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

At Yulio, we’re always thinking about friction points you may have in your business for using VR. That’s why we are so excited to share our latest feature release with you – floor plan navigation – the easier way to explore large VR spaces!

Floorplan navigation integrates a traditional way of viewing designs, the 2D “dollhouse” view with VR for simpler navigation and presentation of VR projects.


The new feature lets you add a ‘dollhouse view’, ‘floorplan’ or exterior image to your project, and link your scenes to the appropriate spot on the floorplan. This allows you to more easily provide context and flow to your viewer, and organize complex projects with multiple hotspots. Tell your design story more easily by showing an overview of how the elements all fit together.


This new feature is part of our continuing commitment to be the best VR presentation tool for business and can be viewed both in browser mode or in VR headsets. It allows viewers to better understand how the different scenes in your project fit together and is a more flexible way of presenting a space. Rather than scrolling through each hotspot or photo in order, pop out to the floorplan view at any time to jump around the design. This flexibility allows you to have more fluid design presentations as you jump to areas of interest, and lets your clients explore links you send in the manner that most makes sense to them.



Floorplan navigation is available immediately to all Yulio clients. To learn more and begin using it, visit our knowledge base. Or to create a free, 30-day trial account and design your own project!

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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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Architecture, Business, Design, Resource, Technical, VR

Exploring new technology always means that there will be a whole new dictionary of terms to learn and breadth of knowledge to understand – especially a technology that can have such extensive uses like VR has.

But don’t fret! – fortunately, we’ve created a crash-course and compiled 20 of the major VR terms that you need to know to sound like a VR expert in a matter of minutes.



VRE

This term stands for “virtual reality experience”, which essentially is what a session in VR is called. This is something we use at Yulio a lot and it’s becoming more and more widely used for a single VR story or experience.


FPR

This stands for “fixed point render” which, for mobile VR, is what a single viewpoint is called. When you’re in VR and you’re looking around a space, you’re standing in a fixed point render. FPR means that you’re viewing a single render from a fixed location so you can look around in 3-degrees of head movement, but you cannot walk or change perspective outside of where you’re standing. In Yulio, you can add and link multiple FPRs inside one VRE. So your full VR experience can contain many FPR scenes.


Hotspot




Hotspots are a way to link multiple fixed point renders into a VR experience. Hotspots allow for: a better idea of size and scale, a way to navigate your virtual reality experience by simply looking and going, a way to see multiple design options, or perspectives. Adding hotspots in your virtual reality experience is a great way to make your designs more spatial and immersive in VR. In Yulio, you can adjust a hotspots size to create a feeling of depth and distance within a VRE.


Goggle-less Viewer or ‘fishbowl’



Allows users to view, click, and drag their line of vision directly from their browser without having to download an app or put on a headset. This type of viewing meant to preview the VR content without having to immerse yourself completely with a headset.



 

Presence

Presence is what VR expert content creators strive for when they immerse their clients. The goal for VR content is to have the viewer to feel as if they are actually present within the content as opposed to just wearing earphones and a headset. The idea of having ‘presence’ is really asking how immersed the viewer feels in VR – ideally, the viewer should feel present in the VR content based on the quality of the experience versus the experience in real life.


Haptics

Haptics refers to any sort of interaction and response through touch, or what users feel while they’re in VR. Haptics allow the user to feel more connected to the content they’re immersed in and can lead to a more memorable experience. An example of this in VR could be if the user is virtually traveling to a sunny or snowy destination. The user, although not literally experiencing warm sun or cold winds, can still experience the sensation through haptics.


HMD

HMD stands for, “head-mounted displays” – a vehicle for viewing VR that you wear on your head. HMD’s have screens that are in close proximity to the user’s eyes which allows them to immerse themselves by covering the entire field of vision. HMD’s range from headsets such as the Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift, or the more wired helmets that you may see in tethered VR like HTC Vive. Every headset varies in quality of the display, weight of the headset itself, and whether or not it is tethered, so if you’re considering investing in a head-mounted display, then make sure you know your options!


Interactive Virtual Reality

Interactive VR refers to a VR experience that is, well – interactive. This type of VR has components of storytelling which means that the user has more control in their environment and they can choose their own path within the experience  – similar to a ‘choose your own adventure’ story.


A good example of interactive VR is from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) – they released a ‘make your own decisions’ VR experience where you are a designated driver, and you need to make the appropriate decisions to be able to drive yourself and friends home safely, and based on your actions, determines the outcome of the night. This campaign was to raise awareness of making conscious safe decisions as a responsible adult at the bar.




Virtual Visits

Virtual visits refer to the total number of views or users who watch a VRE. Marketers looking to become VR experts will want to note this information because they can not only pinpoint who their users are and how large their audience is watching, but also what they respond to which includes what they look at more, and what may not be working during an early phase of marketing.


360 Video

360 viewing is similar to an app-less viewer or the ‘fishbowl’ experience in that the content can be viewed without needing a VR headset. Many social platforms, like YouTube support 360 video, which allows people to click and drag around the experience, or physically move their phone around them to see the scene as if they’re in VR.


4D Virtual Reality

4D VR refers to an elevated or heightened experience of VR. Many different kinds of marketing campaigns include a 4D element layered onto a VR experience so that the user can have a much more emotionally connected experience to the content being presented.

Samsung has done some great campaigns in the past which include a 4D components such as roller coasters, motorcycles and more.




 

Stereoscopic

This essentially means creating an image for each eye, from a slightly different perspective. It helps create the sense of depth in some realistic VR. When captured at slightly different angles, two photos or videos create a greater sense of depth within the scene. Not all VRE’s are stereoscopic, however, if you’re viewing from a mobile VR headset, they most likely are.






A mobile VR headset will split the image for you so you have a two-eye experience and can have the enhanced illusion of depth within the VRE.


Stitch

Stitching refers to the combination of multiple images or videos from multiple cameras to create one 360-degree experience. The idea is that from each device, the media can be ‘stitched’ together to create one unified design from which can be experienced in 360-degree viewing (from a browser or in VR). One issue that can arise from stitching is the evidence of the seams which show where one image or video stops and another begins (same idea as the seam of fabric – you can see where one fabric ends and another begins).


Head Tracking

Head tracking refers to the movement of VR content parallel to the movement of your head. The VR content should move at the same time and angle that you’re moving your head to mimic real sight and perspective within the VRE.


Eye Tracking

Similar to head tracking, eye tracking refers to how your sight is being tracked when looking within a VRE (as opposed to the position of your head).


Heatmaps

In marketing, eye tracking can be used for heatmaps, which notes where the user has looked and creates saturated paths and points to show where the most time and focus were directed to within the media. Heat mapping technology can be used in a similar way by brands looking to understand the level of attention their products are drawing within displays densely filled with competitors. If products are being bypassed and/or specific competitive brands are getting high levels of engagement, brands are able to evaluate factors such as product packaging, location on displays, etc.





 

Position Tracking

Position tracking refers to sensors that can determine where in a space you’re located and is used to continually track your movement to coordinate with your virtual movement within a VRE.

In tethered systems such as the HTC Vive, when in virtual reality, you can physically move your body and see the movement within the virtual space. Similarly, some VR headsets come with controllers that allow you to control your movement in the VR space, however in these, you’re not physically moving, but using your controller to dictate the movement. Position tracking is limited by the size of the room, and length of the cable (if using tethered VR).



FOV

FOV stands for “field of view”, and represents the range of vision of which the user can physically see. VR experiences, when wearing headsets such as the Samsung Gear VR, present the user with a field of view to the extent of their vision – reaching their peripheral vision which creates realistic immersion for the user. VR field of view does its best to mimic what the real human eye would see when looking at a space – so the higher field of view, the better (meaning, the further the user can see in a VRE without the content cutting to a black edge, the better immersion for the user).


Latency

Generally, latency refers to a glitch or lag between the VR content and what the real-life experience may be, which can deteriorate the VR experience for the user. An example could be if you’re immersed in video VR content, and the actions and dialogue of a character lags – here we would identify that there is poor latency because, in real-life, people’s actions don’t lag. Latency used to be a huge issue with VR back when it was initially being developed but isn’t a problem anymore.


Simulator Sickness

Simulator sickness, similar to motion sickness, refers to the nauseous feeling that users get when there is a disconnect between what they see and what their body feels. When these aspects aren’t parallel with one another, users can feel uneasy, dizzy, and even get nauseous. This isn’t something that happens all the time, and it doesn’t affect everyone – but this confusion between your brain and your body means that visual cues of movement that you see aren’t processing in your brain correctly which would allow you to avoid simulator sickness.



As more and more people explore VR as a medium, and more use-cases are discovered, this list of basic terms will grow – but for the meantime, this should help launch you on your journey to become a VR expert.




If you’re interested in learning some more of the basics to VR take our 5-day free VR course or try your hand in creating a VR experience for free with a Yulio account.

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Business, News and Updates, Technical, VR, Your Business + Virtual Reality
Top 7 Insights from Over 1000 Hours of VR User Testing
Looking for someone who has decades of experience in VR learning? Pretty tough to find. When it comes to VR, Yulio’s very own Chief Product Officer, Ian Hall is pretty much as good as it gets. Not that you’d hear that from him. Ian has been working in the visualization space since 1994. Over 20 years. A lifetime in technology. Back then, in the original, early 90s introduction of VR it consisted of gigantic, neck numbing headsets which offered very little in the way of movement but plenty in the way of nausea. It has come a long way since those early ventures and Ian has been there throughout. He and other members of his team at Yulio have logged more than 1000 hours of user testing and VR learning, working with subjects from ages 2 to 86 as they took their first steps and then journeyed into the immersive world of VR. As you’d expect, there have been a lot of insights gained along the way.Here are some of the best which may just help you deliver an incredible VR experience first time around;  

Our #1 VR Learning: Say no to headstraps
This sounds silly, we know. But it’s a fact that people are sensitive about how they look. Many people become uncomfortable and self-conscious if asked to strap on a headset that risks messing up their hair and/or makeup – especially in a business environment. After seeing a large number of test subjects, including men and women of all ages, be reluctant to look at a VR experience, we knew it was causing a barrier to VR enjoyment and adoption. Ian personally cut the head straps off all of our VR sets in the Yulio lab and they’ve never been seen since. When using VR, you want to avoid any barriers that might get in the way of people fully engaging with an experience and one way to do that is by keeping them looking sharp. It sounds simple, but it came up over and over again throughout our VR learning hours – so save yourself some trouble and get rid of those straps.




Pop in and out
Several of our clients have reported that while their end clients were anxious to use VR to better understand a design, they wanted to use it as a jumping off point for conversation and engagement – not spend a lot of time exploring the VR scene in isolation. This has been borne out in our labs, and during our many VR collaborate sessions (Collaborate is a Yulio feature that lets users join and view a VR scene together – think webex for VR). Users typically spend about 40 seconds looking at a scene before their natural inclination is to lower the headset and discuss. And they almost always start looking into the center of the design, then glance up, and to the right. So you can anticipate what they’ll be discussing first.


