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AR, Arts, Design, Technical, VR, Your Business + Virtual Reality

We’ve previously talked about how you should approach designing in VR. But when you’re breaking a sweat to truly try to create this awesome visual experience, there are a host of factors to consider when trying to map out the VR reactions to the space. You’ll be looking at things like: what sounds are going to make them look a certain way, what visual cues are going to push them in a certain direction, deciding if there are items lying around that hint towards a next step or bring on an emotional cue, is the user going to be comfortable enough to keep the headset on? Every. Detail. Matters.



Today, we’re unpacking the specifics for your audience’s VR reactions. Understanding this will significantly improve your VR storytelling and design, and allow you to better tailor your VR content to have a closer connection to your target demographic! Our summary today is based on the learning we’ve done with our many hours of user testing and other research in the field. So, let’s dive in!


First things first… 

First, let’s get something out of the way; no, this blog isn’t going to teach you how you can use ‘the force’ to magically engage with all of your users…(wouldn’t that be cool though??!)





 

Everyone experiences things differently, and to be totally blunt, there is no way to precisely predict the VR reactions of every person on the face of the Earth when they put on a VR headset; it’s simply impossible. That’s why it’s really about finding ways to let people live and experience the story in their own time.


That being said, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to make educated guesses based on proven scientific and statistical facts that work in your favour when it comes to designing for a specific demographic.




Let’s take a look at some of the biology behind VR Reactions

In a study done by a UCLA College Professor of physics, neurology, and neurobiology, Dr. Maynak Mehta found that “The pattern of activity in a brain region involved in spatial learning in the virtual world is completely different than when it processes activity in the real world.”


Makes sense – we all have a good understanding that when we’re immersed in VR, we have the knowledge that everything around us is virtual, regardless of how ‘real’ it looks.


Digging a little deeper – what makes the VR experience in your head is the hippocampus. This portion of the brain plays a crucial role when it comes to experiencing VR, but it’s actually  more well-known for its involvement when it comes to diseases such as Alzheimer’s, stroke, and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). The hippocampus helps your brain form new memories and create mental maps of space. So for example, when you put on a VR headset for the first time or you’re viewing a new VR experience, your hippocampal neurons become selectively active and start building a “cognitive map” of your surroundings. The neurons not only compose this map, but they even compute estimate distances based on ‘landmarks’ that you see in the space that stay in your memories. Remember, they’re just estimates.





 


How else do you think your uncle remembers how big that fish was that he caught that one time? Don’t worry… he’s either exaggerating a bit or his spatial memory in his hippocampus is slightly off.


Scientists measured the neural activity in the brains of rats when they were exploring real spaces versus virtual spaces that were designed to be a reflection of the real space, and the results concluded that the rats had LESS THAN HALF of the neural activity from the virtual world in comparison to the real world.



So, what does this have to do with predicting human interaction with spaces?

Well, now we understand that there is no comparison, microscopically, to the real world and that people will always be able to subconsciously know when they’re in a virtual environment as opposed to being in a real space because the neurons in your brain just aren’t as active when they’re looking at something virtual. Nonetheless, as you may have seen before, VR experiences can get pretty close to the real deal, which is one of the huge selling points behind it. In fact, VR content is commonly produced by 360 cameras of real space as opposed to renderings, which is why VR is so great for industries like travel and real estate. You get that near-real experience that you just can’t get from anything else, which is why things like VR roller coasters are such a thrill (even if you look like a dork who’s about to fall out of a chair in the middle of your kitchen – it’s FUN). The visceral VR reactions videos you’ll find on YouTube, of people jumping and screaming point to just how real the emotions are, even when the space isn’t real.





 


The first glance in VR

Here at Yulio, based on over 1000 hours of user testing, we’ve learned that the majority of people will look up and to the right when they enter VR.


Now, don’t fret – it makes a lot of sense.  Consider that only about 10% of the world’s population are left-handed, meanwhile the remaining 90% are right-handed, so based on which hand or side is more dominant for the user, i.e. more comfortable for you to turn towards, will determine which way they look – (of course, this is assuming that there are no other distractions that interrupt the natural navigation when they first enter your experience).


Next, because you’re in VR, your first instinct is to break the barrier for yourself and explore your environment. A lot of people when they’re looking around in virtual reality forget that they can look directly above, below and behind them; therefore, their first instinct will be to aim their eyes at where the seam of a screen would typically lie and push past it. So continuing with the direction they look based on their dominant hand/side, the user will continue this motion and look beyond a point that a typical 2D medium would cut off. We use common sense to understand that if we look down, we’ll most likely see the ground, so this is why the natural instinct is to look upwards.. we don’t usually expect to see a ceiling depending on the experience; the sky’s the limit! Plus, anything is better than staring at the floor.

With these two natural instincts combined, we can come to the conclusion that the first move for the user (based on the statistical majority of users) will be up and to the right.


*Keep in mind that this is only true if the virtual environment they’re immersed in is distraction free… If there is a monkey on a unicycle blowing a french horn to the left of the user, then obviously the user is going to change their scope of navigation to look at the monkey.. We’re only human, and who could resist looking if that WAS the case.


Now that we have a general idea of where (the majority of) our users are going to be looking, we can delve right into how our audiences consume VR.



What’s the natural reaction for kids?

When kids play, their imagination takes over. That one box that was thrown into the corner is now a time machine that’s also a fancy sports car. Kids have this stunning ability to entertain themselves, while also blocking out the rest of the world. In their minds, this time machine/car is the only thing existing when they play. Now, bring this same child into VR and they’re going to be astonished by the immersive experience. Research suggests that since kids have such active and imaginative minds, that they’re able to believe in the VR content in front of them as if it’s actually happening, and they’re able to ‘fill in the gaps’ where VR content may be less believable.





 



Next, kids respond to adrenalistic moments MUCH MORE than adults do. In fact, studies show that adults learn the ability to control their emotions to an extent using a ‘self-reserved’ technique. For instance, think of a time where you were watching a scary movie – this technique, where you’re trying not to flinch or react when there’s a scary pop-out coming is a variation of this. It gives you some breathing room or some ‘distance’ between yourself and the experience in front of you. Kids simply haven’t had enough experience in their lifetime to distance themselves from what’s in front of them, and at this age, being as curious and imaginative as they are, they probably wouldn’t want to!


If you want to make a lasting impact and your primary audience is largely kids then you’re looking to add some imagination and adrenaline to your experience! Kids minds run 1000 miles a minute and are still very much floating in the clouds when it comes to playing – so you want to base some of your design around events that are ‘out-of-this-world’, adventurous, and full of life. Even leading them on hunts with obvious next steps might be ideal for them. Think about beloved adventure TV shows like Dora the Explorer. The fun of the show is that the kids can follow along and yell about Dora’s next step based on what they see and what kind of a situation Dora falls into. For example, if kids see Swiper the Fox on the screen, the kids know to yell that he’s there and, “Swiper, no swiping!”. Or if Dora needs to find out which way she’s going, and they open her backpack, they’ll know to reach for the map.

Simple concepts and exciting experiences can go a long way with kids, so grasp your adventure concept, keep it simple and straightforward, and you’re on track to impressing the youngins.



Does gender affect how you consume VR?

Yes! Generally, males and females consumer VR differently!



 


Now, obviously this research can’t speak for every individual out there because it will vary based on the person and a hundred other factors in the mix, but this is what studies found generally:


Women are more emotionally connected to VR content

A few studies suggest that females (on average) experience a greater level of presence in VR. One of the explanations suggests that because females empathize more easily than men, so they’re more likely to connect to the content. Therefore, they have more immersive and connected VR reactions in comparison, and this is true for empathizing toward both real people and virtual figures. VR is well-known for tapping into the emotions of users, which is why it’s such a thrilling medium; you just can’t get the same emotional experience when you’re watching a video of a roller coaster on your laptop versus watching it in a VR headset. The emotional connection that people experience while immersed in VR is a huge factor in how ‘convincing’ the experience is for them. In fact, studies show that VR delivers a 27% higher emotional engagement and 34% longer engagement than 2D content, and with graphic or emotional content, we can obviously assume that the statistics much higher than just 27%.


