Welcome to our Employee Highlight Reel where we introduce to you the talent behind Yulio – and the people whose ideas and sense of how VR and AR should work have shaped Yulio from the ground up.
Yulio’s team are working in roles that for the most part didn’t exist 5+ years ago, the VR job market was pretty minuscule. So the other experiences that led people here have created both expertise and variety in our team. And our history may lead you to the perfect VR job.
This week, we’re going to learn more about Kan, one of the members of our Development Team. Kan Li is a Senior Developer here at Yulio and one of the original employees of Yulio! Kan works on both the front-end and back-end coding for Yulio, but he also has the responsibility of DevOps. DevOps is an important part of Yulio because it centers around our promise to be fast and future-proof. DevOps enables us to have faster release and deployment cycles, which means that we’re able to offer new and exciting products/features to our clients in a shorter period of time than some of our competitors. Keeping to our promise about being agile, business-ready and future-proof, Kan ensures that we’re constantly moving forward and that everything is operating smoothly and securely.
So Kan, tell me a bit about yourself.
I studied computer science at the University of Toronto. Programming is something that I’ve always passion for ever since I was a kid in school. I was a gamer – so I always found programming elements in those very interesting. When I first got my computer I remember being so excited so I installed a bunch of games and I’d play all day! At the time, I played a lot of popular strategy games! They were my favorite.
What’s your role here at Yulio?
So, I’m a developer like most of the guys on the development team; so I do work mainly on front-end and back-end coding. I’m also responsible for the DevOps, which is at the core of how Yulio operated. Basically, I make sure that the server is always up-and-running and ready to implement anything we’re ready to push to production. We always want to make sure that our product is operating smoothly and that our clients have the tools they need to be successful when working in VR!
How did you find Yulio?
Actually, Yulio found me. I was working at a company called KiSP before starting at Yulio. So, KiSP is essentially where Yulio took off – KiSP is a visualization software and Yulio’s sister company. Our Managing Director and CEO of KiSP, Robert Kendal, had this idea of Yulio Technologies – he wanted to use digital reality (mainly VR at the time) to better present the unpresentable. He understood the gaps in the visualization world from his work with KiSP and asked us to start working on Yulio as a project. One thing led to another, and he decided that it was time to build Yulio out as its own company! At that point, any of the programmers that were involved in Yulio projects had the opportunity to move forward and become the first employees of Yulio Technologies!
Do you find your work at Yulio more enjoyable, interesting, difficult because of the VR aspects?
So when I was at KiSP they already had this product – for one, it was massive – and secondly, it was already an established product, so most of the work that needed to be done was maintenance. The main task was understanding the app well enough so we knew how it worked when it came to investigating things like bug fixes – we needed to know where to find these issues and how to resolve them. There were also feature releases here and there, but most part we worked on understanding and tweaking the product.
In comparison, Yulio is brand new – and still is – and working with technology that’s hot-off-the-press. We’re building Yulio basically from scratch, so there’s plenty of opportunities to use new technologies and apply new skills that we didn’t have the chance to work with at KiSP, which as a programmer, is very exciting to do!
What was your first experience with virtual reality?
So before I came to Yulio, I didn’t know much about VR, and I had never tried it for myself. So of course on day 1, Ian Hall (CPO) introduced me to VR by strapping me into his first generation Oculus VR setup. It was a tethered rig that streamed from his laptop and the experience, although the name slips my mind, was essentially a dinosaur that was chasing you. In my opinion, it was mind-blowing! I thought it was really really cool.
If you got to dream up any VR experience and immerse yourself into it, what would you choose?
I would like to see some kind of fantasy role-playing game – I think that would be cool!
Outside of your VR Job, what are your hobbies?
I enjoy gardening in my spare time – I grow all kinds of vegetables! I find gardening very rewarding… Sometimes you can spend a lot of time working on something and you never get to see much or any reward, but with gardening – the more work you put into it, the more reward you reap! So I find it very satisfying. I also like watching horror movies with my wife – I think we’ve watched most horror movies together!
What’s your favorite Friday afternoon office game that we’ve played?
