel is well known for computer vision and AI, but also for security solutions— all that is needed for an XR ecosystem. I also see a lot of potential in the eastern areas and with the EERIC initiative, we try to build a bridge between the different regions. Like the AR cloud will shape the ecosystem, there will be no single region not contributing to the growth of XR and you will see innovative startups and solution providers all over the world. There are no borders to be innovative and every spot has its own flavor.
VRWT: What advice do you have for
immersive tech developers seeking enterprise customers, but don’t know how best to go about it?
Jan Pflueger: First, try to understand
your customer. Identify clearly where the pain points are and in which scenarios your solution could bring improvement. You must talk a lot to figure out the potential for integration and must be
flexible enough to adapt your solution to the specific needs of a company.
partnership with the industry, but also getting support in your field.
As a solution provider and consultant, you need an internal connector who becomes your mentor inside of the company.
VRWT: Immersive tech developers
Be aware of the fact that you could find an environment that is very restricted, and not everything works the same way as it might out in the world. Be especially prepared for data security and IT architecture requirements in case your approach is based on IT components. Change your perspective and identify the (in most cases) invisible hurdles. Most enterprises are divided into several business areas and own specific processes to fulfill their daily business. Introducing new technologies or systems does not mean dealing with technical aspects only, but also to convince how it will integrate into the existing infrastructure and organisational structure (or even change it). Talking about immersive tech is the most essential part of giving the customer a chance to experience what benefits you will bring into the company. It is quite difficult to demonstrate an immersive experience using 2D technology and PowerPoint slides. Create an experience and a package that fits perfectly to it. This should focus on the main story and enables you to present without any fear of a bad user experience.
VRWT: How should they get in touch with enterprises?
Jan Pflueger: Create awareness! If you do not have a big marketing budget and everybody is just waiting to get access to your solution, you need to be present at events where relevant customers are visiting, and of course, care about your professional network. The first and most helpful step is to be part of a community to obtain access to a platform for exchange and connections with the right people, but also to collect feedback from different perspectives. It’s not only about how to approach a
need support through partnerships. How useful are groups such as XR Bavaria to developing ‘local’ ecosystems? Should developers seek them out?
Jan Pflueger: Communities, in general, are an important factor to let their areas of interest grow. There are different kinds of setups. Above all, you need an openminded group. It is about the mixture you usually find in communities and with all the different aspects, you will get a great insight into the current state of tech and future development. Much more beneficial is to get in touch with like-minded experts to get feedback about your own work and to be open to new ideas growing out of the mixture of different scopes and solutions. XR Bavaria is a great example of the professional setup of a group with identified core topics and leads. This makes it easy to find the right expertise and connection between areas. I asked Martin Rieger, founder and co-chairman of XR Bavaria, about why a developer should engage in and with such groups, and I totally agree with and can confirm his statement. He said: “You can easily get stuck when doing pioneer work, that’s why exchange with like-minded developers is so important to access different approaches. In such a small field of XR experts, it not only helps to network but to encourage each other to find new paths and help XR grow.” “While discussions on the internet are good, it’s a common base that connects local drivers since the whole medium is not run by random people online, but heads that are tangible to a person. In the end, those believers can be geniuses in their fields and still have a hard time being successful when not seeing the whole picture and knowing the right people from consumers, businesses to politics.” So, let’s connect and grow!
It’s not a game Providers such as VRstudios and Zero Latency are at the top of their games, while AR is far from the underdog in this competitive space
The slow uptake of virtual reality (VR) gaming is indicative of this trend. Players haven’t taken to VR like many believed they would. Law firm Perkins Coie surveyed 200 executives for its annual VR and augmented reality (AR) study earlier this year, and while 54% of respondents said gaming is where they expect to see the most investment in the next 12 months, negative user experience, through bulky hardware or technical glitches, along with a lack of content, were considered major barriers to mass adoption. Where immersive tech for consumers is really taking off is location-based entertainment. Market intelligence firm Greenlight Insights expects the global market to be worth $3.6 billion by the end of 2019, and $11.8 billion >>
Image: Zero Latency in Mumbai
Immersive technology is tricky. Users are unlikely to know whether it fits until they try a headset on for the first time. If its uncomfortable, awkward, unappealing or unattractive, then it’ll be discarded and replaced with something that’s more comfortable.