Charities and nonprofits find good success leveraging VR reactions when it comes to raising awareness and funds for their causes. Take for instance, Charity: Water, who arranged a black-tie gala to show a VR movie which took place in a small village in Ethiopia, and followed the story of a girl and her family and their day-to-day lives, including their long travels to get water – and not clean water by any means.





 


The state of the water alone is a shock factor, but you also see the state of the family’s home, their school conditions and what their daily chores are, which are vastly different than what we experience here. The film ends with a truck full of workers installing a clean water well, and the impact and enthusiasm that was brought to this community, and how much this will change these individuals lives. Because of the strong VR reactions, this gala raised over 2.4 million dollars in donations by the end of the evening which exceeded beyond the organization’s expectations.


This just goes to show that VR’s ability to engage the emotions of users is incredible and can have a huge impact when it comes to events such as these.


If you’re designing for an experience that has a target audience of mostly women, then adding aspects where women may be more emotionally vulnerable could make a more hooking experience. Keep your audience on the edge!


Men enjoy mapping out virtual spaces

Another difference between genders when it comes to experiencing VR content is spatial reasoning skills! According to researchers, men (on average) have better spatial skills than women, so they’re better able to digest a 3D virtual environment in their head as opposed to women, and apparently, they actually enjoy mentally mapping VR too! This means that if you throw a man and a woman into a complex space, then take them out of it – the man (on average) should have a better memory of the space as opposed to the woman.


Men are big for strategy games – even look at the user-base for games such as Civilization. Men like to seek and conquer, so when it comes to learning spaces and strategizing the next move – men are all for it. If your audience base is primarily men, then keep them on their toes and give them room to learn, explore, then strategize how they’re going to keep moving forward.



Everything in-between

Veering away from the differences between genders, now we’re going to look at the more general factors that can have an impact for how well an individual reacts to a virtual experience.


Cognition is a factor in experiencing VR!

Things like general intelligence and attention span have huge impacts on how well someone perceives a virtual experience and the specifics of their VR reactions.  According to research, people who are have higher attention levels have a better capacity to focus on the virtual world and are better able at ‘shutting off’ the real world. This increased level of focus lets them experience their virtual environment in the moment, which leads to a more immersed and engaged VR experience.


Based on your personality, you may have drastically different experiences than others

There are a bunch of personality traits that could determine whether or not VR is suitable for you. For instance, if you’ve ever gone to see a magician and you’ve volunteered to be hypnotized, then VR is most likely thrilling for that individual; however, in a scenario where the individual is chosen from a crowd and is unable to be hypnotized says a different story… Just like how some people take a bit more time to be comfortable (maybe if they’re more prone to nervous or anxious behaviour) in certain scenarios follows the same general premise for whether or not they’ll enjoy being immersed in VR. The more willing a person is to give in to an experience, the better reaction they’ll ultimately have to the content in front of them. This is also true for introverts as opposed to extroverts; the more willing a person is to participate in the experience and suspend any sort of disbelief in their mindset, the greater the immersion and overall feeling of presence they’ll have when they’re in VR and the stronger their VR reactions will be.



Keep in mind that the research beyond VR and user experiences is still pretty new, (and consumers are turtles when it comes to worldwide-adoption) so with time we’ll have a better grasp on how people react to a lot more virtual situations, but for the time being, this is a pretty good start. This information does, however, help us understand the difference in designing for certain audiences, which includes people who don’t feel quite as immersed as others when they put on their VR headset for the first time.



Just getting started with virtual reality and want a hand getting things off the ground? We run a free introductory training webinar every other Thursday at 1 PM EST by our Client Success Manager to teach you everything there is to know about Yulio’s functions, features, and the nitty-gritty tips to help you effortlessly become successful with Yulio! Grab your seat here. Still looking into VR solutions? We’ve got a 30-day free trial with full access to all of Yulio’s fabulous features to give you a true taste of our product and how easy is it to start showing your designs in stunning virtual reality. Sign up for your free account here!

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AR, Architecture, Business, Design, Employee Highlight, Everything Else, VR

Ian Hall (IH) is the Chief Product Officer of Yulio Technologies. He leads Yulio’s vision of VR as a practical, everyday business tool and the perfect medium for visual storytelling. Ian is also the Co-founder of Pixel Tours Inc., a design consultancy specializing in human factors engineering and development.


We sat down with Ian to talk about his experience in digital visual storytelling, and where VR is going.




Tell us a bit about how you got into the industry.

IH: The founders of Yulio have been doing graphic-powered business applications for the better part of 20 years.

So, graphic-powered applications are all about visual tools and visual storytelling – it really means things like in the “dot.com boom” days, we developed an image server that let you do zooming, spinning and all that kind of stuff, and we were first in the world to do that. It eventually got bought out by Adobe, and powered half of the e-commerce sites being built when e-commerce was just getting off the ground. Then, we built a web-based shelving layout tool for a Fortune 500 company, like one of those BIG brands – the guys who are always laying out their products on grocery store shelves, and of course, you need to do it visually first, so we built them a tool to do that. We did an online classified ads engine, “Trader Media”, which was the Canadian branch of Auto Trader, and they had the biggest network of classified ads in the country at that time. We built an entire imaging platform for them to create online ads where users could spin the car to see all angles and zoom in. We taught them how to capture the photographs and create a web presence for the photos. They ended up getting bought out for over 400 million dollars and the buyer actually cited the implementation of the imaging and their web-presence as their main reasons that they saw that much value in the business.




So how did that bring you to VR?

IH: The imaging software we built was amazing quality. We’ve done 360-degree tours for real estate, and we’ve done 3D renders and pipelines for architecture and commercial furniture. So, all of that has one thing in common, which is that there is a customer who’s trying to understand what it is they’re ultimately going to be getting, while not being in the room with the thing. Every one of those shows you exactly the same underlying root pain for the buyer and a seller who wants to answer that pain with visual storytelling. We’ve been doing this for 20 years – and every one of those solutions had something in common. They’re imperfect.


“We’ve been doing this for 20 years, and every one of those solutions had something in common… They’re imperfect… [but] VR takes it to another level; It takes an imperfect medium and gets it a hell of a lot closer to perfect.” – IH


They’re all attempting to use visual storytelling techniques to convey what it’s like to be in the room with whatever you’re talking about – well you can’t do it. VR takes it to another level – It takes an imperfect medium and gets it a lot closer to perfect – and THAT’S why the moment this kind of thing came to maturity we jumped on it because we have been experiencing this pain on our customers’ behalf and coming up with imperfect solutions for decades. This is the first real massive leap forward in visual storytelling.

So to get to the root of it, VR is the difference between looking at the floorplan of a room and standing in it, and you can apply that same kind of parable to every other one of those points. And it goes back to things like scale, volume, emotional connection – and in every single one of the projects we’ve been involved with, helping people understand those things is exactly what we’ve been trying to achieve. For us, VR was the new way to achieve all of those things, and it has finally become simple enough that it makes sense for business.




So, what’s Yulio’s take on that?

IH: Yulio is turnkey digital reality. It is a platform that designers and marketers, and anyone else who uses visual storytelling to sell their products, can use to present their ideas and products in a way that their customers completely and instantly understand.

Unpacking that a little bit, it’s turnkey, which means end-to-end. So, we’ve got all of the building blocks so you don’t have to go and cobble together a bunch of assets – you can turn us on and you’ve got everything you need. You’ve got content creation, content management, publishing, distribution, you’ve got a way of delivering the experience on every major mobile platform – in other words, the applications on the devices that people actually use for that stuff, the closed loop, the business analytics, the presentation tools, the collaborative tools – it’s all under the same umbrella. So, turnkey, simple, and enterprise scale – this stuff works, it was designed from the ground up to be simple to use, and, it’s not for the consumer market – this is a business-centric product, which means that everything I’ve talked about is enterprise-grade security, performance, reliability, and all those hallmarks that a good CIO is going to be looking for their practice.

