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Business, Employee Highlight, Lifestyle, VR, Your Business + Virtual Reality

Welcome to our Employee Highlight Reel where we introduce to you a Yulio VR expert on the team – and the people whose ideas and sense of how VR and AR should work have shaped Yulio from the ground up.


The Yulio VR expert 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 variety of 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 continue our series with ‘The CAD Man’ himself, Oussama. Oussama Belhenniche is one of the guys behind-the-scenes of Yulio on the development team, but he works on one of the major pieces that makes Yulio as business-ready as we are. CAD plugins are essential for making our business-experience as seamless and simple as possible, and it’s all because of Oussama. He works to improve this flow between Yulio and your CAD plugin so that technology doesn’t cause friction in the process of creating VR experiences. By focussing on CAD plugins, Yulio lets designers be designers and use the tools they already use.


So, Oussama tell me a bit about yourself.

So I’m an electrical engineer by training, but a software developer by choice. I went into software because the feedback loop is shorter than electrical engineering – if you don’t know what that means, basically when you make changes to your product you get instant feedback if you do it in software rather than hardware – that’s why you don’t see a lot of hardware startups. It’s very difficult to achieve that same feedback loop.

 

I went into software in my second year of university at Ryerson University in downtown Toronto. So yeah! Four years later I graduated and started looking for jobs without exactly knowing what I wanted to do, so I applied to a bunch and just went from there!



How did you find Yulio?

I found Yulio on a startup recruitment website. What struck me was the mission that Yulio was on – getting from a 3D format to a VR medium – it was something I was genuinely interested in learning. I knew what 3D was and I’ve had experience working with 3D objects and 3D schematics from university, and I knew what VR was, but I didn’t know how the two connected. So when I saw the job posting, I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn how they do it and become a Yulio VR expert.



Tell me a bit about your role at Yulio

Well, I do a little bit of everything. Sometimes I work on the website, sometimes I work on the core-side, but mainly I’m the CAD guy – which means I do a lot of the work surrounding the CAD plugins that we offer. The plugins are tools we have for our clients who use different kinds of CAD programs in their business; they make it as easy as a click of a button to bring their 3D scenes into glorious VR. So my job is to try and work on those plugins to make that transition as easy and seamless as possible for our clients.



Tell me a bit about your first experience with VR?

Before I came to Yulio I had never tried VR before, so I played a VR game where you’re shooting at zombies in a desert. When I first tried it I didn’t really like it because I wasn’t wearing my glasses – the experience was kind of blurry and pixelated, but now that I’ve been able to try it with my glasses on, it was much better! I can see why people would lose hours in it – it’s very immersive, especially if you have headphones in, it’s like you’re there. Yeah! So I spent about half an hour playing it for the first time.  



If you got to dream up any VR experience and immerse yourself into it, what would you choose?

I’d like to see more VR in education. We’ve seen it in games and we see it in enterprise software like Yulio is doing, which is awesome, but I’d like to see something like ‘The Magic School Bus’. Imagine THAT in VR – it would be super cool. Like, “Ok class, today we’re learning about biology. We’re learning about hearts and what it does and the different components” – I’ve always struggled with that kind of stuff, so yes, I understand what the teacher is saying but I can’t really visualize it. But, if every student had their own headset, then they can explore the heart together. I could definitely see the value added to education through VR.

 

Or museums, for example. If you have a painting of an artistic rendition of a war scene and a  VR headset next to the painting. You can look at the painting and when you put on the headset, you can also feel what it’s like to be inside the painting itself.



Outside of your VR job, what are your hobbies?

I like running to keep myself active. I like cooking and baking. I like watching British Bake-Off… which is a British TV show about cooking. It’s a nice show for when you just want to relax and see some British people cook. I like to relax and hang out with friends and play video games sometimes.



What’s your favorite Friday afternoon office game that we’ve played?

I like telestrations! People guess what you draw and then the next person draws what you guessed. I like to see where the disconnects happen. It also has a message that communication is very important in a workplace – If you say something wrong then it can propagate itself to being really wrong down the line, so you have to make sure that communications are clear and precise.



We’d like to say a big thanks to Oussama 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!

 

If you want to learn more about the VR/AR industry, and things to consider when you’re looking into VR solutions, then sign up for our FREE 5-day email course to get up-to-speed with VR. Want to try Yulio for yourself? Sign up for a free 30-day trial with full access to our feature set! (Have a CAD program and want to use Oussama’s plugins? Click here to download your CAD plugin!)

 

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Employee Highlight, Lifestyle, VR

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!

Fun fact

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!

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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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