by 2023. And the market is gaining traction, with Marvel Studios recently teaming up with VR studio The VOID’s ILMxLAB to launch a compelling new, limited-run experience for the millions of Marvel Cinematic Universe and comics fans around the world called Avengers: Damage Control. The location-based VR entertainment experience features elements such as heat and wind to create a more immersive experience. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said: “We’re always looking for new stories and corners of the universe for our characters to explore. Now, after more than a decade of amazing support, we are excited to give fans the same opportunity: to be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.” “Expanding how people can experience the MCU is something we’re always trying to do, and in Avengers: Damage Control, we wanted to give fans the >>
Location-based entertainment market in brief VR in location-based entertainment is set to reach $3.6 billion this year, according to Greenlight Insights. The 2019 Location-Based Virtual Reality Industry Report forecasts and analyses the adoption and use of VR in arcades, entertainment centers, malls, cinemas, theme parks, museums, internet cafes, and other out-of-home venues, and provides overviews of major competitors in the field, including Dave & Buster’s, The VOID and Zero Latency. Building on an expected value of $3.6 billion in 2019, the global location-based VR sector is projected to reach $11.8 billion by 2023. This is predicted on a compound annual growth rate of 31.1% from 2019. Greenlight Insights also predicts the number of venues offering location-based VR worldwide to increase to more than 13,000 locations this year, before growing to more than 24,500 sites in 2023. VR-specialised arcades and family entertainment centres each account for 39% of the sector’s total value in 2019. They are the largest segments of the global location-based VR industry, according to Greenlight Insights.
Image: Zero Latency in Andorra
North America currently accounts for 42% of the global location-based VR sector value, but by 2023, its international market share will decrease to 40% of the sector’s total revenue, while the emerging Asia Pacific will grow to nearly 25% of the global market. Alexis Macklin, research manager at Greenlight Insights, explained: “The location-based virtual reality industry has grown quickly since 2016, with industry leaders starting to consolidate. Operators have warmed up to incorporating immersive experiences into their venues, as the keys to profitability have been discovered.” “Looking to the next three years, more large operators will be investing, and virtual reality installations will be both family-friendly and attractive to first-time users, offering more titles that anyone can enjoy, at any age and at any skill level.”
Someone with a VR headset at home is unable to experience what a lot of location-based providers are capable of. Hardware such as haptic vests let you feel like you are actually inside of the game and offers some of the most immersive experiences
chance to suit up alongside some of their favourite heroes for the first time ever.” “The opportunity to bring such a beloved universe alive through immersive storytelling has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” added Shereif Fattouh, senior producer at ILMxLAB. “Avengers: Damage Control lets you feel what it’s like to shoot repulsor blasts with your own two hands, suited up in Shuri’s latest technology. This original adventure allows you to go beyond the screen, and become a character in the story itself.” Sixense Studios president Joel Breton, a veteran video game developer with 20 platinum-selling titles to his name, says the real success stories in the locationbased entertainment sector started “from the ground up, and played to the strengths of what an immersive experience can really mean”. The key ingredients for Breton are top-ofthe-line hardware and attractive content. He says: “Someone with a VR headset at home is unable to experience what a lot of location-based providers are capable of. Hardware such as haptic vests let you feel like you are actually inside of the game
Joel Breton President of Sixense Studios
and offers some of the most immersive experiences. All of the best providers in location-based right now are using those extra peripherals for more immersive experiences. They have also focused on the content from the beginning, too. The content is what draws people in and has them talking about it.” The best location-based entertainment providers are successfully integrating these two components, according to Breton. He says: “Take, for example, Namco-Bandai’s VR Zone franchise. Mario Kart VR is one of the best that anyone has created. That content is partnered with robotic karts that add that extra bit of immersion. When you go over a bump in the game, you feel that bump in real life. It’s on a motion platform as well, so you’re able to feel when you go around a corner.“ “It’s that level of immersion that most people can’t replicate at home.” VRstudios One location-based entertainment provider enjoying significant success right now is US-based VRstudios, whose
most notable partnership is with Dave & Buster’s, which has 125 restaurant and entertainment complexes throughout North America. VRstudios and Dave & Buster’s began offering VRcade Arena experiences, including ‘eSports’ experience PowerPlay and Barking Irons Gunslinger, at the Dave & Buster’s location in Tampa, Florida. Guests have the choice of multiple types of VR attractions, both on Dave & Buster’s popular proprietary multiplayer simulator, and the free-roaming environment of VRcade Arena.