In terms of the customers, we created this originally for the architecture and design community, but that’s been evolving. We now have customers in construction, we have customers in real estate, product sales, product marketing – so as the technology is gaining acceptance, getting more exposure, and more winning scenarios are coming forward, it’s moving more and more into a broader business community.




Ok, now pulling you away from the business side of things – What was your first experience with VR?

IH: So, back in the mid-90’s was kind of the first renaissance of VR. There was consumer-grade, arcade-style virtual reality where you put on a big clunky helmet, the tracking was terrible, and it was kind of like vector graphics, but it moved with you and it gave you kind of a sense of immersion, and you could kind of get a taste of what’s coming, but it never made it out of the arcade. It was too expensive, too clunky, and content creation just wasn’t there – and a lot of the hardware building blocks and software building blocks just weren’t there either. Previous to that, I had been actually involved in an industrial design company and we got invited to a private showing of a little display chip, and there were, at the time, two of these ON THE PLANET. They brought it out of the lab – and this is from one of the big silicon valley manufacturers – they literally built this prototype in their lab, it was maybe a centimeter and a half across, and it was a high-definition functional display – the first of its kind on planet Earth – and we got to see it, and that was even before this VR stuff came out. So, I was sitting there, looking at this thing with the mad scientist who had actually created it….and it’s worth millions of dollars because there were only two of them, and you could see the potential even then. You can trace the Oculus Go optics, and the Hololens and the Google Glass – all of those underlying technologies back to this chip which was incredible. It was compressing high-quality visuals and streaming into this tiny little display technology that was ultimately wearable – and that’s gotta be 25 years ago. So, it’s taken a while for all of these little building blocks to form, but they’re finally all coming together.



“So, we were very well positioned to take advantage of this disruptive technology just because we knew what we were looking for – we knew what the blockers were, we knew what success looked like and we knew what imperfection looked like, so we kinda knew what the gaps were in the existing ecosystem.” – IH


My first true exposure to VR was when the Oculus DK1 came out – that was the first legitimately featured consumer headset that came out and we were all over it as soon as it launched.



 




We had prototypes of what became Yulio going within days of it getting out there. So, we were very well positioned to take advantage of this disruptive visual storytelling technology just because we knew what we were looking for – we knew what the blockers were, we knew what success looked like and we knew what imperfection looked like, so we kinda knew what the gaps were in the existing ecosystem.


In the end, all the hardware and technology has to be about visual storytelling or it falls flat. Basically, if you use still images, catalogs or brochures to tell your story today, you can do it better with VR.




We’d like to thank Ian Hall for sitting with us and sharing some of his experiences and knowledge of the industry! Ian recently did a podcast about practical and business-ready virtual reality, and where he sees the visual storytelling market going in the future. You can listen to it here! Interested in learning more about the digital reality industry and how your business can get involved? Ian was also the driver on our free 5-day VR email course! Sign up here to begin your crash-course surrounding practical business-ready VR, industry trends, and budget considerations!

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AR, Business, Industry News, VR, Your Business + Virtual Reality
We sat down with Ian Hall, Chief Product Officer and resident expert at Yulio Technologies about his experience with VR, his work within the industry, and where he predicts the digital reality market will lead in the future, and here are his top 9 major takeaways! 


1. Stop calling it VR!
This first thing that I want to note about the future of VR is a bit ironic – and that is to stop calling it VR – or at least recognize that that is a bit of a bucket term for a number of technologies. We’re starting to combine the terms VR, AR, and MR, into this kind of overreaching descriptor of digital reality (DR) – some people call it XR to fill in the gaps, but digital reality seems to be resonating a little bit better. So, we start projecting out 6-12 months.. even a year and we look at it as that collection of visualization technology blending, merging, and working fluidly together in digital reality.




2. Hardware is always going to get better.

As anyone who has tried VR today can attest, it’s powerful, but there are still challenges. Even people who have had an experience in a professional tethered rig, like an HTC Vive, or something like an Oculus Rift – you’ve got this cable running from the back of your head, it gets sweaty, it’s clunky, it can be a little bit off-putting. The mobile devices, while they’re getting more and more powerful – everyone wants it to be higher resolution, lower latency, bigger field of view, longer battery life, less overheating to solve the convergence problem because there are a bunch of things that are all understood and I point to the Oculus Go – it moves forward on five of those things I just mentioned, in a substantive way, while absolutely plummeting the price. Two years ago I would’ve killed for an Oculus GO, and now future of VR is here with it. It’s self-contained, has a long-lasting battery life, great tracking, excellent visuals – that DIDN’T exist two years ago, and now it’s available $200 street – for the cost of a music subscription, you’ve got this powerful new communication medium. To do what the Oculus Go does today by combining a phone with an enclosure, you’re looking at about $1000 street to have something reasonable – meanwhile, the Oculus Go is $200 for exactly the same thing.. I mean, that’s a staggering drop in pricing.


You’ve also got a major player in the space Leap technology. They’re promising full-blown, functional mixed-reality headset with hand-tracking as a reference design for roughly $100 street price. So, that’s what I mean about VR, AR, and MR all kind of blending.. As that hardware comes forward, we will exploit it. So, if $100 AR headset is out there, our AR pipeline (which is obviously in-the-making) will be able to exploit it.





3. We’ve got so much to look forward to for DR technology 

So, we’re seeing the evolution of technology – if anything, we’re actually seeing the technology outstripping everything else. We’re seeing the software ecosystem is getting better, richer, so standards are starting to evolve, things like GLTF which is a 3D data format, optimized for delivering this type of experience, WebVR, and we’ve got the big players working on things like ARKit and ARCore to give you dial tone for doing basic mixed reality behaviours, and you’ve got just MASSIVE research going into data compression, 5G data transport, and we can go on and on. We’ve actually got an entire, what we call, “TechRadar”, where, Yulio as a company – all of our mad scientists and product people are looking at the major trends in all of these relevant areas in software, hardware, standards, in the UX/best practices, and we update that frequently and we use it to inform our thinking – that’s how we skate towards where the puck is going. We’re projecting these things forward, we’re looking at the scientific papers recognizing that those papers are gonna be turned into functionality, and open source, and things that we can use and then we’re figuring out where our opportunities lie through all of that. So a lot of it is having that insight into what those variables are, who the players are, and how rapidly things are adapting.





4. We’re going to see DR technology being used more and more as a standard in the construction industry

That is happening in other industries as well. That’s happening in construction now. Construction is already adopting augmented reality so you’ve got a pipefitter who puts on an augmented reality headset, and they will see, because of the plan, that there’s supposed to be pipes running along the wall – they’ll see where they’re exactly supposed to go in real-time, at-scale, where it’s supposed to be cut-in and cut-out – they can do the work and check their work. Then the inspector comes around – he can put on the same headset – looks at the original drawings and be able to compare workers efforts against the original design -and THAT is utterly transformative for the entire industry for bottom-line costs, maintaining clarity for regulations, quality working effort, at a level of fidelity that we’ve never seen before.





5. VR doesn’t always have to be flashy

Have you ever tried watching something in a headset? For instance, watching Netflix with your peers or something like that. It’s small and simple, and if you’re living in an apartment and you don’t have space for a 60” television, then you can sit there and have an IMAX size theatre screen in front of you in your very own living room and you can watch whatever you want! Entertainment executions like this will continue to help drive the future of VR.





6. DR is the next major gaming platform

So, we’re ahead of the game. The adoption of VR as a way of consuming traditional media in a new way is, frankly, disruptive stuff. If you take a VR mount into a gaming room, (and there are some really good titles out there that are breathtaking and forefront stuff in virtual reality) and you come out with this emotional high that you just don’t get sitting there with other mediums. That’s what’s transformative about future of VR – it’s an evolution of a storytelling medium and it’s the emotional connection that drives it that’s so exciting. You see more and more of these big studios when they do these big quality AAA games with  – and they ain’t doing it unless they can get their money back. So you’ve got the Sony’s and Samsung’s of the world pushing consumer VR but frankly, it’s in the very early days – for instance, instead of 100 hours of play, we’ve got 5 hours of play but it’s a REALLY cool 5 hours. Things like the Oculus Go suddenly become an install base of millions upon millions of content will follow. So, the big leagues for consumer VR are going to be content production – content that has a little bit more awareness, a little more accessible hardware.