One of my favorites is called “Landmine” – where you lead your blindfolded team member through a course with obstacles – it was a very fun game! I also liked a game called “Telestrations” – it’s sort of like pictionary and telephone combined into one game!
Well, maybe because I’m a programmer some people might not expect this, but I used to play a lot of sports! I used to be in the basketball club… I was always the tallest kid in the class, so naturally, they wanted me to join the team – but I played for 2 or 3 years. I’m also surprisingly good at long-distance running! I was first place in my school for the marathon!
We’d like to say a big thanks for Kan for taking the time to sit with us for a little Q&A about himself! Stay tuned for some more interviews with the staff that power Yulio, and discover how we’re all learning more every day about our VR job!
Looking to learn more about practical VR for business? Sign up for our free 5-day email course and learn all of the key understandings and critical considerations you need to know before adopting a VR solution. Done that and want to give Yulio a try? Sign up for our free 30-day trial and we’ll give you full access to our feature set to see how you like working with Yulio!
Last year, Japanese company FOVE released the world’s first VR headset with built-in eye tracking — the technology showed a lot of promise, and in the months that followed, Facebook, Apple & Google all acquired eye-tracking startups to incorporate the technology into their respective XR devices.
So what’s the big deal with eye-tracking, and how can it impact the VR/AR industry?
Better Performance & Natural Focus
Eye tracking allows developers to optimize the performance of VR/AR experiences by focusing system resources specifically where the user is currently looking. This not only lowers VR’s high barrier to entry but also gives creators the ability to create breathtaking visuals by using their processing resources wisely.
Another major visual improvement comes from the fact that eye-tracking technology can simulate natural focus realistically — a feature that has remained thoroughly absent from VR headsets so far.
A New Way to Design User Interfaces and UX
With the screen-based devices we use today, whenever we want to perform any action we need to tell our device what we want it to do. Usually, we do this by touching a certain area of the screen (touch screen interactions), or by pointing at things with a cursor (using a mouse).
Before doing any of those things, however, we always look at what we’re about to interact with, and this is where eye-tracking comes in.
It cuts out the middleman, allowing us to engage with content by simply looking at it. This will give rise to new ways of building User Interfaces that feel natural and are incredibly accurate, completely replacing the need for cursors and most touch based interactions altogether. Eye-tracking interactivity is also discrete by nature, and may allow us to use immersive computers in small public spaces — possibly answering one of the biggest design questions in VR/AR today.
An Analytics Oasis
Eye-tracking will allow VR/MR creators to have access to an unprecedented level of usage analytics — not only they’ll know exactly what users have looked at or ignored throughout an experience, they’ll also be able to accurately measure engagement through pupil tracking.
You may have heard that human pupils dilate on physical attraction: but it goes much further than that. Pupil expansion betrays not only physical attraction
but also mental strain and emotional engagement. It can even go as far as to predict the actions of a user seconds before they do it (explored and explained in detail in my article about the future of immersive education).
All of this will be immensely powerful for developers and will allow them to combine these bits of data to create immersive software that’s 100% reactive to a user’s emotions and truly understands what’s going through their mind as they go further into the experience.
New Gameplay Mechanics and Interactions
Eye-tracking will also give way to a number of new interactions and game-play mechanics that were never possible before — virtual characters will now be aware of when you’re looking at them, even going as far as to cross-examine what you’re looking at and why.
Users will be able to aim with their eyes, make narrative choices by simply gazing at an object, and meaningfully change the world around them with almost subconscious gestures, opening up a number of new opportunities for creative storytelling and interaction design.
We’d like to thank Lucas Rizzotto for his contribution to our blog from his collection of work. See more of his articles here!
Here at Yulio, we take advantage of our heatmap feature to track our user’s gaze duration, and where their attention truly lies on within a scene. Want to try this feature out? Sign up for a free Yulio account and get full access to our feature set for your first 30 days!
AR, Architecture, Business, VRYou might be noticing, even in your own school or office, that technology is becoming more and more prevalent and useful as time goes on. We’re all slowly adapting to how technology, no matter the kind, can be beneficial for daily tasks when utilized well, and we’re loving it!