VRcade Arena is a free-roaming warehouse-scale environment in which up to eight players can participate in ‘eSports’ such as PowerPlay and high-end content such as Terminal 17. This is the kind of offering that Breton described as among the most successful right now, but providers such as VRstudios are keeping their products and services flexible to suit the requirements of their customers. VRstudios chief executive officer Kevin Vitale commented: “VRstudios’ Arena products are part of a larger portfolio of systems that are available in multiple
Image: PowerPlay from VRstudios
configurations to flexibly meet the needs of location-based entertainment operators. While our systems are available turnkey, we also offer unmatched flexibility to create configurations to accommodate each location. And, all of the VRcade systems and the proprietary Dave & Buster’s simulator are run from the same easy-to-use operating software, which is our AMP—Attraction Management Platform.” He continues: “Our systems, including the VRcade Arena, are popular because of the unique, highly interactive, multiplayer experiences available through multiple content titles that are purpose-built for commercial VR. They are amazing, fun, competitive and social in ways that can’t be experienced at home or through other systems.” “For example, our VRcade PowerPlay is the only true VR ‘eSport’, or ‘VRsport’, that is a highly athletic, match-play, team competition and almost as fun to watch as it is to play. Players are immediately immersed in a competitive, futuristic arena that integrates the dynamics of laser tag and dodgeball in exciting, fast-paced matches that are never the same game twice.” Content is king, too. Vitale says: “No other provider has delivered as many ‘Big IP’ commercial VR titles as VRstudios. It takes a unique technical and creative skill set to produce super high quality immersive experiences in VR that are accessible and played millions of times (literally), while at the same time preserving the character of the brand and staying true to the storyline. We make it possible for players to go inside to experience and interact with the movie or game IP unlike anything else.” “When done correctly, licensed content can create additional pull. That said, Big IP won’t make up for a poorly developed experience, and there is very much room for high-quality original content. VRstudios has produced successful >>
Our technology and products are excellent as they are architected and built for enterprise operation and scale. [We] offer an unmatched level of flexibility to place and operate the system on the store floor to maximise the return on investment, including otherwise underutilised space, that’s incremental to their existing attractions Kevin Vitale Chief executive officer of VRstudios
titles in both categories for Dave & Buster’s and others.” The long-standing partnership between VRstudios and Dave & Buster’s is a good example of how the locationbased entertainment provider-operator relationship can be successful and extract significant value from immersive tech. Vitale comments: “VRstudios very much values our longstanding relationship with Dave & Buster’s. They are smart and calculated in their approach to rolling out VR attractions that fit their business model and customer demographics. As demonstrated with their highly successful VR simulator, they are a true enterprise operator that thinks and works in scale across every store location around the country.” “Our technology and products are excellent as they are architected and built for enterprise operation and scale. In the case of the VRcade Arena, we also offer an unmatched level of flexibility to place and operate the system on the store floor to maximise the return on investment, including otherwise underutilised space, that’s incremental to their existing attractions.” >>
Integral to the VRstudios strategy and value proposition is to deliver VR solutions to its partners “that are complementary and incremental to their core existing business”. “We are not creating our own competitive destinations or building out our own facilities,” Vitale explains. “We understand that the operators have invested heavily in their facilities and building a customer base that is the heart of their business. Our goal is to enable them to deliver new, immersive experiences to delight their customers and add new sources of revenue.” He adds: “VR is the enabling technology and has some appeal, but it’s not enough on its own and it won’t sell itself. Just like everything else, the higher the quality and the better the experience, combined with an exciting presentation and promotion, will yield the highest dividends for the operator.” “The most effective operators realise that when presented properly, commercial VR can be fun for the spectators as well as the players. There are numerous benefits in addition to being a new source of direct player revenue, including pulling additional revenue from people spending more time in the facility purchasing food and beverages, and additional play time, along with the potential for a ‘thought leadership’ image uplift in the commercial and financial market.” Zero Latency Another location-based entertainment provider attracting attention is Zero Latency, which aims to have at least 100 VR multiplayer arena sites opened before the end of 2020. In August, Zero Latency opened in Dallas, Texas, thereby securing its 33rd location globally and its ninth in the US. The venue was also the first in North America to operate Zero Latency’s Generation 2
Image: PowerPlay from VRstudios
VR System, developed in partnership with HP, Intel and Microsoft. Discussing the success that Zero Latency—launched in 2013 and headquartered in Melbourne, Australia— has so far enjoyed, chief technology officer Scott Vandonkelaar says: “Zero Latency has now experimented in a wide variety of environments and settings, and the great news is that we have seen all of the formats work well.” “At a cursory glance, there isn’t even much similarity between our top venues; what really makes them perform well is a consistently fantastic customer experience both in and out of the game, as well as their strategy for finding new customers. The majority of players come in by referral from another player, so the player experience is always key. You have to exceed expectations. But you can’t rely on word-of-mouth alone, and it’s going to depend on where you are as to how you can tackle that challenge.” For Zero Latency, the combination and successful integration of technology and