7. Consumer adoption of VR will come as fast as we invite it

Technology moves fast, moves strategically, and it’s moving to address fairly well-understood problems… the bigger challenge is when you move into the human side of things –   which is the consumer consumption of digital reality. Now, obviously, Yulio as a company, we’re primarily focused on the business applications of this… that said, the business applications don’t exist in a vacuum. As consumers get exposed to DR and AR, kind of like first harbingers, they will lay the foundation for further investment in the space. Business or not they’ll build the future of VR because as consumers use it, more people will build hardware, more people will build software, so the building blocks that we use to create our products will branch from user adoption of the tech.





8. Digital reality training is coming full force – and it’s working! 

Education is another big one. The best example is Walmart who started dabbling with virtual reality as a way of training employees. They have this massive training program; whether you’re the one greeting at the door, or you’re the one stocking shelves or at the cash, you go through this very rigorous training program that introduces you to the “Walmart way” of doing things – and they will celebrate improving those outcomes all day long. If you can improve testing outcomes and improve customer feedback through that training program it has a huge impact. They introduced VR – and they saw double-digit improvements OVERNIGHT. So, they went from doing this as a trial to rolling out a full training program to every Walmart training center around the world and that was in the course of 12 months. So, again, this is a BIG IMPACT of DR transforming businesses.


So imagine that the same person is stocking the shelves wearing an MR headset and it gives them reinforcement of that training because they’re seeing it  in real-time, and the social stigma of looking funny with a big headset on doesn’t apply if you’re stocking shelves – So, business applications, some of those constraints that are going to slow down consumer adoption, don’t exist in business. If I’m going and doing a ‘pick and place’ in a warehouse – Putting a load into a box to mail to you, I don’t care what I look like. To put on a DR headset to be better at my job to improve efficiency is just something you’re going to do. That is becoming deliberate – this kind of idea where you wear these headsets in warehouses and remote diagnostics is already picking up traction. Microsoft jumping all over the whole platform. They literally just announced that the entire framework that allows you to use their HoloLens platform to do exactly what I just described. Have an expert come in, look virtually over your shoulder, and point to something and say “noo don’t turn that gear turn that gear” and they’ve come up with an entire platform for building applications like this.





9. The A&D community was perfectly primed to use DR technology

Today, in the architectural community in particular and more so the design community, we’re starting to see DR as table stakes – it’s not just a nice to have, but it’s becoming a must-have. When we started doing this over two years ago, we had to explain to our early adopters, “what IS VR?”, and they really just had no frame of reference… but in the last 6 months, I don’t remember the last architectural firm who didn’t have some sort of active VR initiative, and some of the more sophisticated ones have already started dabbling in AR and mixed reality – so that is an entire industry, and we just so happen to be perfectly primed for taking advantage of this. Speaking directly to Yulio, our clients use visualizations to convey design ideas, so visualization is definitely key. So these businesses are primed to use this technology and in a matter of 24 months, we went from getting reactions like, “what the hell is VR” to “we can’t live without VR” and that is absolutely transformative.


So, the implications for business make sense in the areas with the greatest ROI – where you see a ten-fold improvement overnight as opposed to traditional means. But as time establishes, more people try things and they find that it works… it’s substantially better than the alternative – you’re going to continue to grow in the business environment and this is absolutely the center of where Yulio exists. We are addressing those problems, we are working with our customers and trying those scenarios, we’re eliminating the ones that don’t work all that well, we’re focusing on the ones that really do, and we’ve already seen those successes in a repeating pattern. Using Yulio / a VR platform to convey your design ideas – early stage / late stage is correct. And we know that today because we have architects backing us saying, “we’re trying for a year to communicate to a customer why this thing needed to be this big and we finally had the epiphany – we were already using VR for our designers, and we decided to turn it around and put it in front of the customer, and they looked at it and had an ‘Aha’ moment. They looked at it and went ooooh I FINALLY get why it had to be so big .. we didn’t believe you and now we trust you and they finally became a partner in that dialogue.”


Until that moment – using the best methods available to architects today – models, floor plans, renderings, and all that kind of stuff – they weren’t able to convey that in a year, and VR was able to convey it in a split second. And that is transformative.




So what’s coming? 

It’s more of that. It’s finding those niches. It’s finding those applications and it’s just transforming how people do business. I think winning business patterns will drive the future of VR.





Ian Hall is Yulio’s Chief Product Officer and has been working in the industry for an eternity in VR terms. He recently attended VRX 2018 and recorded the top trends that he saw. Read about them here. To learn more about VR best practices for business, sign up for our 5-day email course, presented by Ian with daily 5-7 minute video courses.

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AR, Architecture, Business, Design, How to, News and Updates, Resource, Technical, VR, Your Business + Virtual Reality

Adding to our collection of ways for you to enhance your VR projects, we’d like to introduce you to another version of hotspot annotations, image hotspots! This feature allows you to add a still image to your scene, while not interrupting your immersive experience for your audience.


Use image hotspots to show alternatives to a material, color or shape without having to render an additional scene, or get creative and show before/after shots and more. Image hotspots are another way to enhance your design, and tell your story in the context of the VR scene, without having to flip between VR and catalogs.


Check out an example of image hotspots in our showcase here.


 

 


 


This new feature is part of our continuing commitment to be the best VR presentation tool for business and can be viewed both in both browser-mode fishtank viewing with a button click and in VR by gazing at the hotspot. In Collaborate mode, hotspots are triggered by the presenter.


Some of the winning use cases from our user research:

  • In the context of your VR scene, show alternate arrangements, colors or uses and allow the viewer to easily look between them
  • By providing the image within the VR scene, you avoid breaking the storytelling experience – and let people see the work in context
  • Image hotspots will improve the range of things you can communicate in a single VR scene, save you ample time and space and allow you to easily expand on what is shown without having to fully render (a still image is much faster and cheaper)
  • Portfolio before and after transformations
  • Get creative and use an image to design a text annotation – maybe a quote from a designer


Image hotspots are available immediately to all Yulio clients. To learn more and begin using them, visit our knowledge base. Or to find out more about using any of our features or for training, reach us at hello@yulio.com.
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AR, Architecture, Business, Culture, Design, Industry News, News and Updates, Resource, VR, Your Business + Virtual Reality

Yulio Chief Product Officer Ian Hall recently attended VRX 2018 and brought back some key VR trends and winning patterns from the conference. While we’ve expanded on them a bit below, the overwhelming theme is that VR adoption is being led by business adoption and not consumers. As we’ve predicted, waiting for consumer VR headset sales is the wrong adoption indicator – and will leave you flat-footed when it comes to sharing your vision in VR.


VR Trends in Hardware

There have been a number of analyst predictions around headset adoption, which consistently indicated that beginning in 2018 and through 2020 standalone headsets like Oculus Go, HTC Vive Focus etc. will dominate over a console or premium mobile headsets like Samsung’s Gear VR. The Oculus Go has been a game changer in the area, removing much of the friction we’ve seen for our clients of awkwardly trying to put their phone inside a headset etc. Look for the Microsoft Hololens and continue innovation from Oculus to lead in this area, with shipments expected to double between now and 2020.




Globally, standalone vr headset shipments are expected to move from 5 million in 2018 to 15 million by 2023. Standalones will lead VR trends.


Yulio tip:

Like our Yulio Clients, Perkins+Will noted during their panel at the conference that Oculus Go is a slam dunk, and that their sales team love it. We bet they love it because it removes so much friction from installing an app on your phone, putting your phone in a headset etc. etc. You can get Oculus Go from any electronics retailer, or right from the Oculus store – download our Yulio app and you’ll be all set. Removing friction is the most important of the VR trends, as we’ve learned from our 1000+ hours of user testing.