 

For many people using VR in a business setting, it’s a new and unfamiliar experience. It can cause some anxiety with users being wary of feeling foolish, nauseous or feeling blindfolded by the VR headset. The simple, yet ultra-effective solution to this is creating a ‘Fast VR’ experience whereby users can simply raise the headset to glance inside, then put it down and talk about what they saw. The user maintains control and is able to dwell on the experience for as long as they feel comfortable with. And it’s yet another reason we believe headstraps are the enemy of Fast VR.


 

Mobile is the way to practical VR

 

Don’t get us wrong, tethered headsets are incredible. Yulio has several in its lab and most Yulio employees spend some time in one every week to live out their VR dreams. They deliver an unmatchable immersive experience that can seriously blur the line between real and virtual. For business, however, they just aren’t that practical. The clue is in the title. Tethered rigs limit use to in-office and we’ve heard from countless A&D professionals that more than 80% of their designer-client interactions happen elsewhere. While the novelty of complex tethered headsets might wow clients in the short term, delivering VR through mobile means it can be set up in seconds and used anywhere, at any time.

Make it social
Immersed shouldn’t mean isolated. Providing social connectors can help people feel far more comfortable in a VR experience and know they aren’t doing something silly or embarrassing. Broadcast what the user is seeing on a monitor so that it attracts attention to the experience and gets everyone involved. By doing this, the user is able to lead a wider experience and gain validation and assurance from those around them. And, when no one is actively using the VR experience, you can still be showcasing a series of images.


 

 Have an alternative
For as many headsets as Ian and the Yulio team have owned and experimented with, they realize they aren’t yet in every home and every office. Because of this, it makes sense that all VR experiences should be accessible without them. Yulio VREs are all viewable via a web-based FishTank Mode meaning everyone can turn on any device and see what all the fuss is about. Although you lose some sense of scale and space vs. viewing a stereoscopic image in a VR headset, a browser-based viewer lets extremely motion sensitive or remote viewers view a scene in an approximation of VR. And for the record – most fishtank viewers (83%) start by dragging the scene up, and to the right.


 

Where to use it? Everywhere.
VR is a compelling combination of novel, practical and cool and those most successfully leveraging the technology are making the most of this unique feature set. It draws interest and excitement from people who have heard of the technology but never used it – and at this point in time, there are still many of those. We don’t expect it to last – an increasing number of companies are writing VR presentations into their A&D RFPs. But for now, be ready to show off with a  portfolio in your pocket. Storing A&D portfolios on a mobile device and carrying lightweight Homido glasses means design work can be shown off at any moment. By planning ahead we’ve seen realtors able to virtually transform empty blank space giving clients an on-the-spot virtual sample of what they could eventually create. By letting those same clients walk away with realtor branded viewing goggles and the experience uploaded to their phone, designer profiles can be raised and reputations cemented.  

 

 

Get creative and experiment
Our mission at Yulio has always been to create great, practical tools and then get out of the way to let users get creative. It’s worked out well. Through giving designers and marketers the tool to flex their muscles, we’ve seen some great ways that design and brand stories can be told. The medium is young, and the winners are those taking chances through experimentation and trying ever more engaging ways to tell a great story. Use these learnings to ensure your story gets told without barriers like head straps, or negative experiences like a feeling of isolation get in the way of that story.


For much more detail on all we’ve learned in our virtual adventures, sign up for Yulio’s free 5-day course on Business VR. Give us 10 minutes a day and you’ll be on your way to VR expertise….you can skip 999 hours or so.
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Architecture, Business, Design, Technical, VR, Your Business + Virtual Reality
For anyone who’s designed and constructed a building, there’s a unique feeling of unease – bordering on nausea – that can wash over you as you step into half-built rooms for the first time. Wait. It is definitely smaller/bigger/lower/higher/darker/brighter than I’d envisioned it from the plans. Even for trained professionals, space is a very hard concept to fully appreciate using imagination alone. How big of a space is big enough without being too big? How small is cost-effective yet isn’t restrictive? Accurately evaluating three-dimensional spaces from two-dimensional designs is like trying to appreciate a symphony by looking at the sheet music. In the majority of our client conversations, addressing this major pain point for both designers and their customers was felt to be one of the defining strengths of VR.

Speaking of VR Scale
Finding a way to step inside a building before it’s a building and evaluate each spatial element is a compelling prospect for those involved in the business of architecture and design.


 

Jonathon Anderson, Assistant Professor Interior Design at Ryerson University acknowledged that his students find it hard to fully conceptualize scale until they can experience designs virtually. With VR, I see my students immediately ‘get’ the space. What I mean by that is that they understand scale and proportion in a completely different way through the VR experience when comparing it to the spaces they view on a screen. It allows my students to understand space far better and far more quickly.” Beyond discovering where spatial elements which appeared to work ‘on paper’ but didn’t when viewed virtually, using VR to help develop a better understanding of space, Jonathon felt his students became far better equipped to design for those who would go on to build something for real, with this increased understanding in VR scale.

When big actually means BIG
Game of Thrones creator George R. R. Martin was purported to have seen a scale model for the 700 ft high wall he described in the ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ books and realized it actually looked absurd when seen in three-dimensional context. It’s a case of not being able to picture what 700 ft really looks like.


 

Big is a relative term and this was clearly demonstrated in Architectural firm, DSAI’s, brief from its partnership with Ingenium, Canada’s Museums of Science and Innovation. DSAI’s role was to design an adjacent building to the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa. The issue of scale was a major one in the project as the building had to be designed specifically to house the Science and Technology entire collection, which encompassed objects that ranged in size from hand tools to actual trains. In the words of Architect Andrew Chung of DSAI, “To really understand the scale, we introduced VR to the project. We needed to see how big these items were for our own understanding. It allowed us to talk about things (to the client) in a perspectival manner that captures scale in a much better way than solely using a 2D drawing. People who see our 2D drawings or blueprints still don’t really comprehend the scale until they view the VR experience.”


 

Until clients saw the experience for themselves, they would ask DSAI “does it really have to be so large?”. When viewing in VR scale, the difference between something at train scale vs. human scale made all the difference.

VR for Engagement – helping clients be better clients and designers be better designers
Another recurring theme from conversations with A&D professionals is VR’s ability to engage clients in the design process in a very different way. With any new space design that’s going to go on to be constructed, there is a lot at stake, both emotionally and financially and therefore, all parties fully engaged in the process can make a significant difference to the eventual success of a project.

When speaking with Principals at ALSC Architects – who often present to school boards – they described going to present designs using plans and static renders and not commonly getting a lot of questions or feedback. It was challenging for people to place themselves in a design using traditional presentation formats and took time for them to assimilate enough information on a design to then feel confident questioning it. Through sharing designs in VR and enabling clients to experience them on their own before being presented to, ALSC found it evoked something very different, inspiring clients to ask a different set of questions, be more informed, take more ownership and get more involved in the process. As a result of clients becoming more involved and seeing that their ideas could then be translated by ALSC into meaningful, beneficial changes, overall designs improved. When people understand more fully what they’re getting, they will ask what more can be done, what more can be created with this space? I want clients to be part of the inspiration of a project and we find that when they are, designs tend to rise to another level.” Indy Dehal, Principal, ALSC Architects.


A lot of people are investigating VR technology right now, and wondering what its key benefits outside of novelty might be. Our clients report, over and over again how much their level of engagement with their clients increase after they see a design in VR and better understand it. And that’s absolutely the power of VR – to create an unambiguous window on design. To experience your own design in VR, try a free Yulio account and learn more about the VR landscape with our SlideShare presentation.
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Architecture, Business, Design, Technical, VR, Your Business + Virtual Reality
While the debate will carry on around the market’s expectation of VR’s potential versus the realities of consumer adoption, VR has gone ahead and found a growing number of ways to make business, and industry, more efficient, more effective and better connected to its customers. And not always in the most obvious ways. Take VR retail as an example. With the holiday season upon us, retailers are looking for exciting experiences to lure shoppers in-store, and away from clicking the shopping cart button on online behemoths. VR retail has a place to play in deepening shopping engagement – regardless of whether or not you own a headset, or ever plan to shop inside one. The reality is that most of us probably won’t use VR to buy shoes or clothing – there wouldn’t be much point. VR wouldn’t solve a problem that still images and videos can’t resolve in terms of showing off the product, and it doesn’t get you any closer to the real world fit and appearance of the product. Indeed, some manufacturers will probably avoid using VR, given that it’s all too real – a VR representation of the hottest smartphone on the market looks a lot like a black brick – it lacks the stylized gleaming corners and screen angle of a stylized still photo generated by a marketing department. It’s controlled by the user, not the designer, and that’s a pretty big shift. But even if you didn’t wear a headset to purchase your fall wardrobe with VR retail shopping tools, that doesn’t mean VR isn’t transforming the retail industry.

Although Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba has led the way in creating the first virtual mall, VR shopping remains a channel that’s yet to mature. But the technology is starting to have a big impact for retailers, both behind the scenes and through influencing shoppers with savvy brand storytelling.

Sharing Experiences
UK retailer TopShop has been leading the way with brand engagement through VR, which makes sense given their tech-savvy demographic. Research from Sonar (J. Walter Thompson’s proprietary research unit) showed that Generation Z is very interested in the experiential nature of stores and subsequently, 80% of them are more likely to visit a store offering VR and AR technology. There has also been plenty written on how millennials prefer authentic experiences to material items, and TopShop’s use of VR is combining in-store and virtual retail experiences.



 

  VR drew so much attention that TopShop created a new experience in the Spring of 2017 to transform its flagship Oxford Street (London) store into a VR waterslide through the city. Participants used a real slide in store, combined with VR gear to expand the experience. While the ties between the content and brand aren’t as on the nose in this second execution as it was in transporting viewers to fashion week as above, what is clear is that TopShop is finding ways VR can engage shoppers through in-store experiences.


 

Try Before You Buy
Beyond helping retailers perfect their in-store experiences, VR is also helping brands tell their story to customers in a very different way and align their products very specifically with the environments they’re built for. As an example, North Face cleverly employed VR to position itself clearly as a progressive company which understood, and was fully at home in epic environments. Visitors to North Face stores were invited to don VR headsets and tour California’s Yosemite National Park and the Moab desert alongside climbing celebrities or try winter gear in a harsh arctic environment.


 

Merrell hiking boots also created an experience with VR Retail, where shoppers could virtually hike along a crumbling rocky edge. Even those who have never gone hiking will tell friends about the experience – as about 81% of those who try VR are likely to do. The interactive nature of immersive VR makes campaigns such as these far more impactful to consumers, engaging them on an emotional level and, at the same time, closely aligning purchasable products to exciting and visceral experiences which they want to share.

Build It (virtually) and They Will Come (or not, but you’ll know before you’ve built it)
Retailing is considered part art, part science and, for the science part, everything is considered. From analyzing the finest details of store layouts to perfecting lighting plans, display heights, and ambient sound, each element of a retail space is thought through and tested. VR retail technologies are being used to create virtual stores for just this purpose. These virtual replications of in-store environments are used to track user movement through stores to flag potential traffic flow issues, conduct A/B testing the effectiveness of display layouts, etc – all before anything is constructed and any heavy costs have been incurred.

