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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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Architecture, Business, Design, Everything Else, How to, Resource, Technical, VR, Your Business + Virtual Reality

VR for architecture is often looked at as a key presentation tool to benefit your clients. Don’t get me wrong, that’s definitely something that VR does best over all other presentation tools in the industry – VR has the power to illustrate the unknown… it generates long-lasting, memorable experiences for clients that are much more tangible and impactful than anything they’ve seen before. Plus, VR provides a window on reality instead of what could be a hard-to-imagine mock-up, so there’s less guessing and more understanding when it comes to the details.



 



So, since VR is so successful for presenting designs to clients, we often lose sight of the other uses VR for architecture has that can amp up your VR game. We’ve compiled a list of other fun and useful features that VR can do that most people forget about (plus, these features don’t require you do to any extra work – so there’s that too!)


Get buddy-buddy with your contractor

Yes, ok, this is still using VR as a presentation tool – guilty – But like we said, VR is the best tool to use to show someone a design in the clearest, most precise way possible – so why not show everyone?

Consider sharing your VR for Architecture project with the construction group that will be executing your design. Having a better idea of the expectations behind a project is never a bad thing – in the end, you’ll feel more confident about getting your design constructed perfectly, and your client will be relieved that the folks building their project know exactly what you want to be built. Plus, you’ll end up growing your relationship with your contractor. Forming a bond over the work you two share will strengthen the quality of communication and heighten the understanding around a design so the execution is a more flawless experience.  






 


Show some options

We find good use of navigational hotspots to show the same space but with different finishes or design details. Take, for instance, if you’re redoing a kitchen – having the ability to change between options such as a backsplash, countertop,  cabinet materials, placement of a kitchen island, or even just seeing the options in different times of the day could drastically help with quick decision-making.




 



Or look beyond VR for architecture and see how it can help interior designers see what the room will look like for guests and make adjustments to the space has better flow for when it’s lived-in. This could mean making small improvements here and there such as “what would it look like if we took out that wall” or “let’s try adding a separation there – it would be nice to define the spaces”. Seeing these small adjustments in true-scale could make a huge difference when it comes to how it all looks when everything is said and done.





Too busy? Dial it down

Sometimes when you first show a client a design, the details can be distracting – so rather than looking at the layout of a space, they may be more focused on the color of the brick, or the landscape. We see that by changing the resolution or material of the scene, the space is much less distracting, and you can focus on what really matters, which is the design at-large during the appropriate phase of the project.








 



Don’t sweat it – just see it

You also don’t have to sweat the labor of moving pieces around or staging the day before an open house. With VR for architecture and design, you can show different configurations of furniture or decor in the same space to see which version works best. So whether that means staging your living room with different furniture and decor arrangements, reconfiguring a furniture showroom to show all of the unique ways you can use the pieces, or seeing what fits where best inside a museum – the aim of the game is show the best configurations of the same space as possible – and it’d be a lot harder to do without VR.



 




Asking for opinions can only make your designs better

VR collaboration is not just useful for communication between clients and designers, but it helps gain quality feedback from all kinds of parties involved with a design. Collaboration is the difference between finding aspects of a design that don’t make sense when you see them in true-scale, versus what could very well be “textbook” for a design. VR collaborations help you find the issues with your peers so you can make the necessary improvements to save yourself more time, money (and sanity) in the process.




 




Breathe some life into your design

Interior designers may want to add design details in their VR projects such as vignettes to add some presence to the space. There’s nothing more chilling than experiencing an empty design (hello, zombie apocalypse), so designers add touches like vignettes to make the space feel more ‘lived-in’ – it gives you a better idea of what it would look like if it were built and open to the public. This will make the person viewing the project feel less isolated in the space, and have a better ability to read into a visual story that’s being told through the design (e.g. a doctors office design with vignettes sitting in the waiting chairs makes the space feel more inviting than one that shows an empty room).  



 




Display your portfolio in VR

Having the novelty of VR for your design portfolio is an awesome way to show off your design skills, while also endorsing that you have experience with some of the latest tech in the industry. The idea of having aVR for architecture portfolio means that you can take it with you anywhere without lugging around heavy equipment, folders, or bags/briefcases – you can simply pull out your phone and a pair of Homido mini VR glasses (which can actually fold to fit in your pocket) and you’re set to present! Plus, if you’re a business – you can handout branded goggles (the Google Cardboard and Homido Mini glasses are probably the cheapest options that offer the best experience, while also having options to add your personal branding! – talk about adding to the portfolio experience!)