VR Trends by Business Vertical

We’ve looked at a number of verticals using VR successfully, and we’ve always agreed with the comment made by Iffat Mai of Perkins + Will architecture -that “VR ROI (in architecture) is a no-brainer, our job is to sell you something that doesn’t exist”. But the opportunities in some other sectors are interesting too. Showrooms and Retail sectors are slightly ahead of A&D in terms of demand, with the major players all figuring out how to use digital reality to create meaningful retail experiences.

Beyond retail and architecture, experts see significant potential in Education and Healthcare – but both are challenging to services due to extensive regulation and barriers to changing the current process (whether rolling out a new curriculum in education or extensive health testing).

Likely the biggest ‘bet’ will be in the training field, with experiential learning, fewer physical meetings, and more self-guided learning all being keys to the value of VR.



Yulio tip:

Our clients who work in commercial furniture have found that early adoption of VR has allowed them to differentiate from their competitors by offering an immersive experience. Moreover, the experience helps people make faster decisions with a better sense of size and scale – and gives clients the tools they need to ‘sell’ upward in their organizations and achieve final sign off. Read more in our client showcase with HBI in Calgary.


 

VR Trends from Early Adopters   

One of the most valuable elements from any conference is hearing and learning from those who have really set the VR trends and are repeating useful patterns. You can leap-frog some learning by keeping key adoption learnings in mind:

  • If you’re responsible for rolling technology out to your sales or dealership/showroom teams, you need to look for something that’s as fail-proof as possible and operationalize the learning. Your benchmark should be that if it’s harder than powerpoint, or web-ex, you need a training webinar or session around resolving and scripting the issue
  • As the presenter, it can be challenging to manage the technology, tell your story, and ensure people don’t become isolated in VR. That’s why we recommend having no more than 2-3 headsets even in large presentations. If your software allows you to project what’s being seen in the headsets on a screen, you can see what people are looking at and create a social experience around it
  • The script is still critical to a VR supported presentation – VR trends in tech and even content don’t hide good design – so be sure you have the content, and the story you want to tell before immersing your clients in your scene


Yulio tip:

The most important VR trends aren’t about technology or complicated gadgets – they’re about storytelling. We recommend to all our clients who are looking to get started that they pick a target project – a pitch or presentation that’s upcoming, and use it as an area of focus to implement VR. One Oculus Go headset and a few software seats on Yulio will have you up and running for your presentation in no time. The key is to quit waiting for perfection….but rather to pick something simple and start your learning process.   




Our advice? Don’t be alarmed. Fortunately, it’s not too late to get in on the VR game. It is, however, high time to get started. For the perfect way to get yourself up to speed on VR trends, try our Yulio 5-day course and wow your colleagues with this pre-packed presentation full of our VR research on the state of the industry.

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AR, Architecture, Business, Design, How to, VR, Your Business + Virtual Reality

VR is changing industries of all kinds, and it’s playing a major role in the transformation of the architecture and design industry. VR and architectural visualization are such a natural match when it comes to the need to create a shared vision, and the ability to immerse a client or prospect into what’s in the designer’s mind. Imagine being able, not just to show your clients the plans for the building, floor or remodel they’ve commissioned, but place them inside it. It’s a new world of presenting with VR to your client, which is critical to architects and firms trying to build trust and earn client buy-in.





 


Plainly put, presenting with VR is the simplest and most compelling way to share CAD models with anyone. It is the clearest way to present your design vision to clients, suppliers, contractors, engineers, prospects, and other designers. So what does that look like? If you’ve never given one before, giving an architectural presentation in VR can seem daunting. Change is hard. It’s hard to divert from something you’ve done for so long, but rest assured, the way to ease into the technology is much simpler than you think!


When you use VR, make sure it has purpose

The simplest way to create a presentation that uses VR is to first determine what your purpose is. Make VR work for you and your objective, rather than try and shoehorn what it is your presenting into VR. That may sound obvious, but with shiny new technologies, there’s sometimes a temptation to let the technology do the heavy-lifting (anyone remember the slew of useless apps available in the mid-2000s?). VR highlights great design – but may do the same for bad design. So make sure you have a clear vision of what you want to share.



Start small!

Start small. Think of introducing VR into your presentation in a small way – until you’re more comfortable with using the technology for presentations.

For your first time presenting with VR, you may even wish to still bring your traditional renderings, whether they be on paper or a screen. Start small by presenting as you would normally. Don’t feel VR has to be the entire presentation. Begin with a simple few minutes immersed in VR, rather than making it the bulk. When starting out people sometimes make the error of assuming clients will be enamored with VR and spend a long time in its immersive detail. Our early adopter clients have discovered that this isn’t true – and it’s to their advantage. At Yulio we advocate a ‘pop-in and out’ experience, where you present a design element in VR and your client takes a look – then you put the technology aside and have a discussion. VR is a tool to foster great discussion, not a replacement for it. Using mobile VR makes this possible, as it requires virtually no set up or training to navigate and can be referenced several times during your presentation.

For the record, we also remove all the straps from our headsets at Yulio – which removes client fears of feeling foolish or nauseous trapped inside the technology and helps enable this idea of popping in and out.





 

Don’t let the technology do the talking

When you take your clients into VR, there’s a good chance they won’t have experienced it before, so let them revel in the novelty of it – how they can turn around and see what’s behind them.

But remember that it can be an isolating experience, so you’ll want to guide their gaze either with software tools in the VR presentation (like Yulio’s Collaborate feature) or with recorded voice if you’re not present (like our audio hotspot features). Another valuable way to create a social experience is to ensure the VR experience is also on a screen in the room so any participants not in the headset can see what’s going on.






Your client may be more vocal about their opinion, and that’s ok!

While you’re walking your client through the VR experience, it’s likely you’ll start to see the benefits of presenting with VR early on. One key indicator is that you may get immediate feedback about the project you’re presenting. Your client may have opinions on the spot about what you’re presenting. Early adopter firms have told us they find clients have much more to say when they’re presented with VR designs vs. other formats, primarily because they have a greater understanding of where they are in your design, and its size and scale. They also report clients having a greater emotional attachment.


For more on this, see our case study with Diamond Schmitt architects and what happened when they started presenting with VR.


Be patient, and let the meeting happen naturally

After you’ve presented in VR a few times, you’ll also likely start to form your own pattern for which questions to ask. Will you let them roam around the space a bit? In our experience, the best presentations are those where you comfortable enough to let your time together roll out organically. They may want more time in VR than you’ve expected, and that’s ok. What’s exciting is that you will have a greater context to the feedback, understanding what your client was looking at when they expressed dislike for ‘that blue thing’ or wondered if the space felt “too big”.


Be prepared at the time to take notes for revisions to address. VR accelerates the decision-making process because people can react to it on the spot. You may no longer have to wait until the next meeting or email to move a design story forward.



With these tips, you can feel confident taking the steps towards presenting with VR. Just remember, like learning or using anything new, getting warmed up to it might take some time, and rehearsal and backups will make you better. Just know that you’re taking the necessary steps towards the future of design, and that’s an exciting step to take! So be proud of the progress you’ve had so far, and get excited about the work you’ll do in the future with the many possibilities that presenting with VR has.





Interested in VR? Sign up for our FREE 5-day email course to learn about the VR industry, or join us for a free training webinar, hosted every other Thursday at 1 PM EST by our Client Success Manager, Dana Warren – Grab your seat here.

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AR, Architecture, Business, Design, Industry News, News and Updates, VR, Your Business + Virtual Reality

If you follow the VR space at all, you’ve probably heard about Oculus Go VR – the much anticipated ‘all-in-one’ headset set to revolutionize mobile VR. No phone required, no awkwardly fitting your phone inside the goggles and hoping it’s secure, no cables to entangle you. Just…..go.