Feeling the heat


 

Another VR tool in retailer’s belts is heat mapping analytics. Yulio recently launched VR heat mapping technology able to track a viewer’s gaze within 360 degree virtual environments and provide detailed analytics on what is their drawing attention. Using the technology, retailers are able to test and refine store display and signage configurations based on concise data collected from test subjects. Heat mapping technology can also be used in a similar way by brands looking to understand the level of attention their products are drawing within displays densely filled with competitors. If products are being bypassed and/or specific competitive brands are getting high levels of engagement, brands are able to evaluate factors such as product packaging, location on displays, etc.  

 

 

As more brand marketers discover the power of VR, watch for virtual experiences at retailers this holiday season – it may have been used to build the store you’re visiting, or create an experience that makes consumers want to actually visit stores, a strong driver for retailers slugging it out with online powerhouses like Amazon.


So while the store of the future may or may not be one that we visit virtually, the fact that today people aren’t slipping on a headset each time they want to buy a new pair of shoes, doesn’t mean VR isn’t being used – right now – by a retailer near you.
If you’re wondering how you can create a VR experience for your brand, check out our free accounts at Yulio, or do some more research with our state of VR presentation.
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Architecture, Business, Design, How to, Technical, VR, Your Business + Virtual Reality

In previous posts, we’ve looked at how and why VR in business is far more advanced than use by consumers. Not to say that consumers aren’t taking to it – Nielsen surveyed 8,000 of them last year and found nearly a quarter wanted to either use or purchase a VR headset this year. But the cost of investing in top-end VR technology to entertain yourself at home is still enough to make even the most impulsive of impulse buyers give it some serious thought. Businesses, on the other hand, have a unique new tool at their disposal in fast VR – one that comes with unlimited applications and large numbers of potential new clients to share the costs between. From education to retail, to tourism to charity, organizations across numerous industries are creating tailored VR applications that deliver very specific customer experiences. From virtual try-before-you-buy in retail to virtual travel-before-you-fly in tourism, VR is now being adapted in all kinds of creative ways to sell, to educate, to market and to inspire and very few applications require strapping people into cumbersome hardware that’s tethered to a humming mother ship.

Driving benefit and advantage through VR in business doesn’t have to require significant investment, steep learning curves and complex hardware. In fact, VR can be at its most dynamic and profitable for businesses when left agile, untethered and adaptable. In short, when it’s FAST VR.

So what is ‘FAST VR’?
FAST VR is a principle, a habit, a way of bringing virtual reality into business situations and workflows at precise moments when it can do what it does best – quickly communicate the complex.

FAST VR in A&D
Yulio has worked with educators and practitioners of A&D for several years now – enough time to have seen the best (and the worst) VR has to offer and to have made our bets on the value of FAST VR. Here are a few tips on how to get started and how to make FAST VR deliver: 

TIP 1 – Don’t Wait
It’s not too late to be early – but it is time to start. VR is having its time in the sun and because of that, developers from across the world (including Yulio’s) are consistently advancing the technology. Don’t wait for perfect VR or the next evolution to land. Start to experiment right now. VR doesn’t need to replace tools already being used successfully but can integrate with the majority of them with surprising simplicity.
 
TIP 2 – Keep it Simple
Trust us, you don’t need high-end, immersive VR equipment. It’s expensive and, commonly, highly impractical. While ultra HD visuals might ‘wow’ a client during a kick-off visit to the office, chances are they won’t want to visit for every iteration of a design. Anecdotally we hear about 80% of presentations are off-site and transporting and setting up immersive rigs for each presentation is a non-starter. Using mobile devices and simple headsets to deliver VR experiences means presentations are always at your fingertips and costs are minimized.


 

TIP 3 – Renders Don’t Have to be Perfect
A designer wanting to communicate an idea quickly doesn’t obsess about making their pencil sketch perfect and it should be the same with VR. All renders should be useful but only very few need to be beautiful. Confirming feasibility of a design or a scheme by doing a simple black and white proof of concept with the correct dimensions can save countless hours, dollars and chances of future issues. Use FAST VR to pop in and out of a draft design, check the validity of an idea and get buy-in from a client. The alternative can be having to field conversations on carpet selection and lighting choices before the floorplan is set.  

 

 

 TIP 4 – No Need to Dwell
VR can just be a tool, it doesn’t need to be an experience. Don’t expect clients to spend hours strapped to a headset taking in every element of a design. FAST VR isn’t about convincing someone they’re in a building, it’s about enabling them to experience a spatial environment in a way that they’re better equipped to understand. One of our clients, Diamond Schmitt Architects, have said that their client’s understanding of scale and space improved dramatically after a Yulio fast VR presentation. And DSAI had originally intended to use VR as an internal tool but were so happy with the outcome, they gave it to their clients for reviews and checks. They found the engagement increased dramatically.

 TIP 5 – Fast Forward to the Future
Design processes don’t need to follow the familiar, ‘draw – model – present – iterate – draw – model – present …’ cycle. A growing number of our clients are no longer providing updated drawings and models during the iteration process but instead, being asked by their clients to simply update the VRE in order to move more quickly to a project’s sign off. VR lets designers also find the medium lets them predict the future. On a recent project with heavy VR usage, Andrew Chung of Diamond Schmitt told us:



 TIP 6 – Show the Team
Not every designer will be able to appreciate how an eventual building will be physically constructed.  Using VR to allow every member of a construction team to view how the finished project should look ensures the vision is shared by those who will be hands-on and that any major issues can be highlighted before a single wall has been erected.


Implementing VR into A&D practice doesn’t need to be expensive, time-consuming or, indeed, perfect. With FAST VR, it can simply be a really useful tool – albeit one that makes clients go ‘wow’. To get started with your own designs within minutes, try a free Yulio account or learn more about implementing fast, effective VR with our white paper, all about questions to ask your VR partner.
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Business, How to, Technical, VR, Your Business + Virtual Reality
VR has created a substantial array of new opportunities for those in A&D as seeing spaces virtually has become an increasingly key component of creating winning work. But like any story, it may fall flat without the right presentation. VR may lend itself to getting caught up in the technology, but a strong VR presentation is critical to storytelling success. VR may be used by architects to jump into the heart of a new development mid-way through design to view sight lines or by an interior designer to virtually experience how combinations of finishes work together before turning them into the real thing. But, beyond the creatives themselves, what are the best ways sales team can deliver that stone cold killer VR presentation? It happens that we’ve done some testing on this. Did I say ‘some’? I mean a LOT. We’ve done a lot of testing – over 1000 hours – and so we’ve got some great tips. Let’s start with the basics of the best VR presentation possible.

Our top Tips for VR Presentation:
 Back it up
A wise grandparent at some point, somewhere, will have said ‘Take care of the simple and the complicated will take care of itself.’ Backups are simple and making sure VR experiences are properly loaded on a phone should be the first box ticked every time. If WIFI conditions are unknown and/or there’s any potential for weak cell reception, VREs will need to be downloaded beforehand so that everything during a VR presentation can be done offline. Ensure your VR software partner has an offline method to help showcase your work. In our experience, this frequently comes into play at trade shows  – convention hall wifi is notoriously spotty, so we always have an offline backup of our showcase when we’re sharing VR experiences. If the presenter is using their own phone, make sure rings, sirens and alerts are all silenced. That way immersed viewers, awestruck by the majesty of a modern-day Sistine Chapel won’t be ripped from their moment by the latest score in the Giant’s game.



 
Share it

When presenting to groups, whether they’re together in a single room or dialing in from remote corners of the globe, it’s important that each one can take part in the experience. This may take some planning ahead. If there aren’t multiple goggles for every person in a room, or those joining remotely don’t have access to them, VREs can be shared easily via a web link so they can be viewed on a desktop or mobile in a ‘fishtank’ mode. While this doesn’t offer an immersive experience, it will allow each member to follow the presentation and navigate through the VR experience.




Link it
We recommend presenters use a fishtank mode on their laptop or tablet to demonstrate VR designs and if there’s a larger central screen that can be connected to, that’s even better. Even if everyone has access to headsets, they may not necessarily want to use them throughout and having designs on a central screen during larger, in-person, meetings enables the presenter to navigate quickly around environments and for everyone to follow and stay engaged.




Annotate it
For presentations that aren’t taking place in person or are being sent in advance, embedding recorded audio or video notes inside a VR experience can be the next best thing to sitting side by side. VR is an immersive medium and the impact of that can be very easily disrupted if viewers are needing to flip back and forth between the design and accompanying notes to fully understand particular elements. It is also not a medium that lends itself well to having large blocks of floating explainer text within the experience. This can be really distracting and take away from the visual flow. Audio or video files can be recorded and added strategically to any areas of a VR design that would benefit from the further explanation or description – think elaboration on why particular finishes were chosen or how adjustments have been made based on previous client comments. Triggered by a viewer’s gaze, audio and visual notes allow people to stay immersed in the experience while getting a designer’s direction and insight. For more detail on using audio and video in VR, check our previous blog post on the subject.




Guide it
While VR does allow viewers to experience environments in their own way, as a presenter it’s also essential to lead the direction and ensure those being presented to are clearly following. Using VR technology, such as ours, that’s been developed with a Presenter Mode means presenters can invite anyone they choose to collaborate via sharing a simple web link. By doing this, the presenter can see exactly where participants are looking, or alternatively request that they shift their gaze to the presenter’s icon. Viewing another person’s motion when using VR can trigger nausea for some, and so, with this in mind, Yulio developed a ‘Spotlight’ feature which allows the presenter to shine a virtual flashlight on a specific item or area. Doing this momentarily darkens everyone else’s view and slowly moves their gaze to the presenter’s location. Think of it as the virtual equivalent of parents of sugar-hungry kids carefully easing them from the candy aisle of a grocery store to the fruit aisle (NOTE – in some real-life cases we realize the draw of candy is just too strong and parents can be rendered powerless.)




Hand it Off
One very interesting thing we found during our user testing was the level of discomfort people, especially technophobes, feel if they don’t understand how to properly navigate VR, or if they feel they’ll look foolish when in a headset – their hair being put out of place, etc – or if they think they may feel sick. Each of these concerns is only heightened when in a boardroom full of colleagues and therefore, how a presenter is able to hand off to a viewer is important. Presenters should be re-assuring and take away the notion of wanting to blindfold their client by offering for them to pop in and out of the experience – removing headset straps is a good option for this – and instructing them clearly on how to navigate the design. Avoiding peripheral hardware such as handheld controllers or joysticks can ensure minimal instructions are needed and a simple navigation process such as Yulio’s gaze-to-go control, should enable clients to relax and enjoy the experience.