The satisfaction is unbelievable when you can walk into a room and own the technology around you without complications during major or routine tasks. *cue mic drop*
And shouldn’t that be how you feel all the time when you’re using technology in the workplace? Technology should be something you can rely on to bring your work to that next level – It should be a compliment as opposed to causing friction – and that’s exactly what we’ll see going forward – more technology that compliments our work and daily routines with less roadblocks and inefficiencies to slow you down.
We’re moving into an age of business-ready digital transformation within the A&D space, which means that we’re beginning to adapt technology, and ultimately it’s changing how we work, how we communicate and how we create or maintain our working relationships. Remember when Skype was first introduced, or even MSN Messenger? It was revolutionary because it was an instant way to communicate with someone without picking up a phone, and you could stay at your desk and multitask while collaborating with your peers – that’s what digital transformation is all about.
The future of VR
Technology is advancing in ways that fit our workflows better, in fact, within the next 5-10 years, we’re going to witness a huge spike with how we use VR/AR in the workplace. It’s expected to become the next major computing platform, and it’s even being compared to the rise of the smartphone! (Remember way-back when no one had a smartphone and then suddenly EVERYONE had one? VR technology is expected to be the same!) Even students are learning how to work with virtual reality before they enter the workforce to better prepare themselves for this digital transformation! This crazy change is coming full-force, but it’s not going to affect you and your business, right?
Well, maybe see for yourself. Take a look at this graph from Goldman Sachs Profiles in Innovation report where you see their prediction for where VR/AR is going to be used by-industry – as you can see, it’s drastically different than what’s relevant in today’s workplaces, so it’s extremely plausible that this tidal wave of a technology shift is headed your way too. According to this study, about 35% of architectural firms are already using some form of digital reality in their firms today and have plans to expand in the future, and separate from those, 29% of the firms in the study are looking into adopting the technology within the next 5 years.
With that, we’re going to see more and more people embracing it as it’s coming out – VR/AR tech will provide more opportunities for practicality and usability within the workplace.
In a survey done by Microsoft and RIBA Architecture, a respondent said, “It’s a different way of working, a new process model and [it’s] more agile, where data is produced once, and is used many times for more tasks”… Pretty revolutionary stuff if you ask me!
The key to productivity
Digital transformation is not just the adoption of new technology, but rather it’s a fundamental shift in culture supported and based within technology. 56% of survey respondents recognize that the digital transformation is going to create better atmospheres to complete work in while also improving client outcomes in the process, so a lot of employees are going to be looking for this cutting-edge technology in their workplace. You also have to keep in mind that by 2025, millennials will make up 75% of our workforce and a study by Penn Schoen Berland found that 77% of millennials interviewed WANT to use VR/AR because they think it will make their jobs more productive. So if millennials are on-board with it, then we better take initiative and get the tech while it’s ripe and before your competition blows you out of the water with it.
The key to survival??
For the architecture and design communities, the adoption of VR technology isn’t really an option. In fact, 55% of survey respondents actually say, whether their firms adopt the technology or not is going to be a HUGE factor for whether or not their business will stay relevant or even thrive going forward. With this being the general opinion, we’re seeing a lot of firms slowly investigating what they need to do to keep up with their competition, and their employees and customers expectations of what they should be delivering.
Research shows that many architects see the great potential of digital transformation and how it can bring great improvements in efficiency in particular. I mean, take for instance how architects and designers used to go about their design processes. Originally it was old-school pencil on paper and small-scale replica models, then we started seeing the evolution of the computer and designers were able to achieve more complex iterations like accurately-scaled down floor plans and 3D-models created from CAD programs, and now that digital reality is taking the fore-front, there is so much potential in the realm of virtual, augmented and mixed realities as well that can be applied to designers work. Digital reality technology has the power to bring designs to life, enabling clients to really experience a design before it’s tangible. Team members, clients, and contractors work together as virtual teams, exploring, reviewing and agreeing on design choices – and then they can even put the client into the heart of the design, leaving no room for misinterpretation. This won’t only save time and money in the initial stages – but it’ll ultimately minimize on-site or post-construction design changes that can be extremely costly.