And that’s the intended magic of VR, isn’t it? Put on this headset and go anywhere. The Oculus Go is started being available to order  May 1 2018, (many of us at Yulio just bought one) so probably in our hands and hitting retailers soon for about  $200. That’s pretty exciting when you consider that a Gear VR from Samsung, the current best in class mobile experience is around $100 but requires a high-end smartphone to make the magic happen.


There have been plenty of articles discussing the consumer benefits but what about the benefits for those who can see immediate ROI? Let’s look at the four reasons why Oculus Go VR  is going to be the key to making your business a VR success.




You get the emotional connection of VR without all the hassle of preloading

VR’s power to forge emotional connections has always been why it is so interesting. The problem to date has been that it sometimes gets lost in cumbersome technology – what I would call ‘friction’. In the past several years of experimenting with VR technology, and more than 1000 hours of user testing, we’ve seen small things like an unwillingness to mess up hair and makeup with headsets, concern about looking foolish and concern about feeling nauseous all limit VR’s reach. And we’ve seen the current multi-step process –  download an app, put content on your phone, put the phone in a headset – impede business adoption.




The headset is powerful enough to stand on its own (and not draining your own phone battery)

The ‘smartphone as engine’ model has some inherent problems in current mobile VR that Oculus Go VR takes care of nicely. Right now, if your sales team is using VR in the field with their own phones, the experience can be interrupted by incoming calls or text alerts. And if their phone battery is at low because of this morning’s conference call, is an interior designer going to risk using it in VR at a client presentation? Standalone, purpose-built devices not only take away the friction of loading the right app and getting it going before placing it in a headset, but also take care of these small but very real inconveniences.




It makes fast VR, even faster –  and more personal

For VR to be a practical, everyday tool, I maintain that it has to be fast. It’s a tool to facilitate discussion, and I advocate a ‘pop in and out’ experience. Look inside the headset at a design problem or issue to be resolved with your client or prospect, and then have a discussion. Oculus Go is going to contribute to that ‘fast VR’ use case that I think is critical to business-ready VR. Simpler, pre-loaded VR experiences on the headset make the designer, marketer or even retailer the narrator of a story, and not someone facilitating technology like phones and apps. It helps you get into VR faster, and I’ve seen, many times, how transformative that is. It’s the difference between seeing something and being immersed inside it.



You don’t need to blow the rest of your pay cheque on the device that powers your headset

Another obstacle to business VR is perceived cost. You’ll see articles all the time explaining that the Gear VR or the Google Daydream is just $100. But they need phones which are $550+ to power them. As a business owner trying to arm salespeople with VR portfolios or installing these devices in retail environments, there’s a lot of risk for breakage, damage, and loss. But with Oculus GO VR, marketers and sales manager will be able to get 3-4 devices for the same budget.




It’s a cornerstone of our approach to VR for business that the technology should never be a burden to a business user. You should be able to use the tools and processes you’re already using to bring your story into the VR medium. Oculus GO VR is another step toward making that seamless and has the potential to propel VR storytelling for business in late 2018.





Interested in learning about virtual reality? Sign up for our FREE 5-day email course, or sign up for a free Yulio account and take part in our free bi-weekly training webinars where we can walk you through getting started with your account to set you up for success!

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AR, Business, Industry News, VR

We talk with architects, designers, construction planners, BIM executives and many more, every day who know VR is going to be disruptive to their industry. But they are sometimes uncertain about whether VR is more than a tech novelty – they want to know how to spot a trend vs. a fad.  That makes sense to us! If businesses are going to invest in implementing VR, or the wider category of digital reality they want to know if it’s a passing fad, or if it’s here for good. And how to get the best ROI from it.


The first thing to understand about the VR market is the significant difference between consumer and business markets. The less than juggernaut sales of headsets for consumers led some analysts to call VR a disappointment. But there is a difference in personal investment for things like gaming and entertainment, vs business needs for designers to communicate their vision where the costs are amortized over many users, and the potential to win business.


Digital Reality?

Digital reality is a term that IDC has coined, and is meant to be used as an umbrella term that virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR) (a mixture of augmented and virtual reality) 360 degree, and immersive technologies can all fall under. It’s a recognition that new immersive visual technologies all have different uses, and the specific mechanics aren’t important in the larger trend of Digital Reality. A lot of people anticipate mixed reality being the big winner in the space because it makes use of physical and virtual space to create captivating scenes for any industry-use, but for now, VR and AR are the primary focus in the market. We anticipate those labels falling away as we adopt a larger view of Digital Reality, with the different categories becoming tools in the toolbox with different strengths.


What’s the Market Like?

Goldman Sachs released a Profile of Innovation surrounding virtual and augmented reality, and it describes the tech as “hav[ing] the potential to become the next big computing platform”, comparing the rise of investment and market disruption of digital reality as similar to when the PC and smartphone were released.


The report notes that, “[they] believe that VR/AR has the potential to spawn a multi-billion dollar industry, and possibly be as game-changing as the advent of the PC”, and that, “[they] see qualities in VR/AR technology that can take this from niche use cases to a device as ubiquitous as the smartphone” – Pretty powerful statements, if you ask me.



In 2016, the VR software and hardware market size worldwide reached 3.7 million, and 6.4 million in 2017 – now in 2018, it’s estimated to reach 12.1 million. The market trend forecast predicts that it will continue to double until 2020, which is similar to the original rise of the PC, but it’ll take a bit more time to get there. Think about the quality of video games – we’ve moved from what used to be expensive games that were very pixelated and with significant lag time, to insanely fast and photo-realistic image quality, and reduced costs that consumers are willing to pay to play. There are certainly parallels where VR/AR consumers may find that there isn’t enough high-quality content to justify the expense for individuals, but that is poised to change in the coming months. And in the meantime, businesses are finding that their ability to amortize those costs over marketing campaigns make the technology more viable for them than the average consumer.  


We can expect some pretty big innovations being released in the next couple of years – Goldman Sachs predicts that the market should reach $80 billion by 2025.






There will be integrations into current technology that will allow for VR/AR capabilities, as well as standalone devices similar to the Daydream Standalone VR headsets, which are targeted to begin shipping spring of this year. This VR headset doesn’t require a phone, PC or cables, which makes it the first of its kind in terms of mobile digital reality power.


Another barrier for consumer VR/AR right now is that there isn’t much content, but in the future, there are huge indicators for the amount of content that will be widely available, which will make digital reality much more attractive and useful for consumers.



 

Next, Goldman Sachs provided a by-industry breakdown of the market for the forecasted 2025 market prediction, showing the various levels of use for 9 different industries.  

Here, you can see the division of the digital reality market software-use into 9 industries:

  1. Video games ($11.6B)
  2. Healthcare ($5.1B)
  3. Engineering ($4.7B)
  4. Live events ($4.1B)
  5. Video entertainment ($3.2B)
  6. Real estate ($2.6B)
  7. Retail ($1.6B)
  8. Military ($1.4B)
  9. Education ($0.7B)

With real estate, engineering, and entertainment being the large industries at-play with digital reality technology at the moment, we can see that there’s still a lot of potential for the medium that hasn’t been discovered just yet.



Who are the Major Players Investing in Digital Reality?

Companies wouldn’t be all in unless they saw something with the potential to stay a long time. You know something is here to stay when the largest consumer tech companies in the world are investing heavily in it. Let’s take a look at some of the major technology moguls, and what they’ve been up to involving digital reality:



Google

They had already released their augmented reality glasses, called ‘Google Glass’, back in 2012, but unfortunately, it didn’t take off quite as expected. The idea was revolutionary, and I’m sure it’ll come back with a vengeance, but at the time, it wasn’t something that consumers could justify needing, and felt alien and cumbersome.


Since then, Google has invested $542 million dollars in 2014 to kick-off the ‘Magic Leap’, one of the first-to-market mixed reality headsets. Google also pioneered the Cardboard, an inexpensive VR headset that really democratized access to digital reality. When Google moves to get something into the hands of tens of thousands of customers, you can anticipate they are looking to make a major play in providing content services.