 

For more of our tips, sign up today for our Business Ready VR course – it’s a free 5-day program of videos and other assets to make you an expert in 10 minutes a day. Or, if you’re ready to start presenting your designs in VR, grab a free account.
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Architecture, Business, Design, Technical, VR, Your Business + Virtual Reality

We recently looked at the impact VR marketing is having, and ways that the technology is offering prospective customers the ability to experience products, services, or even causes in a very different and more emotive way than was previously possible. One of VR’s most unique features is its ability to allow people to experience something which is:

  • a long way from them
  • too complex or expensive to easily replicate in real life

Nowhere does VR shine with this more than in the communication of spaces. Unlike viewing locations on an image, a website or a TV screen, the immersive nature of VR means that places can be experienced versus simply being seen. Not only does this mean each fine detail can be communicated successfully to a prospective client but, virtual experiences also trigger responses from different parts of the brain – those which control higher-level thinking, emotion, motivation and primitive instincts – and these are especially relevant for marketers looking to provoke visceral responses to whatever they’re selling.  VR marketing brings true try-before-you-buy to spaces and opens up the world of potential customers.

 

Placing People Directly in the Action
The potential of VR to be a proxy for real travel is something many consumers are excited about. For many people, one of the most compelling uses of VR remains to allow them to see the world and experience locations and environments they would never otherwise have access to. For anyone with limited resources, mobility issues, or crippling fears of flying, VR is able to unlock a world of vivid and educational experiences from the farthest reaches of the earth. Apps such as YouVisit allow users to experience exotic locations across the globe in immersive virtual reality, while Discovery VR from Discovery Networks offers users the chance to virtually swim with sharks, surf majestic reefs or get close to endangered animals. Within professional sports, the use of VR marketing to bring viewers closer to the action is seeing significant growth. This year soccer’s Champions League Final was made accessible to viewers via VR allowing them to watch the game all-but live from various enviable pitchside locations. Fox Sports also announced earlier in the year that it would be showing Super Bowl highlights in near-real time via VR allowing sports fans to view replays of the best moments of the game from numerous different angles right after they happened on the field.


 

But let’s bring this concept of VR becoming a window into what would otherwise be impossible to see back to business and ROI. The experiential possibilities being showcased in travel and sports have real applications for business. VR marketing for spaces can be used to take people to places for the sheer experience of being there but it can also help people to make more informed buying decisions and expand the reach of potential customers.

 

Virtual Real Estate
There is immense power in allowing new home buyers to experience unbuilt properties and full developments as if they were real or alternatively, to tour remote properties using just a headset. For those in real-estate, VR marketing allows for listed properties to be experienced by prospective clients from anywhere in the world. In the case of Sotheby’s LA, prime properties are being viewed by those that want to tour multiple houses without spending multiple hours in gridlocked Los Angeles traffic. And agents of high-end international properties suddenly have the whole world as prospects, vs. just those in their office catchment area. Agents can showcase engaging VR tours on their websites and drive leads from anywhere, with clients who have seen the property and are certain they want to engage.


 

Beyond those looking to buy, for people looking to engage in long or short term rentals, being able to tour numerous properties simply by putting on a headset can dramatically change the experience. This is both for renters who can get a sense of how each property feels when inside it and owners who can pre-qualify interest before having renters visit in person. This can be particularly effective for properties listed on short-term rental sites such as Airbnb which experience high numbers of visitors. Via VR, travelers can experience every detail of a property before they commit to renting and owners can aggregate the cost of capturing the 360-degree footage over marketing to numerous potential customers.

 

Showing Off the View with VR marketing
Beyond the world of real-estate, there is an increasing number of smart ways VR marketing is being used to transport people to locations and environments to experience them in context and enable them to make more informed decisions on expensive purchases. Various sports teams have introduced virtual reality experiences that place fans in prospective season ticket seats at venues and take in very specific vantage points. The Sacramento Kings allow fans to experience the view from courtside seats via VR before buying and, at approximately $2000 per game per seat, in the words of Kings’ president Chris Granger, “It gives people a great sense of comfort as to what they can expect. It makes the investment safe and easy for fans.” The same logic can be applied to corporate boxes, premium lounge access at airports and much more. B2B sponsorship dollars that have an element of luxury space, or offer an impressive experience for their end clients can be better sold with VR marketing than with brochures and other images. It’s true try before you buy marketing.


 

Small Business VR marketing
But you don’t have to have a stadium or be selling an elaborate Italian villa to take advantage of VR marketing for spaces. If you have any kind of business that involves enticing people to see inside your space, VR marketing is for you. Venue businesses, like resorts or hotels, but also manufacturers of wedding tents and event rentals are dealing with clients very eager to understand not just the physical space they are buying, but the feeling it can evoke. They can tell their stories more easily and more immersively in VR than any other visual medium. Other potential wins are tradeshow and event marketers, who can show off the show floor in VR, and potentially upsell booth space. Or tour operators showing off places of interest and accommodations.


 

While virtual viewings cannot fully replicate standing in the real thing, for wedding venues, music venues, photography studios, film locations, and numerous other high-value spaces, being able to communicate specifics of size, style and layouts and put prospective clients directly within a space via VR is a powerful first step towards winning them over and ensuring a space is exactly what they’re looking for.  


There’s no doubt that the ability to immerse people directly in any space, experience or environment using virtual reality has handed marketers an entirely new toolkit to get creative with. Whether locations are showcased using VR to demonstrate their most unique and compelling qualities for potential customers or environments being broadcast in VR are the experience themselves, there’s no doubt that the technology is set to play an ever-growing role in how we view and evaluate the spaces which we choose to live, work and play in. To learn more about implementing VR in your practice, download our whitepaper, or try it out with a free account.
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Business, Design, How to, News and Updates, Technical, VR, Your Business + Virtual Reality
For over 30 years, award-winning design studio, Graven, has been helping to build some of the world’s biggest brands. Over the last 12 months, they’ve been using ‘Small VR’ (low-cost mobile-based VR with simple viewers such as Google Cardboard, etc) to help them do it better than ever. We talked with Company Director Ross Hunter (RH) and BIM Coordinator Stephen Thomas (ST) about the Company’s move into virtual reality and the impact they’ve seen from the integration of Small VR in key areas of their design and build processes.

How did you first come across VR?
ST –  It was through some work we did with another firm (Soluis) which had invested in very high-end visualization technology (Oculus), that we saw the potential of how immersive visualization could help the communication of design. What we were specifically looking for at Graven was a way to work more closely with our clients and give them the advantages of working in three dimensions. We wanted something with a very low barrier to entry, something that we could integrate into our everyday conversations with clients and that would help inform the design process. That’s when we started to talk about small VR. Having our designers working and thinking about designing in 3D is different than the processes we were using before. Once we started using BIM and then VR, it made total sense to keep everything in that 3D environment and use that to structure our thinking internally as well as our conversations with clients.  

How is Small VR actually used at Graven?
RH – We now use VR within several stages of a project from sharing and collaborating on ideas in-house to presenting ideas to clients and also for clarifying with contractors exactly what they need to build.


 

 

 

Using headsets works really well when people are remote and can experience a design from wherever they are. During larger, in-person meetings, we tend to put VR designs onto an iPad or on a big screen. That enables us to navigate quickly around environments and for everyone to view the same thing. It doesn’t rely on having 10 people sitting together with goggles up to their faces which might be a little weird. It’s also been of huge benefit to contractors as they can understand exactly what they’re building without the need to take entire teams through hundreds of drawings. We’re not just giving them technical specifications but showing them the intent, what the finished product is meant to look like. They can ask us questions and clarify anything they need to and there’s far less opportunity for confusion down the line.

Have you seen an ROI from your use of VR?
RH – It can be hard just trying to keep a track of how much time we spend on each project so finding clear metrics around ROI is difficult. Anecdotally, there are many benefits. We tend to get hurt most often on the back end of a project, past the design and development stage into the technical design stage. Even when you’ve done your utmost to ensure everything is signed off and clients are happy, with the best will in the world, it doesn’t always happen like that. The further down the line a change needs to happen, the more expensive that is.

ST – People find it very hard to understand drawings and everybody’s been in situations where they walk into a building once it’s finished and it doesn’t look like they imagined – the ceiling’s a little lower than they thought, the view is slightly different. VR helps prove sight lines and a sequence of spaces. It’s absolutely the best way to do it. It cuts down on bad communication and gives clients a greater opportunity to understand the impact of a design proposal. Everyone wants to know what it’s going to look like from where they sit and being able to offer them that at an early stage through VR is incredibly useful. With less changes needed on the back end, the overall time spent is reduced and we can spend more time on the ‘clever stuff’. We see VR actually making architects better value by the fact that they can spend more time on areas that add value to a client rather than on low-value stuff like going back to fix issues late in the process.  

Did you look into BIG VR as an option for Graven?
RH – We didn’t. Firms that have invested heavily in visualization tech can obviously support the creation of full, immersive environments at a very high level. For us, that’s not sensible. Graven offers its clients a great deal of expertise in the front end i.e. design and development, strategic direction, etc. What we, therefore, need most are tools that help us excel in those first few, key stages of the process. Small VR is certainly what supports us best in that mission.

Is VR changing the way your designers work?
RH – It certainly helps us get the best out of the minds of our creative teams and allows this to be clearly fed into the minds of our clients. In terms of conceptualizing a new environment in three dimensions, good designers will already be doing this. What VR does is it helps them get it out of their head and effectively communicate it to the person who’s going to pay for it or going to build it.

What has been the client response to VR? Is it a differentiator for the firm?
RH – What was surprising was that when we started to hand clients a simple Google cardboard viewer and ask them to look at even a basic visualization in three dimensions, it had a massive impact. People are amazed and it’s surprising that more people aren’t doing it. For us, it’s very quickly become a key part of our process. Within our company culture, we expect our designers to think of this just like they would taking a pencil out and drawing a sketch. It’s fully integrated, not an add-on or something we only bring in at the end. It’s not a marketing or sales gimmick either. It doesn’t cost us anything extra to build that into our process. It doesn’t cost the client anything extra to have a 3D VR model created. It’s incredibly simple and that’s why we like it so much. I think there’s going to be a big change in the next couple of years and ultimately everyone will work like this. It’s a game changer.


Try Small VR Yourself:
Special thanks to Graven images for chatting with Yulio this week. Check out their legendary designs at https://graven.co.uk/. We love sharing ideas about how to translate design vision into VR, bringing greater understanding to clients. Trying small VR for your firm can bring you ROI and improve your image as a technology leader. And you can have your first VR designs in minutes. Sign up for your free Yulio account today and discover how transformative and practical small VR can be.
0

Business, Design, Technical, VR

In our many conversations with architects, designers, and real estate teams, we hear over and over again that many people (they estimate about 80%) aren’t very good at mentally translating design to real space. That inability leads to people being hesitant to sign off on design and to ask the professionals the same questions over and over again. All due to lack of confidence in visual translation. That lack of confidence has real consequences. Choosing to buy a new sweater online without trying it on can be fraught with disappointment. When it comes to imagining a proposed home renovation, the stakes are much higher. Making decisions around the spaces that we will live and work in have high stakes financially and emotionally,  and the inability to properly visualize a finished project can either paralyze a design process or worse, lead to disappointment when a project’s finished. It’s in situations like this that virtual reality significantly impacts people’s ability to translate and make decisions, as it has the power to immediately turn ‘the proposed’ into something that can be experienced as if it is real, removing the ambiguity of translation. But as we watch more and more A&D firms use the power of VR interior design to create a shared vision, we’ve seen some patterns in the things VR most clearly helps clients decide.