More than half of the architects and designers that were surveyed agree that within the last 5 years, there have been huge changes in their workplaces in terms of digital transformation, specifically around how projects are delivered to clients. 41% said their journey has drastically changed the way that their business runs and almost 90% agree that digital reality is transforming how they’re currently working – so why are businesses so hesitant to adopt VR/AR if there’s such a strong demand for customers, employees, AND overall productivity??
What if you’re not sure where to start?
Sometimes digital transformation within a firm gets lost. 10% of individuals surveyed don’t know where they fall on their journey, but that’s not because they don’t want change within the workplace – it’s usually because the next steps, technologically, aren’t clear. For instance, VR has commonly been this ‘hyped’ technology that people use for cool roller coaster experiences and the odd video game up until a couple of years ago, so obviously if that’s the common assumption, you wouldn’t invest big bucks either. What a lot of people don’t know is that VR technology has reached a mature point where businesses can find practicality using it. Over ⅔ of architects voice that cost is a huge challenge when it comes to adopting VR for big and small firms alike. Now that the Oculus Go has hit the market as the first stand-alone VR headset ever, there are less friction points for mobile VR versus tethered, but there still has to be significant research into the platform you choose, which means a fairly large time investment from the get-go. Training is also an important consideration – over half of the participants in the study agree that learning curve for the platform, or amount of training required could be a major setback, and could prevent firms from investing.
Our tip is to find a VR solution that mends well with working practices you already live by. Whether that means you find something that has a user-friendly interface that’s simple enough that a senior-level exec can use it, one that works with CAD programs you already use and is compatible with content you already own, and one that has the least amount of barriers when it comes to presenting design iterations to clients. The VR solution you choose shouldn’t cause a lot of friction in your business workflow, otherwise you won’t see the ROI you’d expect to see from adopting the technology (and not to brag… but Yulio does all of these things already and you can have 30 days free to test it out for yourself!).
Because there’s finally this reassurance in the market of VR/AR, businesses are finally trusting their instincts to move forward alongside the technology curve. Most of the people who were a part of this research were in the process of some sort of digital transformation journey for their firm. As illustrated in the graph above, 39% said that they were still in the early stages of adoption and 37% had been investigating and adopting the technology for some time now – but in comparison, 10% of their surveyors hadnot even started looking into the tech yet – and this could be fatal to businesses considering how fast the lack of a technological-edge can leave you in the dust. There are very few firms who believed that they completed their digital transformation journey, but that makes sense because a digital transformation does not necessarily have a means to an end – it’s an ongoing process of change and will continue to adapt with time and technological shifts – so there may never be an absolute end to the journey, but there’s definitely a path that you can start going down to make sure that you’re keeping up with the times.
The important takeaway from all of this research is that if you’re not already investigating a VR solution for your practice, now might be the time! Learning about the VR industry and getting started with VR solutions is a lot faster and more user-friendly than you may think.
Here at Yulio, we take all of this research and their findings (along with 1000+ hours of our own research and user-testing) to heart, and we try and break down the barriers for you to create the best business-ready VR experience possible for you and your clients! With our guidance, you can get up-and-going in as little as a day, seriously. Check out our guiding steps to getting started with a VR solution for your business here! Want to learn more about VR for business before investing? Read our whitepaper on achieving ROI for your business using virtual reality here.
With Collaborate you have the ability to see what other people are seeing, guide them to a spotlighted area and have everyone meet in the same virtual space. Now with Explore Mode, you can start your presentation with an auto pan throughout a VR scene and let all participants explore the full VR project at their own pace.
Any headsets you have at your meeting or tradeshow booth will be in the Collaborate session, and participants can explore the scene, but not leave the project you have chosen to present. People you’re meeting with in-person will all be in the same session on headsets, and remote participants can join from anywhere, in a headset or our browser-based fishtank mode.
As a presenter, you can benefit from this new feature in many ways. One of the most effective use cases is engaging your visitors at the trade shows. Virtual reality has changed the entire trade show landscape by providing the opportunity to have an infinite floor space within the limited booth area. Bringing a VR experience to the booth attracts a higher volume of visitors and during peak times you don’t always have time to accommodate guided tours. But you won’t miss a moment if you can let booth visitors explore your scene on their own while you’re interacting with other clients.