Sony

In 2014, Sony launched ‘Project Morpheus’, later renamed to be the PlayStation VR. In 2017, they shipped 429,000 PSVR’s in their first quarter, giving the company a 21.5% market share, and sold a total of 700,000 PS4 consoles, so the potential for their VR segment to grow is very much a possibility… and being the most affordable tethered VR option in the market right now definitely gives them a leg-up on their competition


HP

In 2014, they bought Aurasma 3.0, an augmented reality application which they acquired through autonomy.


Facebook

Famous for buying Oculus in 2014 for $2 billion, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at a conference in 2017 that he is setting a goal of getting 1 billion people using VR, which is about 13% of the world’s population –  that target number of VR users is estimated to be reached by 2020.


They’ve also recently shared that the Facebook platform now supports gITF2.0 file format, allowing for textures, lighting and realistic rendering through posts. Brands such as Clash of Clans, LEGO, Jurassic Park, and Wayfair are already ramping themselves up to use this feature to their advantage.






Another exciting possibility for the platform is their use as  VR social spaces for friends to interact and play games. Check out the live demo of the feature here!


Samsung

In 2014, Samsung revealed (in partnership with Oculus) their Samsung Gear VR, one of the most popular mobile VR headsets to hit the market. Selling almost 5 million headsets in 2017, they’re expecting to more than double their in 2018 to 10 million units shipped!


In 2017, they also acquired a company called VRB, who specialize in VR content creation, PLUS unveiled their 360-degree camera, which is one of the big content drivers for VR. We expect to see more developments from Samsung as the VR market grows.


Intel

In 2015, Intel had invested over $60 million in 15 VR/AR startup companies, raising to be $566 million by the end of 2017. Also, in September of 2017, Intel announced that they’ve invested over $1 billion in AI companies so we can prepare ourselves to witness some pretty cool technology coming from them sometime in the future.


Apple

Reportedly acquired Metaio, an AR software maker, and are now beginning to launch their platform, ARKit, which is an integration piece for apps that allow for augmented reality to best perform on their hardware.

Apple also got onboard with the same kind of software that made Snapchat so popular -They’ve acquired Faceshift, a facial recognition and animation company. Check out their ad here!



Disney

Led $65 million to be funded towards a VR content creating a startup called Jaunt.


Microsoft

Bought a company called Havok, which is a 3D physics engine used for video games.


Comcast and Time Warner

Participated in $30.5 million funding for NextVR, which captures live events in VR.





These companies are, as they say, “all in” on digital reality – which means that some huge developments are in the making, and coming to consumer shelves sooner than you think.

With this much activity in the market, do you still think that digital reality is just hype?




To find out more about implementing VR for your business, download our whitepaper which outlines the best implementations for ROI from digital reality – Or try VR on-for-size by signing up for a free Yulio account!

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AR, Guest Blog, Industry News, VR

Charlie Fink is a former Disney, AOL and American Greetings executive. In the 90s, he ran VR pioneer Virtual World. Today he is a consultant, professional speaker, columnist for Forbes and author of Charlie Fink’s Metaverse, An AR Enabled Guide to VR and AR.  






The transition to head-worn mobile computing faces significant barriers. Unlike the smartphone, this requires big changes in consumer behavior. Head-mounted displays (HMDs) are a new idea. In order to get people to buy Pepsi, they have to know what soda is. For this reason, adoption may look more like personal computers, which took fifteen years, than smartphones, which took two years.





 


During the Internet explosion in the early 1990s, we often looked at a graph which showed rates of consumer technology adoption. The data suggested that the speed of adoption would continue to accelerate, which proved to be true for smartphones and tablets, but those devices took what we were already doing and made it much better.


It took fifty years to electrify the country. It took thirty years to wire landline phones. It took radio twenty years. Television, ten. The Internet took less than five years. AR and VR cannot be conflated with these technologies. Instead, it is like the personal computer, which took fifteen years to hit an inflection point. Personal computers came into our lives very slowly.





 


Throughout the 80s, personal computers were considered first adopter novelty items for nerds and rich people. It wasn’t until the end of the decade that PCs were common in most offices. They were expensive. They ran expensive CD-ROMs, which were either games or educational in nature. If the computer had a modem (it was considered a peripheral, like speakers), you had to open it with a separate program. I remember in 1993 I needed to open several programs to get onto the Internet. One for TCP/IP. One for the modem itself. One for my sleek new Netscape Navigator web browser, and yet another for IRC (chat).




 

However, once the PC met online services, the PC hit an immediate inflection point. This happened within months. The advent of online services like AOL and Prodigy, with their all-in-one discs that brought all the disparate Internet software together into one simple (sort of) plug and play program, pushed the PC to an inflection point. By 1996, everyone had to have one, because at that point, the value proposition was so clear and substantial.


In the early 2000s, many people were given their first smartphone at work, the BlackBerry, which allowed users to send email on the go. Soon, consumer cellphones had those features, and people received remarkable upgrades for free as part of their normal cellphone replacement cycle. The wireless providers and handset makers took what we were already doing and made it much, much better. Yes, please!


Mobile AR, which turns the camera into the window through which we see the world, has been available on Android phones since 2015 and on iPhones since the fall of 2017. Because of Apple’s scale, within a few days, hundreds of thousands of people could do much more with the phone. There were just two problems. The first was apps. They’re novelties and game enhancements. Second, holding one’s arm out to view the world through the camera may be the worst form factor accidentally invented by man.






 


Augmented reality works exceptionally well for enterprises (as computers did in the 80s), but they largely aren’t for consumers, although there are some nifty AR-enabled toys and books. For consumers, AR headsets are in a protean state. There are basic problems with optics and field of view. Costs are still going up, not down. Interface solutions are not obvious. Speculation swirls around the big companies and some stealthy startups (most notably Magic Leap).


Ironically, the really big utility problems are outside the smartphone. They’re in the cloud and pertain to unsolved issues of bandwidth, compression, artificial intelligence, and the lack of a geospatial social “AR Cloud” that would make the glasses contextually aware. For VR the problems are simpler and more profound. Navigating with hand controllers is extremely awkward and people still get motion sickness. The optics are terrible. At current resolutions, the pixels are visible, creating a “screen door” effect. Even advanced headsets only have a 110-degree field of view.



Rapid advances in smartphones have spoiled us. VR and AR aren’t going to be like that.


This is an excerpt from my book Charlie Fink’s Metaverse, a continuously updated, AR-enabled guide to VR & AR, published January 9, 2018, by Cool Blue Press.



 




We’d like to thank Charlie Fink for joining us as a guest author on our blog! Check out more of his work here – and if you’re ready to adopt VR for your own business, sign up for a free Yulio account!




This post was originally featured on Forbes.com on December 13, 2017

Used with permission. c. 2017 Charlie Fink, all rights reserved

Charlie Fink’s Metaverse, An AR-Enabled Guide to VR & AR

@charliefink l Charlie Fink.com l Wikipedia I LinkedIn

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AR, Architecture, Business, Industry News, News and Updates, VR, Your Business + Virtual Reality

If you’re feeling skeptical about whether or not 2018 is going to be the year of VR, you come by that skepticism honestly. VR has been plagued with over-hype, both from the press and headset makers. But, over the last 18 months, VR has ridden the hype cycle and we believe, come out the other side. Yulio clients have integrated VR into their practices and are on their way to it being an indispensable tool.


VR may not change your life yet – but it will change your business.


If you are still thinking VR is a transient fad and you can wait for it to pass…start thinking about it as a compelling technology that’s found it’s perfect time to shine. To help you get your head around the possibilities, here are a few stats we’ve rounded up from recent VR research we think you should see.



5 Years

Although in some form or other, VR has existed for several decades, the current boom in the technology was spawned by the Kickstarter campaign initiated just 5 short years ago by a little-known startup Oculus Rift. Oculus only ever sold (via Kickstarter) headsets as developer kits, but it still shifted 100,000.

A $2 billion acquisition later, and VR found its mojo, winning an ever-growing number of hearts, minds and new users across the globe.