Seeing is … Understanding
A home renovation requires clients to mentally pull together space, functional elements in a room and colors and finishes, typically from drawings and swatches. VR’s immersive quality puts all these elements in one image. We recently created bathroom finish configurator which enabled a bathroom design to be viewed in VR and the multiple finishes, including tiles, wall colors, flooring, etc, to be changed at will to different combinations. Pulling all these elements into a VR interior design lets a client be immersed in design instead of holding up swatches against walls and squinting at them. What was particularly interesting to us when creating the initial VR interior design was that, while each combination looked great when we viewed them on our browser mode, fishtank VR, it was only when we ‘put them in a headset’ and viewed them in immersive VR that we saw the specific confines of the space and how particular combinations of finishes either improved or took away from the look and feel of the environment. Being inside the space gave a very different and incredibly useful perspective, and really made viewers appreciate the confines of design and the efficient ways the designer had used the space.



 

 

    Student Survey data from those using VR Interior Design  

 

In our office, we’re constantly talking about how important it is to put something in a headset. At Facebook, they say “put it on your face” but we all mean the same thing – you will see things in VR you just won’t in any other medium.

Putting it in a headset
While putting designs in a headset can help viewers see areas they wouldn’t be able to appreciate in the same way using other mediums, it also helps designers to design ‘in full’. Yulio recently ran a competition with young architects to design a new environment in VR and a few submissions came in without showing any floor or ceiling. These areas can often be overlooked as designers first move to VR. They are used to set a viewpoint into a vision and need to re-think VR interior design which gives the viewer greater power – and to look around a completed space. We recently carried out a survey with architecture students at Toronto’s Ryerson University who have become familiar with using Yulio’s VR technology after it was implemented as a key component of their educational program in 2016.  Flooring and ceiling finishes have a major effect on the light and shadow of a room and the vast majority of students felt that using VR has led to them having far more sensitivity to these elements of their designs, along with the sense of the scale of the space, and greater sensitivity to the materials used.


 

Having the ‘whole picture’ perspective through putting designs in a headset was felt to help them make decisions on which floor and ceiling treatments worked best within spaces they were creating.

Deciding to Buy
It’s not only within design where VR is helping people take the abstract and enable them to experience it as it would be in the real world. Within retail, VR can be used to help consumers see products outside of showrooms and removed from shelves and placed within curated environments that show them in action. Lowes has been using the VR interior design concept with their Holloroom that lets customers create an environment complete with all finishes and colors to experience it themselves.


 

While a virtual experience will never fully replace visceral ones, what VR is able to do is allow potential buyers of products, experiences, and design to get a truer sense of what they are purchasing. In all cases, it provides an immersive presentation that goes far beyond any printed brochure or 2D drawing To begin using the power of Yulio for VR interior design, sign up for a free account today, or learn more about how to implement VR into your practice with our whitepaper.
0

Business, Design, How to, Technical, Video, VR, Your Business + Virtual Reality
We talk a lot about VR allowing people to experience environments or realities that don’t yet exist. But with 360 photos for VR, virtual reality becomes more like a modern-day equivalent of Star Trek’s Scotty. Using the latest 360° cameras, VR can be used to ‘beam’ a viewer right into the heart of an existing location, in a fully immersive image.


 

There are several smart commercial applications for using photography visuals through VR, but before getting into the best of these, we’ll take a look at a few things to consider when capturing 360° photos for VR.

Camera basics
While we won’t get into naming names and choosing hardware favorites in this post, suffice to say, a great 360° camera will do exactly what its name suggests, offer 360 degrees of capture ideally with no need for additional image processing or manipulation to stitch footage together. Camera prices range from about $200 to thousands, but you should know there’s usually a pretty direct correlation between price and resolution. The higher the cost, the greater the resolution. But there’s another significant difference – some cameras shoot stereoscopic images, while many cheaper ones are monoscopic. Stereoscopic cameras: will typically be more expensive and less common. They essentially shoot a 3D rendering of your image for the left and right eye – and this is what amps up the VR effect in a VR headset.

 

Monoscopic cameras: are much more common. They create flat 360 degree images that can be viewed on a screen or in a VR headset, but they have more limited immersiveness and change the degree of depth perception. These are the images you’ll see on a YouTube 360 player.


 

Monoscopic cameras are sufficient for images being viewed mostly without a headset, and certainly for beginners. If you plan to use images often on your website, to promote your business or show off your design work, it’s worth investing in a camera where the software does all the heavy lifting to produce a fully spherical image and also make the process of editing and sharing captured footage quick and painless.

Positioning
The best position for the camera in any scene corresponds directly to where you would stand if you wanted to get the best view. Position the camera in the center of a scene so there is plenty to look at in every direction. Set it to the height of an average person (typically 5’7” in North America) so people don’t feel like they’re either floating or have come to the scene without their legs. Remember that 360° cameras capture everything, including adjustable arms on a tripod if they stick out too far. Popular alternatives to tripods for 360° shooting are light stands, as they have small fixture points and no levers to reach into the shot. You also need to ensure you personally don’t feature in any footage being captured, if you don’t want to be seen. Fortunately, most 360° cameras come with the ability to activate them remotely via a mobile app enabling you to find a good spot to disappear.

Some key use cases for 360 Photos for VR:
Remote viewing
The ability to immerse viewers in existing environments via VR is particularly effective where distance is an issue. For overseas real estate investors, the ability to remotely tour potential new property purchases is pretty powerful. Photo VR lets them experience actual room layouts, style, and specifications without going on lengthy and expensive long-distance trips. We contributed to an interesting piece for South China Morning Post on how this growing phenomenon is changing the overseas property buying market in China.

Portfolio demonstrations
By creating VR experiences from 2D designs, virtual reality has dramatically changed how the allure of an unbuilt property can be communicated to a potential buyer. In the same way, capturing 360° imagery of completed projects and allowing potential new clients to view these via VR is a great way to communicate your work. With entire virtual portfolios able to be held on a mobile device, having a lightweight viewer such as a Homido on hand means these types of immersive virtual presentations can also be done anywhere and at any time.  

Comparing Current to Future
Using a combination of 360° imagery and computer rendered designs, those in commercial real estate are now able to demonstrate the current and future look of commercial dwellings in parallel. Using 360 photos for VR, potential tenants or commercial buyers can remotely view properties in their current form. Combine this with a traditional CAD rendering of what could be, or a 360 photo of a similar completed space to help visually transform the space.  



Beyond these few, there are numerous other use cases where 360° imagery used within VR is offering marketers, educators and sales teams unique ways of engaging and informing audiences. From virtual retail stores to virtual training and virtual tourism, the ability to immerse people in real environments that are either too remote, sensitive or dangerous to be easily experienced in person, is having a growing impact on businesses … and it’s only just getting started. Already have a 360 camera? You can upload your shot to a free yulio account and see how it translates to VR at any time. Check out our no strings attached, free account option and you can have your first VR experience running in minutes.
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Business, Design, Technical, Video, VR, Your Business + Virtual Reality

VR has a – rightly deserved – reputation for causing some users to experience nausea. It is even the namesake of a new form of “motion” sickness – VR sickness. The experience is one a lot like sea or car sickness; cold sweats, clammy hands, headaches and, for some, a quick ‘reach for the trash can’. There are various theories about what part of the eye/brain/motion mismatch causes VR sickness and we’ll look at that in this post. But no matter the cause, you should be aware of how nausea (or the fear of it) may impact your clients’ willingness to don a headset when you share VR experiences. And how to solve the issue.  

So what is actually happening?
Virtual reality-induced nausea didn’t enter the fray with the first Oculus Rift. It’s been around since the first astronauts, airline pilots and test drivers began honing their skills in virtual environments. In fact, it used to be called ‘simulator sickness’. It’s caused by a sensory mismatch between the vestibular (the balancing system in your inner ear), the visual (what you are seeing) and/or the kinesthetic (your physical movement).

the vestibular system affect on vr sickness


During a VR experience, a user’s eyes might be transmitting signals to the brain that it’s test driving a new Audi on the Nurburgring. But signals from the inner ear are recording no matching movement and this sensory conflict can trigger illness. According to some experts, this impulse to be sick is brought on by a self-preservation reflex. Mismatched sensory signals make the brain think a poison has been ingested by the body and it acts to get it out. But that’s just a theory. VR-related nausea won’t affect everyone. Based on those who experience motion sickness on boats, planes or in cars, estimates say it will affect around 25% of people. Women are also said to suffer more than men with motion sickness in general. Factors for this include postural sway, whereby women’s smaller bodies may mean they sway more when standing or sitting still, and women typically have a heightened sense of detection when it comes to sensory conflicts.  

How to combat VR Sickness
Anecdotally, regular VR users say they acclimatize quickly and symptoms subside naturally. That’s certainly true in our office, where the team members who have been working with VR for years are surprised when newbies mention VR sickness concerns. But that won’t help your client in their first VR experience. Technology can be part of the solution. To reduce the subtle latencies between what is being seen and what movement is being physically experienced, headsets from companies such as Oculus, HTC, and PlayStation VR all now work with refresh rates of 90 frames per second. This ensures minimal lag and cuts down on numbers experiencing negative symptoms. Mobile headsets like Samsung’s Gear VR or Google Cardboard use smartphones to project the images, so the graphics aren’t as sophisticated as tethered experiences. However, since mobile VR tracks only head movement and not full body motion, the effects of VR motion sickness are typically less. The incongruity between what’s been seen and experienced physically is smaller, which reduces the risk.

Getting around the VR motion sickness problem played a part in our decision to concentrate first on mobile as a method of delivering VR for business applications. The flexibility of mobile lends means it can be used in any setting, including places your viewers feel comfortable. And at Yulio we remove the straps from all of our headsets to enable ‘popping in and out’ of experiences. Communicating new architectural or interior designs doesn’t require prolonged periods of full immersion. In our experience, allowing viewers to immerse themselves in a design as they choose but then easily ‘pop out’, reorienting themselves, leads to drastic reductions in cases of nausea and ensures the experience is both comfortable and effective. When business users can raise the headset to view a window on your designs but know they can immediately remove it if needed, it helps resolve concerns about feeling ill and trapped.



strapless headsets can reduce vr sickness for business meeting users


With many different subtle factors leading to people experiencing vr motion sickness, there’s no one miracle cure. A quickly growing base of both entertainment and enterprise users, have meant, however, that technologies used to create, record and view virtual reality content are all being steadily improved with the issue squarely in mind.   Thinking about a headset for your business? Check out our guide to headsets, view a VR experience with the designs in our showcase or create your own in minutes with a free Yulio account.
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Business, How to, Technical, VR, Your Business + Virtual Reality
Virtual reality in any format, be it full tethered rig VR (like Oculus Rift)  or mobile VR headsets (such as Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear VR), has a few key jobs it can perform for your business: sharing your vision, accelerating your sales pipeline, adding new lead generation channels or helping your clients make better, quicker decisions.   If you’re ready to bring virtual reality to your business, your success will depend on a few key things:  

Great Execution  
Whether the idea for implementing VR is to communicate complex interior designs to remote clients, allow shoppers to browse stylized virtual showrooms or immerse potential donors in environments they’re being asked to contribute to, if the execution is clunky or ill-considered, it can do more harm than good.   There are ways to design specifically with VR in mind that can take an experience beyond being a novelty and make it an integral part of how a business operates. We recently offered some great tips on designing for VR which you can read here.  