 

 



Throw it up on your website or share it with your network

Add a little something-something to your website and seduce some of your visitors. Showing that you have and use VR tells people that you know your stuff, you’re up-to-date with the latest and greatest tech in the industry, and of course, if the novelty doesn’t w-o-w them, then your design certainly will! Each VR project comes with its own unique embed code to post to your site – or you have the option to share the project with a link through a tweet, a text, an email, or other social media channels.




 



Show off your stuff!

Another benefit several of our clients use VR for is for marketing. Using VR is a great way to show off your work to your audience. VR excites people – in fact, 81% of people who see something in VR, tell their friends about it – so if you’re looking to get a reach with the content you’re showing – VR is certainly the way to do it. VR content can help aid a brand story and immerse users into a storyliving experience. Join your following and bask in the excitement your content brings! Having a memorable experience is what VR is all about.



 






These are just a few examples of the hundreds upon hundreds of ways you can customize your VR project and utilize the many features that VR can do! And with these tips, which require minimal to no extra effort, they’re easy ways to amp up your designs and your skills working with VR technology.


Want to try out some of these awesome features? Sign up for a free 30-day Yulio account for full access to our feature set. We’ve built Yulio from the ground up to be the ideal VR for architecture tool. Need a hand getting started? Grab a seat at our bi-weekly Yulio training webinar hosted by our own Client Success Manager for some insider tips and tricks, and full walkthroughs of everything you need to know to be successful with Yulio!

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Everything Else, Your Business + Virtual Reality
Most of the attention that today’s Virtual Reality technology gets is focused on its uses in the gaming and entertainment world. But any architect or interior designer who’s half awake knows that the A&D community is in the middle of a VR revolution: and it’s not over yet. Here are three ways VR is changing our industry already. Who knows what’ll be next?  

New client experience

The way your clients experience the collaboration process will be unlike they’ve ever experienced before. Instead of attempting to visualize their project from a piece of paper, they’ll know exactly what you’ve got in mind and exactly what they’re getting prior to construction. This reduces hesitation, improves their decision-making abilities and makes them feel a lot more comfortable about the process–which, for most non-designers, can be an intimidating one. Being able to place your clients in your designs, and guide them through the entire experience with tools like Yulio’s collaboration feature, is a first-class experience they can’t help but love. But with new experiences come new expectations. Once your clients have experienced VR-assisted collaboration, nothing else will compare. Next time around, you can be sure there’s one thing they’ll be asking for.  

New services = new revenue stream

With new technology comes new opportunities for adding value to clients–and, well, making money. Take one of our clients–a major Canadian design firm–who use Yulio to offer a service they’d never been able to offer before. The firm created a new service offering and revenue stream entirely around designing ‘virtual’ designs for empty units for sale by a one of Canada’s top 10 national real estate companies. Before this, the real estate company was spending $50-$60 per square foot to construct a real-life demo unit. So, their new virtual demo arrangement is a win for both parties. And can you guess who the buyers turn to when it’s time for real design work?  
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Everything Else, Your Business + Virtual Reality
To most of us, Virtual Reality is interesting–but intimidating. The most common objections we get from architects and designers usually stem from fear: “I’m not technical–how will I know how to use VR? Will everyone on my team be able to learn this technology? What about my clients?” A mobile-powered VR platform like Yulio solves all of the above, and more.

Converting from CAD to VR

Converting to VR from  your authoring environment is simple with VR CAD plugins, and requires virtually no extra work. Just render your 3D environment with the plugin specific to your CAD tool, and you’ve got everything you need to upload to Yulio.

File Management

Once you’re ready to upload, it gets even easier. Yulio’s file management system is as simple as it gets: if you know how to use Dropbox (or a computer, really), you know how to manage your files in Yulio.  

Viewing in VR

Viewing your VR files is as simple as downloading the free Yulio Viewer app to your smartphone and connecting it to your Yulio account. Any time you want to view a design in VR, just click ‘View in VR’ on yulio.com and it’ll be sent to your phone. This makes the process of handing a headset to a client smooth and painless. Once they’re immersed in VR, you’ll be able to guide them through a space using Yulio’s live-stream Collaborate feature, giving your client an impressive (but not overwhelming) experience.