11 Million+

Approximately 11 million virtual reality headsets were shipped in 2016, increasing to over 13 million in 2017.



51%

Over half of the U.S. population is aware of virtual reality devices and 22.4 million Americans are already VR users.



171 Million

Globally, right now, as I write, there are an estimated 171 million VR users.



$12.1 Billion

According to Statista, this very year, the virtual reality market is estimated to reach a value of 12.1 billion U.S. dollars. You think that’s a large number? You should see the next one.



$40.4 Billion

The projected VR software and hardware market is expected to reach $40.4 billion by 2020. That’s a lot of people using a lot of VR technology for a lot of different applications. By ‘a lot’, I mean …



1 Billion +

… Over one billion people will regularly access VR and AR content by 2020.
Yes, that’s a ‘billion’ people. IDC predicted last year that the compelling combination of virtual reality and augmented reality content will have a global audience that tops this crazy number by the turn of the next decade. Mental note – this must mean VR is no fad.



41%

Those still on the fence don’t plan to be for long. According to Google’s Consumer Survey conducted last year, more than a third of the adults said that they would give virtual reality a try if they had the chance to. Consumer interest is set to continue pursuing VR as one of the most emerging technologies.



44%

Who will make up the next wave of buyers? Millennials … and lots of them. According to Nielson, 44 percent of people interested in purchasing VR devices are between the ages of 18 and 34. This generation is one heavily motivated by innovative devices and will play a major role in defining what ‘sticks’.



250

To satiate that desire to get involved in VR, there are currently 250 VR headsets styles available for purchase on Amazon.com.



82 million

By all accounts, they’re selling well as, according to Statistic Brain, there are expected to be 82 million headsets in use by 2020.



90%

Of all those headsets sold worldwide, approximately 90% are mobile phone based. What does this tell you? Best to make all of your VR applications and content very mobile friendly.



So what can be garnered from all the big numbers in our VR research? VR is here to stay. It might not have always mirrored the hype, but it is unquestionably a growing force to be reckoned with.


Our advice? Don’t be alarmed. Fortunately, it’s not too late to get in on the VR game. It is, however, high time to get started. For the perfect way to get yourself up to speed, try our Yulio 5-day course and wow your colleagues with this pre-packed presentation full of our VR research on the state of the industry.

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AR, Culture, Lifestyle, Travel, VR

Anyone who has booked a vacation has experienced that uncertainty about value for your money because there is so much ambiguity when it comes to what your amenities are, the quality of the resort, what your actual hotel room will look like, and even what some of the sights are at the destination. Enter VR Travel, and watch as VR disrupts yet another industry.

Before VR, consumers have had to trust in reviews from other travellers, what could be false or misleading ratings from travel agencies, and the authenticity of experiences, photographs, and videos of the destination to drive the decision-making vehicle when investing in a trip; however, with the power of VR travel, this doesn’t have to be an issue anymore. Now, we have the power to show consumers exactly what they should expect to experience when they arrive at their destination. It’s true try-before-you-buy experience, and it’s a winning pitch for travel marketers.

VR can be used a couple different ways when it comes to traveling such as,


Marketing travel destinations

VR travel experiences can be used to promote and sell seats for travel destinations. Businesses such as resorts, airlines, travel agencies, and online travel e-commerce platforms can now show consumers popular destinations, destinations that they should consider traveling to, or destinations with deals on flights or accommodations by immersing them in VR.

By allowing consumers to have a detailed experience of the location in virtual reality, they can get a sense of presence in the destination and decide if it’s right for them, and if they should book or not.





 


Previewing destinations with VR travel allows booking agents to create an emotional connection that helps consumers see value and complete their bookings. Thomas Cook, for example, found there was a 190% uplift in New York excursions for people coming from the UK after people tried a 5 minute version of the holiday in VR.

“Thanks to working with Visualise [VR] Thomas Cook was the first travel company to deliver in-store virtual reality to customers, we’ve been nominated for numerous innovation awards, and we’ve seen a good conversion rate for bookings made after viewing the VR content.”


Lynne Slowey, Head of Digital Content, Thomas Cook

Carnival Cruises have also been early adopters of VR travel marketing – their 360-video tours and VR travel experiences are designed to provide the experience of an “instant Caribbean vacation” and entice emotional connections and aspirational bookings.



 



“We know that many first time cruisers find it difficult to understand what the cruising experience will be like until they’ve experienced it firsthand, so we decided to use 360 video technology to help get consumers closer to the spaces that make Carnival special.”



Stephanie Leavitt Esposito, Director of Social Media and Branded Content for Carnival

VR Travel takes away the hesitation to book by helping consumers better understand what they’re getting into. For a relatively small one-time investment, travel marketers can leverage the emotional connections of VR both in their physical locations and online to generate interest.



Confidence in booking

VR travel also allows you to see exactly what you’d be investing in before you buy. This could mean previewing what your room will look like in real-scale, ‘touring’ the resort or living accommodations before you arrive, or experiencing some of the views in the area you’re looking to travel to. Travelers can also decide if they want to upgrade their package if they want a more premium hotel or resort, or change their travel plans based on what they see.

The consumer will be able to have a taste of the destination, explore excursions that are available, view living accommodations, amenities, and more without any of the guesswork that typically comes with booking vacations and interpreting room upgrades and tiers.  With this, travelers gain the power to change their bookings if it’s not exactly what they were looking for and travel at ease to their destination knowing exactly what they should expect when they arrive. And travel agents have an easier time explaining and selling premium experiences.



 


Drive Booking Rates with VR Travel Previews

Separately, VR travel can help promote less popular destinations. There are amazing places travel agents know about but have a hard time selling to customers who don’t know someone who has been before – again, they’re looking for some assurance that they won’t have wasted their travel budget, and won’t end up somewhere they don’t want to be. VR travel options let them preview the location and get a sense for what it will be like to travel there in a way that brochures and still images cannot. VR travel lets people experience a locale on their own – they control the exploration of the experience and end up with a greater sense that it is authentic.


And we’re primed to respond to the sense of having a true preview of the experience, according to a study by YouVisit, a VR travel company, 13% of people who experience a vacation in virtual reality go on to either book a vacation or get in contact with lodging or transportation companies.



Allowing those who can’t travel to see new things

Of course, not everyone is physically capable of traveling or has a budget to allow them to travel often or at all. But now, anyone with a smartphone can experience a travel destination in virtual reality. The beauty of mobile VR, especially, means that anyone can slip on a headset and be immersed, which means that even those who aren’t mobile anymore can experience a paradise setting in the comfort of their own home. Some findings from a study found that 80% of the people who tried VR for traveling felt they were really taken to the destination.


VR travel has been the focus of health and wellness campaigns for those unable to travel – a recent experiment in a senior’s living center in Brazil allowed residents to use headsets to visit a destination they had never been to, or revisit past favorites. Residents reported feeling excited, and often nostalgic.



 

 

VR is the closest you can get to the real deal, and with the help of ambient audio and pristine image and video quality, the consumer can feel as if they’re actually there (without investing the time or money) which makes this the best selling and experiential medium for consumers looking to travel.

Marriott hotels have taken this a step further, with VRoom Service, which creates travel within travel. Guests at some locations can borrow a VR headset and tour Marriott VR Postcards, experiences in Chile, Rwanda or Beijing.

“Travel expands our minds and helps push our imagination – VRoom combines storytelling with technology, two things that are important to next generation travelers.”


Matthew Carroll, Vice President of Marriott Hotels

Marriott is on to something here, With 65% of 18-34-year-olds seeking to buy experiences over material things, the ‘experience economy’ is booming. VR travel is the key to ‘try before you buy’ and provides enough of a demo for VR travel marketers to sell experiences with an emotional connection.

If you’re looking to take a trip without breaking the bank, CN traveler identified some experiences recently that was almost as good as the real thing, so check them out and escape the winter blahs with VR travel.


To find out more about creating your own VR experiences, check out our free 5-day course, or create a VR experience for free with a Yulio account.

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