For now, however, we’re going to concentrate on the second element-  


Delivery and Viewing Experience  
When you think of VR, you might picture tethered VR headsets. These are the ones with cables coming out the back of the headset, where people can move around and experience space. Because of the cost and complexity of these rigs, mobile VR headsets, where you pop a smartphone in a viewing device are far more common. These track head movements and users can “move” by looking, but cannot walk around. The difference is sometimes described in degrees of freedom, where tethered creates 6-degrees-of-freedom, while mobile allows for 3-degrees-of-freedom. Put more simply, with tethered VR you can walk around a room or space. In mobile, you stand still and look around that room in 360 degrees with head motion only.    


Tethered Headsets

User inside a tethered VR headset, HTC Vive
Tethered Headset Leaders  
 HTC ViveOculus Rift
Cost$800$600 with optional sensors
ControllersHand ControllersXbox game controllers/hand controllers
Special Features15ft x 15ft VR space with corner tracking sensorsBuilt-in headphones


The tethered headset for the business category is led by VR A-listers, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive. Both devices support lateral movement and offer exceptionally high-quality visuals. They do so, however, at the expense, both figuratively and literally, of being tethered to a powerful PC by a four-meter cable. Both companies are working on standalone systems where the computer sits inside the headset, which will remove that physical attachment, to the benefit of ‘tethered’ VR’s future.
  Tethered VR requires dedicated space, and we suggest about 3m x 3m to accommodate most safe movement, but at least 2m x 2m. For Vive, you need to setup two laser tracking spots at opposite corners, which provides the 360 tracking of the users. Oculus Rift has 180-degree tracking if you don’t purchase the additional sensors.   You’ll also need sufficient computing power to run the tethered VR rigs. You’ll need a computer capable of running 90 frames of animation per second, per eye which the headsets are built around. To do so you need a strong graphics card and enough hard drive space to handle the game files. You can still run the rig with less PC power, but the images will be of lower quality, and if the graphics are lagging, you’ll probably find there’s a much higher chance of nausea.   The ‘wow factor’ associated with the higher-end headsets is genuinely amazing,  but there are drawbacks. Tethering restricts viable uses to fixed spaces. So the best executions are setups like a trade show booth, an event installation or a dedicated space in your office boardroom. There’s no question the novelty will draw a crowd at events. But we’ve seen many booths with a sick bucket tucked into a corner because being strapped into VR is more likely than mobile to cause simulator sickness. You also need a safety supervisor hanging around to wrangle cables and make sure no one trips.   With costs for an Oculus Rift device also starting at around $600 and HTC Vive starting at $800 (not including the PC required to run them which can cost around $1000), these devices do represent some significant outlay. They absolutely make a splash for a key event or tradeshow. They just don’t allow you to integrate VR into your everyday business because of the restrictions of the technology.   If your firm is serious about using and integrating VR into your practice, you should have a rig setup for testing and experimenting…and understanding what great VR experience can look like by viewing other VR software. Many of the clients we work with who are leading in VR innovation have a tethered experience as a lab in their offices and use mobile VR for practical presentations.  

Mobile VR

Mobile VR headsets in a business meeting
Mobile VR Headset Leaders
 Samsung Gear VRGoogle CardboardGoogle Daydream
Cost$100$15$80
ControllersHeadset trackpadHeadset buttonMotion hand controller
Special FeaturesOculus StoreBrandableDaydream App store


With the ubiquity of smartphones, mobile-powered VR offers a different level of flexibility when it comes to implementing a VR component to a business. Headsets which rely on a mobile device to power the experience range from Samsung Gear and Noon which offer a fully immersive experience, and cost around $120, through to functional, inexpensive devices such as Google Cardboard or Homido Mini which cost around $15.   At this point, it’s absolutely true that mobile VR isn’t able to match the level of immersion in visuals and movement that a tethered headset allows. But for the vast majority of business use cases, it is more than adequate. Rather than supporting lateral movement, mobile VR primarily tracks head motion from a fixed point in a virtual environment and utilizes techniques to approximate movement such as ‘gaze-to-go’ points or links which transport viewers to alternate vantage points in a scene or to different locations.   There are plenty of advantages to mobile VR which make it practical for business use. Obviously, it’s literally mobile – you can take it anywhere. Which means you can conduct VR presentations at your client’s office, or take your VR portfolio anywhere. It also breaks down barriers viewers may feel about trying VR, as it’s less cumbersome and isolating. While users have to be strapped into tethered VR headsets, devices like Cardboard and Homido are designed like a window into a world. Hold them up, look in, and remove it. It allows for a more social experience, popping in and out of the headset. At Yulio we remove the straps from our higher-end headsets too so we can keep this sense of being able to remove the headset any time.   The 3 billion+ smartphones in the world also mean you can send VR experiences almost anywhere, along with a cheaper headset and your clients will be able to view them.   Additional costs for fully integrating mobile VR could include a pool of dedicated smartphones, so that incoming calls and messages don’t interrupt the experience. While this could add up quickly, there’s also an opportunity to buy some used phones for this purpose from classified ad websites.  



At Yulio we’ve made our bets on mobile VR for its flexibility, portability and greater comfort of use and training…while still being able to immerse people in a totally new environment, quickly, easily, and wherever they are.   Whether it be used to deliver A&D portfolio presentations, ‘Try before you buy’ product demos, virtual property tours or to put potential donors directly ‘into’ an environment being highlighted by a non-profit, VR’s ability to engage people with emotional connection to an idea, an environment, a product or a cause is its real power. For more on integrating mobile VR into your workflow, check out our whitepaper and a recent article on sharing information through other media in VR, like audio, video, and text.
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Business, How to, Technical, VR, Your Business + Virtual Reality
Still believe VR is only for Silicon Valley gamers? You’re missing the arrival of VR for business and the very real ways that virtual reality is, right now, this minute, helping businesses to impress, engage with and increase business with their customers. Taking a few examples, we’re going to demonstrate that VR has already gone way beyond being just the guy you call when you want to go out on the weekend. It’s now just as happy suiting up and playing a key role in the boardroom.

Using VR for Business ROI comes down to three core patterns – its ability is to immerse a viewer in an environment that:
  1. Doesn’t exist yet
  2. Exists but is a long distance away  
  3. Is too large, expensive or complex to model.

 This unique dynamic means more use cases are surfacing every day that are enabling organizations to demonstrate their products, services – or their missions – via an experience over an explanation.



Selling Sizzle When There’s Not Yet Steak
Decisions involving property are often among the hardest people ever make. How and where we live and its relationship to where we work, play and shop are very personal ones. Most of us want where we live to be an extension of who we are, and we want a property that helps us achieve an ideal lifestyle. Appreciating the appeal of communities not yet built brings another layer of difficulty and therefore, making the, as yet, unreal, ‘real’ for potential buyers is becoming a very powerful tool for those in construction and real estate. And since, for most individuals, a home is the single largest investment they will ever make, people need to have a level of comfort and certainty that is pretty difficult to achieve when they can’t experience the home and its surrounding amenities. In a recent collaboration with a Toronto-based design firm, Norm Li, we helped bring to life an entirely new future Saskatoon community through the creation of a series of immersive VR experiences. Dream’s Brighton Community includes several thousand homes, retail spaces, and surrounding parks, and is on a scale that simply can not be modeled out. Using VR kiosks in its sales center, Dream was able to immerse visitors in the new environments the new development would offer and helped people experience it, picturing their lifestyle while forging an emotional connection to the new community. The kiosks provided a window into what was possible in a personal way for each potential buyer. “They wanted people to feel like they were already living there,” said Christophe Chevallier, art director for the Toronto-based company Norm Li, who helped create the virtual reality world of Brighton.

Potential buyers using vr headsets to view new communities  


Setting Virtual Stages
Using VR to either ‘white wall’ or show potential interior layouts and styles for commercial real estate rentals is another VR application that’s been successfully demonstrated by our client, Dream, in collaboration with Mayhew, an office design firm. Until recently, common approaches to successfully leasing commercial properties would involve either physically stripping out all existing walls and furniture and creating a white-walled, blank canvas for the next renter or, alternatively, installing rented staging furniture to mock up a possible look and feel. Being able to show rental space virtually, stripping out unwanted elements and manipulating environments quickly and easily to suit a renter’s specific choices – without any need for actual physical alterations and therefore at almost no cost – is a great VR use case. Dream invited realtors to a blank warehouse space, and created a VR kiosk near a set of footprints on the floor, inviting agents to “stand here”.


 

Paul Bradshaw, vice-president of sales for Mayhew, a Richmond Hill-based office interior design firm, uses Yulio in working with realtors, and is an enthusiastic proponent of VR.“We work closely with realtors to customize interior spaces and this allows us to show how the space could perform for their customers,” Bradshaw says. “The infrastructure cost is minimal and it’s readily accessible to everyone.”

two realtors hold up VR for business viewers in an empty warehouse space


Not Business as Usual
Retail’s seen its fair share of tech-fuelled disruption over the past few years and VR is certainly playing its part in that now. ‘Experiential commerce’ might not be a known term (as we just made it up) but home improvement and home decor retailers such as Ikea and Lowes are already demonstrating their products using VR. Imagine being able to ‘virtually’ stand in a new bathroom or kitchen and change every aspect, colours, tiles, fixtures, etc, on-the-fly, to find the most perfect combination. Yep – you can do that. And sales centers need not have every permutation or sample available. VR renders can do all that and let customers feel more in control of the experience…and speed up their decision making.


 

  This same concept is something Audi has been experimenting with, letting customers “sit” in a virtual car to see different configurations of options before purchase.

The Empathy Machine
When you can’t bring people to the field, you bring the field to them. In the absence of giving people a real-life experience, VR can often deliver the nearest possible alternative. For charities, putting people directly within an environment or situation they’re looking to bring change to, can provoke the type of immediate emotional connection they need to engage new supporters. The profound effect that can be had by putting a person in a hospital wing or new school they are being asked to fund, has led to VR being dubbed by many in the field, ‘the empathy machine’ and meant it’s been enlisted by charities including Unicef, Amnesty International, and Charity:Water who are showing refugee reality and seeing donation rates increase dramatically.