Your Clients

At the end of the day, clients are your top priority. You’ll no doubt want to make sure their VR experience is enjoyable and hassle-free. That’s why Yulio is designed for you and your clients. If your client wants to view VR designs in their own smartphone, all they’ll need is the app and your design’s special URL, which you can share with them in seconds. The best part about the simplicity of mobile-powered VR is that it comes at no cost to sophistication–or power. Even with a simple smartphone and a pocket-sized headset, the reactions VR elicits are one of a kind. Give it a try–you’ll be surprised how easy it is.  
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Everything Else, News and Updates, Your Business + Virtual Reality
We’ve got something exciting to announce: you can now view 360 photos in Yulio! If you’re a Yulio user, check out our Knowledge Base article for more technical information and a guide on using the feature. Why should you use 360 photos? In the same way that a 2D image of an architectural rendering is nothing like experiencing that same rendering in Virtual Reality, viewing a 360 photograph is an entirely new experience: it’s captivating, fully immersive, and communicates better than anything how it really feels to be in a space. Your only competitor? Brick and mortar. Our clients use Yulio’s 360 photo capabilities in a number of ways:
  • Showcasing before and after photos in portfolios
  • Showcasing before photos with ‘after’ renderings
  • Presenting spaces off-site, without the need to for either party to travel
It’s early days, but 360 photography–and the entire Virtual Reality industry–is proving itself to be incredibly valuable for the A&D community (and their clients!). Ready to give it a go? Sign up for a free 30-day trial of Yulio’s Virtual Reality software today.
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Everything Else, News and Updates, Your Business + Virtual Reality
There’s no denying it: the world is getting smaller. The technology we use on a daily basis is getting smaller as it gets better. With the wearable revolution, the rise of the tablet and the increasing preference for phones over computers, our world is going micro. keep reading
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Everything Else, Your Business + Virtual Reality

Though virtual reality is a new tool for many, Yulio’s easy-to-use technology is designed for use by the whole team–from VPs, to designers, to the sales team.

“Conference room, now!”

It’s a good idea to introduce your new VR technology to the whole company before you begin. Explain why you’re using it, and the benefits it will bring to the entire team.

Outline how it will be used within the company, and assign roles and responsibilities to various team members.

Above all, make sure they know that this is designed to make their jobs easier, not harder. It’s hard to argue with that.

Side note: If they haven’t tried it until now, make sure you put a headset on them! If there’s one way to get people excited about VR, it’s letting them try it.

Use Yulio’s user management capabilities

It’s easy to set up your team in Yulio. You’ll need a Standard or Plus account, and admin rights to invite, delete and assign roles to users.

You can assign a user to one of three roles: admin, author, and presenter.

Give admin rights to your in-house VR champion–this gives them full capabilities within Yulio, including the ability to manage users.

For your architects, designers and 3D modellers, author rights are your best bet. This gives them control over file management, but not user management.

For your salespeople or team members who’ll only need to select and present VR experiences for viewing, presenter rights are what you need. They’ll be able to navigate through your files, and view the files they need, without making any changes within the system.

With your team’s roles designated within Yulio, we think  you’ll find working with Yulio a lot smoother.

For a detailed explanation on assigning user roles, check out our article on the Yulio Knowledge Base about this.

Get them comfortable

Don’t throw your team into the deep end. Although Yulio is designed with grandma-tested simplicity, it’s still new technology, and your team will inevitably have their inhibitions about it.

Make sure they’re comfortable with how it works before they start using it (this is particularly important for client-facing team members).

Let them know that any problems they have can be directed to our friendly support staff at support@yulio.com and 416-499-2227. Of course, there’s always our trusty Knowledge Base if you’re looking for some quick self-help.

 
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Everything Else, Your Business + Virtual Reality

So you’ve just stepped into the world of virtual reality, and you’re quickly discovering what an amazing business tool it can be. Oh, and how straightup cool it is. But if you’re wondering how to make virtual reality a more integrated part of your brand and service offering, here’s a few tips to get you started. keep reading

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Everything Else, Your Business + Virtual Reality

Ultimately, there are two things you’ll need to consider when buying a virtual reality (VR) headset for the first time: cost, and quality.

While there are dozens of headsets out there, and more joining the market every day (a quick Google search will leave you feeling more than a little overwhelmed), here are a few classics we recommend for first-timers.*

keep reading
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