content are important to an experience that users will not only enjoy but discuss. Yet three basic ingredients have contributed significantly to Zero Latency’s own success. Vandokelaar comments: “We have really focused on making experiences with as much player interaction as possible, and making sure we are getting the most out of the technology we have.” “The critical components to a VR experience are your visuals in the HMD, how you interact, and what you hear. Everything after that will build on the experience, but if you have those pieces nailed, then you will have happy customers,” he says. “If you don’t get those pieces right then it won’t matter what else you do with your experience; it won’t feel good. None of those three things needs to be complex or expensive, they just need to feel right to the user. When someone is in your experience they need that world to behave, look and sound like they would expect or better. If it doesn’t, then it essentially feels >>
When someone is in your experience they need that world to behave, look and sound like they would expect or better. If it doesn’t, then it essentially feels ‘worse’ than reality, which doesn’t entice people to come back and do it again, or to tell other people about it Scott Vandonkelaar Chief technology officer at Zero Latency
‘worse’ than reality, which doesn’t entice people to come back and do it again, or to tell other people about it.” Interestingly, Zero Latency has focused on original content for its location-based entertainment experiences. Vandokelaar says: “Our experience so far, and more broadly in location-based entertainment VR in general, is showing that there is a lot of room for both original content and licensed products.” “To date, Zero Latency has grown purely on original content and we are extremely proud of that. It has given us the flexibility to experiment in ways that
an IP holder might not be comfortable with, and to try out some new ideas without having to worry about minimum guarantees. With all the knowledge we have about what makes a great game, as well as having the scale and reach to get content in front of a lot of customers, we are now in the process of licensing AAA IP for our platform and we’ll have something coming out in 2020. We aren’t switching over to licensed products entirely, though. It’s still very early days for VR, and there is still a lot to learn and experiment with.” >>
LOCATION-BASED ENTERTAINMENT NexTech and AR Studios It’s easy to get caught up in the potential of location-based VR entertainment and forget what other areas of immersive tech have to offer. Canada-headquartered NexTech AR is moving ahead with the production of immersive AR content at its new Hollywood studios.
any more successful. AR, on the other hand, has the potential to change our lives in many ways, especially when spatial computing becomes a common feature on smartphones.”
Dr Barry Sandrew, who was recently appointed as chief operating officer and executive producer at AR Studios, is working with NexTech president Paul Duffy to develop the new venture and Presence, a proprietary location-based entertainment venue.
“Many proponents of VR can’t grasp the immersive quality of AR, particularly via a smartphone as a display device. They consider anything less than complete isolation a non-immersive experience. However, to the average consumer, the smartphone has become an extension of themselves. The average person surfs the web, communicates, executes financial transactions and even watches full-length movies on their smartphones.”
According to Sandrew, AR “has the potential to change our lives in many ways, especially when spatial computing becomes a common feature on smartphones”. He explains: “To date, I cannot point to one non-gaming VR title that has generated sufficient revenue to achieve a return on investment. Nor do I see any VR content on the horizon that would be
“When you view a 360 experience in VR, it’s admittedly immersive, but to the viewer wearing a VR HMD, it’s also anticipated to be exactly what it is—there are no surprises. However, if you place that 360 experience inside a CGI portal that’s positioned inside your actual living room, viewed as AR via a smartphone, that same 360 experience becomes magic.
If you then enter the portal so that you’re surrounded by the 360 experience, it becomes very immersive.” “Unlike VR, it also becomes social and collaborative because others can view your smartphone display at the same time, you’re viewing it.” AR Studios “is expanding the potential of AR via its proprietary Presence venue, which is an innovative, high-tech form of location-based AR (LBAR)”, he says. “Presence removes the bandwidth and volumetric display barriers that have prevented AR from gaining broad acceptance.” “Couple Presence with AR Studios’ uniquely engaging storytelling and performance content, and you have what we expect to be a winning formula for attracting mass adoption.”
Dr Barry Sandrew Chief operating officer and executive producer at AR Studios, NexTech
Presence removes the bandwidth and volumetric display barriers that have prevented AR from gaining broad acceptance. Couple Presence with AR Studios’ uniquely engaging storytelling and performance content, and you have what we expect to be a winning formula for attracting mass adoption
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The launch issue of VRWorldTech Magazine, the only publication dedicated to immersive technologies such as AR, VR and MR, and enterprise, fe...
Published on Oct 17, 2019
The launch issue of VRWorldTech Magazine, the only publication dedicated to immersive technologies such as AR, VR and MR, and enterprise, fe...