Whether VR is enabling people to experience a new community before a single foundation’s been laid, to try out new bathroom tiles at the touch of a button, or provide a visceral glimpse into the change a new hospital brings, it’s proving itself to have gone far beyond life as a novelty and is now establishing itself as an increasingly compelling tool for creative businesses. Ready to learn more about VR for business? Check out our Whitepaper on the right way to integrate VR into your business for maximum ROI.
0

Business, How to, Technical, VR, Your Business + Virtual Reality

The IT department: idolized cyber warriors when a laptop won’t connect or a server crashes in the middle of a tight deadline, yet also the dismissive border control, unable to authorize access to any shiny new piece of technology until it’s been given the tech equivalent of a sweat-inducing strip search. The last thing you want is for your VR integration to be held up in border patrol. Rigorously maintaining network security and reliability as well as ensuring systems are scalable at the drop of a hat keeps those in IT up at night. Any new technology being introduced to a company’s mix, therefore, has a far better chance of navigating its way around a skeptical gatekeeper if these considerations have been well thought out beforehand. So you want to integrate VR into your organization? Of course, you do. Need to know how to approach the IT team and make this a quick and easy conversation? No problem. We’re a technology company and we’ve thought this through – a lot. Let’s break down the key VR integration concerns and let you know how to address them.

Security


a padlock holds a gate closed representing VR integration security


Typically IT’s top issue is security. Find out if and how a vendor partner has to integrate with your systems. Yulio is a cloud-based platform meaning users can access the technology wherever and whenever they are by logging into their account at Yulio.com. There is no deep integration with a company network and, unless users choose to download a Yulio plugin for any of the CAD tools they already use (SketchUp, Revit, etc), no Yulio code resides on any network but our own. IT will want to understand if your proposed VR solution works with the tools you use and they are supporting today, or if you are trying to replace your tools Yulio’s physical infrastructure is hosted and managed within Amazon’s secure data centers and utilizes the Amazon Web Service (AWS) technology. Amazon continually manages risk and undergoes recurring assessments to ensure compliance with industry standards. Another key element of security is the reliability of any storage – if you’re putting your intellectual property in the cloud, it needs to be there when you have to access it. So what happens to your stored designs? Are they durable? On Yulio, yes, but only for 10,000,000 years. Yulio uses Amazon’s S3 storage, which is designed to provide 99.999999999% durability of objects over a given year. 99.999999999% durability corresponds to an average annual expected loss of 0.000000001% of objects. This means, if you store 10,000 objects with Amazon S3, you can, on average, expect to incur a loss of a single object once every 10,000,000 years.  

Reliability


an orange sunset represents steadiness


There’s nothing quite as sobering as the fear-laced sweat that comes with standing in a room full of people poised to give a demonstration, only for a piece of essential software to fail. This embarrassment doesn’t deflect to the software provider, it makes the presenter look unprepared and unreliable. This is the stuff of IT department nightmares and a diligent team will, therefore, carry out an interrogation in advance so they don’t get a panicked call requesting a fix for faulty technology they can’t control if it fails in a critical moment. You’ll want to be able to speak to some key elements of reliability – What are the downtime commitments? Is there any offline backup? Do you need internet connectivity to present? Are there redundancies built into the system? Is there a disaster recovery plan? As examples of the kind of information you’ll want a partner to share, let me run down Yulio’s features. Yulio’s provider allows for recovering databases to within seconds of the last known state, restoring system instances from standard templates, and deploying applications and data.

  • Yulio’s databases are automatically backed up on secure, access controlled, and redundant storage.
  • While the collaborate feature requires internet connectivity to facilitate possibly hundreds of users viewing a design in real-time, Yulio does have an offline component meaning, VR experiences can be downloaded and stored for access when no internet connection is available.
  • Yulio’s platform maintains high levels of redundancy to prevent any single points of failure.
Yulio’s platform is designed for stability, scaling, and inherently mitigates common issues that lead to outages while maintaining recovery capabilities. In the case of an outage, the platform is deployed across multiple data centers using current system images and data is restored from backups.

Scalability


a shooting star represents infinite scale for VR integration

Although a great piece of software can seem comparable to magic, the truth is that every single element has, at some point, been considered in order to make it function every time, and in an exact way, users need it to. Scalability refers to when and where you will need to use your VR solution – does it work where you are, and where your clients are? How many viewers can it handle? Software that works brilliantly in any of these scenarios demonstrates choices the company has made about infrastructure along the way. Yulio’s platform is designed for global businesses, its cloud-based infrastructure was therefore built specifically to ensure it is able to perform at any scale, in any international territory. One of our biggest scalability tests happened in December 2016, when our Chief Product Officer was presenting Yulio at Siggraph Asia in Macau, China. While showing a Yulio VR experience, the pairing code to join a collaborative session was on screen. As he continued his talk, more than a hundred audience members joined, and a scalability trial by fire was passed both in International locales, and simultaneous user numbers. We like to believe that even if your IT department resembles a stone-faced border guard, Yulio has carefully considered the elements that would cause them concern and built a system with seamless integration in mind. Consider the key elements of security, reliability, and scalability before talking with IT  learn a little extra respect…and maybe a higher spot on the IT queue.


Ensuring that the VR integration of Yulio is as highly secure, reliable and scalable is part of our mission to make VR a practical business easily adopted by architects, designers, and retailers. Need to know more about the questions to ask a potential VR partner, in all areas of your workflow? Check out our whitepaper on full workflow integration.
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Business, Design, How to, Technical, VR, Your Business + Virtual Reality
In the early days of television, it would be fair to say there was a ‘breaking in period’. It took broadcasters some time to get to grips with the new medium. In fairness, they and their listeners were used to news, information and entertainment primarily being delivered to their ears via a radio and therefore, with little appreciation for the context of a visual medium, the earliest shows consisted of little more than a camera being pointed at a radio presenter. Similarly, VR is the new and compelling game in town with the power to entertain, to communicate and to tell visual stories in an entirely different, multi-dimensional way. Creating strong content for this new medium inherently comes with the same challenges – how to effectively use all the various tools that VR offers in the right way and at the right time, to create the most engaging and immersive experiences possible while still giving users plenty of information. Long held design habits, honed through work within multiple different formats can be tough to shake and so, based on the findings from over a thousand hours of user testing we’ve carried out, we’ve put together a few things to consider that we think will help when trying to use text, audio and video in VR without interrupting the immersion.

Show, Don’t Tell
Although, as we will touch on later, VR isn’t a visual only platform, it is visual-first. In the same way that filming a radio broadcaster doesn’t fulfill the potential of television or recording a Cirque Du Soleil show wouldn’t make for good radio, using more than minimal text with a VR experience is a distraction. Why would people want to read inside a VR experience? Beyond a few words within a menu or used as concise pointers for navigation, blocks of floating text can be disorienting and unnecessarily cover portions of a design. Not only that, the sensory conflict that can take place, when people view hovering text can cause feelings of nausea. While the desire to add a text-based commentary might understandably be to provide further detail on a specific product or to highlight a designer’s thought process, in the context of VR, there are better ways of providing a narrative which can add to an experience rather than detracting from it. Save text for good menu design, or to help users orient themselves within VR. Unity has some great examples of solid menu design, and many of them involve text that enters the space after a few seconds where the viewer can orient themselves without interruption, before seeing text in the context of what to do next, and which doesn’t block design elements


VR text displayed without interrupting the visuals of a VR game

By contrast, this menu is incongruous with the surroundings and blocks the scene.


VR room with a text menu overlaid, blocking some of the VR design  


Immersive Audio
Offering short pieces of audio commentary at strategic points within a VR experience can be a great way to share key information in a non-distracting way. We’ve recently rolled out a new Audio Hotspots feature which allows designers to add audio files of up to two minutes to specific parts of their designs. For example, the below render of an exterior at nighttime was done by one of our partner studios and they’ve embedded audio to explain some of the design decisions, as well as add some ambient sound to the scene. You can view it here: https://www.yulio.com/Vi36c3a0FB  

a nighttime backyard scene with vr audio hotspot icons

Triggered when a viewer gazes at the hotspot, these commentaries can be used to describe design choices, offer answers to questions, or provide information about products used in the design, all without interrupting the immersion of a VR experience. As an example of this in practice, an interior designer might choose to place a hotspot over an area a client had questions about on the last iteration, or where they requested changes, and call attention to exactly how they addressed their concerns. For those designers who typically present to a stakeholder who will later be sharing the design with other stakeholders, audio hotspots also let the designer maintain the control and consistency of the conversation. Beyond strategically placed commentaries, ambient background noise relevant to a visual is anecdotally believed to considerably increase the immersive quality of a VR experience. Whether it be the sound of kids playing when viewing the design of proposed new community development or office background noise within a new building design, audio is able to add an additional layer of reality into the experience.

 


Video in VR
Another way of creatively sharing information in a way that suits the immersive context of VR is through video. By adding video clips strategically within a design, triggered in the same ‘gaze-to-go’ technique as audio and navigation hotspots, creatives can offer viewers the ability to take a deeper dive into a specific element. Whether it be a retail application where viewers might gaze at a piece of furniture and view a short video clip of it being created in a workshop with specific details of the materials used, etc, or a real estate application where a new home buyer might gaze at a window in an, as yet, unbuilt home and launch a clip of the real-life surrounding area, when used creatively, video can add depth to a story being told in a way that perfectly fits the VR environment.  




To find out more about Yulio’s new audio hotspots, available immediately to all Yulio Enterprise clients, visit our knowledge base.  Or to create your custom Enterprise plan, reach us at hello@yulio.com.
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Business, Design, Technical, VR, Your Business + Virtual Reality

Today, Yulio is bringing audio annotation to our VR hotspots technology. Hotspots are the Yulio method of linking scenes in your VR designs and have always been part of our simple gaze to go navigation. Starting today, customers on our Enterprise level plan can add audio files of up to two minutes to attach to their designs. Check out some samples in our Showcase. Designers can use audio to describe design choices, offer answers to questions, or provide information about products used in the design, all without interrupting the immersion of your VR experience.


Screencap of the Yulio Audio VR  Hotspots editor  




Some of the best use cases for audio in A&D VR are about imparting information while maintaining immersion:

Consistent presentations, even when you’re not there.
For those designers who typically present to a stakeholder who will later be sharing the design with other stakeholders, audio hotspots let the designer maintain control of the conversation. Presenting design choices and thought process with audio hotspots makes them part of the VR design presentation and ensures the information will be consistent as the design is viewed by multiple stakeholders.

Give unambiguous feedback and reduce meeting time
Designers constantly need to respond to client feedback. Audio hotspots allow you to do so within the next iteration of the design and give greater context to your comments. Place a hotspot over an area a client had questions about, or where they requested changes, and call attention to exactly how you addressed their concerns.


The evolution of product information
Audio VR hotspots let a user gaze at an object in the design, like a specific chair choice in an office, and hear about its features and benefits at the same time they are checking out its aesthetics, rather than refer to product information outside the design. Aside from the obvious applications in retail, the A&D designers can also talk about material choices and offer recommendations in context.