Plus, you can always give your audience the chance to establish a deeper emotional connection by inspecting the area of their most interest in detail right after the presentation or tour.
How do I Launch Explore Mode?
Start out by launching a Collaborate Session. To launch Explore Mode, hit the Explore button at the top of the Participant Panel.
During explore mode, as the host of the Collaborate Session, your screen will pan throughout the selected scene. Don’t worry you can still interact with your screen at any time.
All other participants will have the ability to go off and explore the VR project you have selected for the Collaborate Session. They will be able to switch scenes and activate text/image/audio hotspots (if you have this ability turned on in Collaborate Settings).
To end explore mode and bring all participants back to the desired scene, click the Present button in the Participant Panel.
Some of the winning use cases from our user research:
- Use Explore Mode to show off your VR portfolio in your lobby or office, with a constantly panning VR scene.
- Trade show operation of VR is easier than ever, so visitors to your booth can play and explore a chosen VR project, even when you aren’t able to guide them.
- Allow your clients to explore the VR scene on their own and form emotional attachment before or after your guided experience.
Allowing your meeting participants to explore on their own will let them become more fully engaged with the project, and you can take control to provide a guided tour at any time.
The first item is a BRAND NEW FEATURE that we call, Default Starting View. You requested it and now here it is! Previously, to set the default view for a scene, you would have to adjust the camera angle before you render your scene in your CAD program; but now, you have the freedom to customize this right within your project! Set the custom picture-perfect angle for the starting position of your VR scenes right from the Hotspot editor, and view your entire project’s beauty shots by clicking on the arrows at the bottom left-hand corner of your experience. This feature is a part of our continuing effort to ensure that your VR projects are as stunning as possible. The ability to change the starting position of your VR scenes allows you to strategically show off the most beautiful aspects and angles of your scenes right when your user enters your project without the hassle of re-rendering your files.
First, we’ll show you how to set up your default starting views.
The next time you view your scene in browser mode or in VR, the new Default Starting Direction will be your opening scene.
Just be sure that you don’t select a view that is too disorienting to your viewer, or you may throw off the logical navigation of your scene! For more on navigation, see our Knowledge Base article on Default Starting View.
The second item is a new concept for how we’re positioned in our VR experiences. Forward Gaze Navigation is now the new dominant method for how we see within our VR scenes and navigate hotspots when you’re in VR. Forward Gaze Navigation is a more natural way of navigating your VR project – so no more getting turned around when you jump from hotspot to hotspot. Yulio now remembers which direction you were looking before you selected a new hotspot to jump to, and reflects that same direction in the new hotspot.
Currently, when you enter a Yulio scene, you enter facing whichever way the camera position was set. You’ll still enter into the set starting scene in projects with no floorplan, or if you use the ‘next scene’ arrows to navigate, so you have no changes to look at.
Since VR is a moving medium where your audience will explore in all directions, we recommend that instead, you set your camera positions facing due north.
If you do so, people exploring your scenes using hotspot navigation will always enter facing the way they will naturally expect, and you won’t need to calibrate your thumbnails and floorplan after the fact in Yulio.
However, if you’ve been taking advantage of our floorplan navigation feature, and have a project with a floorplan, you now have a way to orient the viewer in space.
To create a relationship between a floorplan, and a scene that was not rendered with due north cameras, all you have to do is calibrate the cone-shaped field of vision for each scene linked on your floorplan.
Log into your Yulio account and the select the VR project you would like to edit – remember you must have a floorplan and scenes to calibrate.
Remember – you only need to calibrate scenes you added to your floorplan, so if you have a link to something like “outside” or “upstairs” that aren’t on your floorplan, you won’t need to calibrate them.
To learn more and begin using Forward Gaze Navigation, visit our knowledge base.
Both Custom Starting View and Forward Gaze Navigation are available immediately for all Yulio clients to use. To find out more about using any of our features or for training, reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.