Increase the Ambience
There’s some research that says adding appropriate ambient noise to VR increases the level of immersion far more than some visual tweaks. It helps block the real world a little bit, draw focus to the design and brings life to the design, when used in the right ways. Consider a ceiling or sky audio hotspot in a park with the sound of children playing, general office noises in workplaces or water sounds near fountains and pools. Just like image searches, sounds can be found online or from a service like PacDV or SoundJay. Yulio has pursued audio hotspots because, while we have seen instances of text used in VR, our user testing has demonstrated how distracting it can be. When viewers enter a virtual world and are confronted with large blocks of text to read, it’s distracting in a few ways:

  • It physically covers a portion of the design
  • It’s disorienting to have text floating in space
  • It represents a poor use of VR – why send them into a VRE to read?


  VR room with a text menu overlaid, blocking some of the VR design



They turn off when a user looks away to avoid interrupting the design experience. We’re currently supporting multiple audio formats, including mp3, .wav, m4a, ogg, wma and acc file types, along with many more. Just upload your audio files to Yulio and add them to your scene in the hotspot editor.




Screen shot of office VR image with Yulio vr hotspots editor  



You can still adjust the depth of the hotspot in the scene to make it appear closer or further away in 3D space.


Generating audio files
If you’re looking for help generating audio files, there are a few options available. For quick conversation style comments between you and your client, use a native recorder app available in windows or on most smartphones. Speak slowly and eliminate ambient noise, and the file will carry your ideas clearly. If you’re just too shy to record yourself or want a more detached sound, there are plenty of good Text To Speech (TTS) options, like NaturalSpeech.com. The results can be a bit robotic, but they get the job done. It’s a matter of personal preference, but we find the female voice options a little more natural sounding. For a higher end recording, worthwhile on product info you use all the time, or on a major presentation or portfolio asset, professional voice artists can be hired through agencies all over North America – a quick Google search brings up dozens of options.


Get Started
Audio VR hotspots are available immediately to all Yulio Enterprise clients. To learn more and begin using them, visit our knowledge base.  Or to create your custom Enterprise plan, reach us at hello@yulio.com.
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Business, How to, Technical, VR, Your Business + Virtual Reality
Choosing the Best VR Headset for your Business
When comparing VR headsets for business, there is complexity beyond navigating the explosion of new hardware that’s coming to market. Considerations have to be made around what’s going to deliver the best experience to your clients through seamless sales presentations, and how that aligns with costs and ROI – and how effectively sales can use the hardware. Start by considering your use cases. One sweet spot our clients have found for business VR is in quick, impromptu, out-of-office portfolio demos when prospecting for new business, while others may be focussed on pitches in their own boardrooms, or on the presentation of designs when seeking feedback and signoff. Whichever cases you are looking to solve with VR, headsets suited to the task are key, and having put in over a thousand hours of user testing, here are our recommendations for the best business VR headsets:  

Ground Floor
Google Cardboard and the Homido Mini are the key players here. Costing around $15 each and working with any smartphone, they’ve both helped to revolutionize the accessibility of VR. The Homido Mini is small enough to fit in your pocket, meaning sales teams can easily showcase designs in VR wherever and whenever there’s an opportunity. (As an aside, this is key for job-seekers too – A&D students powered by Yulio carry their portfolios in their pockets to demonstrate their design skills, and comfort with technology) Google Cardboard headsets (or that style) can be bought in lots of places.They’re straightforward to assemble and highly ‘brandable’ so can be given away to prospects affordably. We use them at tradeshows and presentations and they offer a solid viewing experiences and an exciting giveaway.


Homido Mini VR viewer  
Yulio Branded Google Cardboard style VR Viewer

These lower-end headsets are effective for mobile VR, but they don’t offer as immersive a viewing experience because they let light in and allow the real world to intrude little on a virtual environment.  

Great Middle Experiences
Greater immersion through higher-end headsets can be an incredibly effective sales tool in the right presentations. Taking a step up in price and specs, we recommend our clients get the Samsung GearVR or Noon when starting in VR. They’re good compromises on cost vs quality of experience. These both work by inserting a mobile device; any device works in the Noon but, for the Gear, only Samsung phones are compatible.

Business VR Headsets: Samsung Gear VR and Noon


Both offer strong immersion, are portable and affordable – at around $120 – for businesses wanting to make an impact with VR without moving up to tethered headsets and systems. One caution with mobile VR experiences: as part of the total ownership cost, you may want to consider buying dedicated smartphones for presentations.  Using a multi-purpose or business phone comes with the potential to disrupt a user’s immersive experience through chiming texts or calls. Purchasing a dedicated phone is certainly a way to get around this but obviously comes with significant additional cost. Pro Tip: consider using a Kijiji or other buying service like Craigslist to pick up used phones in good condition. You’ll lower the overall cost of ownership but still have devices dedicated to showing VR experiences.  

Staying Ahead of the Technology
One more important consideration – at Yulio, we’ve watched the original genesis of VR come and go and it’s clearly going to be a rapidly changing technology. We’re specifically expecting some pretty significant churn in VR headset hardware over the next 8-12 months. As a result, it’s important to choose software that will support multiple devices and headsets. Working with a device-specific technology only to have it become obsolete as the market changes would leave designs unviewable, and your investment in assets wasted. Great new headsets are launching all the time, including Google Daydream which has come with a lot of excitement in part because of the power of a Google Play Store full of potential content. But beware when purchasing any headset hardware that most are limited by phone compatibility (just 4 right now for the Daydream), making them potentially less useful to your sales team and clients unless you’re investing in phone hardware too. At Yulio, we keep abreast of the VR landscape and changing technologies in viewer apps and headsets so that our clients don’t have to – they’re business isn’t about VR trends, so we do that for them. Find a partner with the flexibility to be hardware agnostic, and the resources to be your lookout as VR presentations evolve in the industry.  

A Note on Tethered headsets:
Oculus Rift and HTC Vive both deliver a fully immersive experience with ultra-high definition imagery. Being the VR industry’s poster children, they spark a lot of interest, and, used in the right environments with willing participants, can be an impressive draw. On the downside, the need to be tethered to a powerful PC, on top of cost of the headset, makes it an expensive undertaking, and one that is limited in usage to tradeshows or in your office / boardroom. Our user testing has also demonstrated a greater issue with Virtual Reality sickness in tethered VR than mobile, likely due to the greater difference between reality and perception of motion. The incongruity between those are what cause most sensory conflicts and create the feeling of nausea.   

Our Business VR testing has shown:
Business users are sometimes hesitant to wear VR headsets – they may have concerns about a headset’s cleanliness, or it messing up makeup and hair (and for the record that objection is raised more often by men). What all that really means is hesitation about looking foolish in front of work colleagues. Being strapped into VR is blindfolding and isolating, and users may be nervous about nausea. At Yulio we’ve adopted a practice of immediately removing the straps from our headsets, preferring instead to allow users to hold a device up their face when needed, like the Cardboard and Homido. They allow your clients to more easily pop in and out of the experience, and have a more collaborative and social presentation, without the sensation of being trapped. Think about workarounds for anything that makes the experience of using VR a negative that might be associated with your design.



For more thoughts from Yulio about the best VR software and headsets to drive your business, check out our Whitepaper where we run down the key considerations for business VR that drives ROI.
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Design, How to, Technical, VR, Your Business + Virtual Reality
Finding yourself facing your first VR designs and drawing? Don’t worry, you’ve got this. VR is still design –but design that creates an immersive experience and therefore emotional connection, and less ambiguous presentation of your ideas. If you’re beginning your first VR design, focus on the design elements, then apply the tips we’ve outlined below and take advantage of our 1000+ hours of VR testing over the last 15 years.  

Look behind you
There’s a fundamental shift happening in design. Where artists once had full control over the narrative, viewers are now able to focus on any element they wish. They won’t be staring straight ahead at all times. You can’t force a 2D design concept into 3D space, and if you aren’t adapting, your designs won’t meet the new expectations of your clients to fully investigate your presentation. You’re used to setting a viewpoint into a scene, something that sits inside a frame, but VR is controlled more by the viewer. Users can turn their heads and of course, look behind themselves. If viewers turn around to be confronted with a blank abyss, you’ve lost the sense of immersion. That doesn’t mean you need to take the time to create everything in the scene at the same level of fidelity as your primary view, but you should plan for what viewers will see behind them. By extension, consider the ceiling and floor – we hosted a contest for architecture students at Yulio and received a number of entries that had blank white ceilings, since the designers weren’t accustomed to the idea that we’d be looking up in their renders. Even more jarring – the one that had no ceiling at all.  

Use real-world measurements
Make your VR experience as pure an abstraction of the real world as possible. Users will see everything in real-world scale and should  feel like they’re occupying the space. Having doorknobs, windows and kitchen surfaces appear either too high or too low disrupts the experience. Mixing up heights can also make a design disorientating. Setting your camera view at about 5’6” above the desired viewpoint will create an “average height” viewing experience and give viewers an entry to the scene that you have chosen. You may also need to consider the perspective of the individual who will be using the space. When our interior designers recently showed off a restaurant design, they did so from the perspective both of someone seated in a table, and in a separate scene, from the perspective of a server who would need to navigate the space.  

This Kitchen designed in SketchUp has a camera position that’s too high:


Yulio Sketchup example render with camera too high


Whereas when the camera is properly positioned, the scene feels more realistic:



Yulio Sketchup example render with camera at correct height  

Create a Story
Once you’ve set your entry points, most designs will flow through various scenes or rooms, which lead the user through your design story. These movements should be based on what clients will want to explore. Using VR software with ‘linkable’ hotspots can help streamline the user experience and connect multiple vantage points or additional scenes. Set up your hotspots carefully so they do not disrupt the visuals and spoil the user’s overall experience. In Yulio, we achieve this partly by allowing you to set the depth of the hotspot in the scene, so it can appear further or closer in space and be part of the natural design flow. Yulio hotspots can also be labeled, although we don’t recommend using too much text in VR – it spoils immersion and the rapid eye movements required to read a massive wall of text can create nausea.

Yulio VR Experience of hotel lobby showing Hotspots
Be a Guide
Consider how you’ll guide your user through the space – is there a logical path to the linked scenes or hotspots, and have you thought about what draws attention in the headset…and if you want it to draw attention? No one wants to have to ask a dozen technical questions just to successfully view a design so ensuring that the navigation is simple and user-friendly will leave clients able to concentrate solely on the design itself. Finally, when in doubt, test. At Facebook, they say “put it on your face”, at Yulio we like to “pop it in a headset”… just look at it in VR, see how the experience feels. Our clients, who are seasoned designers and architects with years of experience have told us they’ve changed the location of a beam, the height of a light switch and the number of skylights in an office that they just wouldn’t have noticed in 2D. All before construction began.


Take a look at some sample designs in our VR design showcase. And when you’re ready to learn more how VR can be a practical tool for your business, download our whitepaper to learn how to integrate it for the best ROI.
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