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

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


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


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




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

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




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

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




It makes fast VR, even faster –  and more personal

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



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

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




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





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

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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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Architecture, Business, Case Study, Design, VR, Your Business + Virtual Reality

With over 3,500 prestige clients, Gensler Denver is an architecture and design powerhouse creating remarkably diverse spaces for companies of all sizes. Gensler Denver was one of the earlier adopters of VR for architecture, and they’ve been using it in their business for a few years now.


We sat down with Alex Garrison (AG) about the company’s move into virtual reality and the impact they’ve seen from the integration of VR in key areas of their design and build processes.



To start, how has your office been using VR? What has the reception (by clients or internally) been like?

AG –  We’ve been using VR for a few years now, primarily for 360-degree rendering and we share those with clients through Samsung Gear Headsets in the office.

Overall clients love it. It blends both seeing the design of their project with the novelty of being able to use a VR headset. We’ve had a very positive reaction and it’s certainly a real asset to our design process.    

Our design teams internally are also really enjoying using it. There’s always something new we discover for the first time when we put on the VR headset and start looking at the space that’s being designed. Overall, it’s been really positive.

 


                   

Can you describe a recent project where VR played a role in your design?

AG –  We’re working on a project at Eagle County Airport, where we’re adding a new waiting area to the existing terminal building. As part of this, we needed to develop everything from a structural concept to the look and feel, including materiality, lighting, and even how large the windows will be for the mountain view while passengers wait for their flight. The visual impact of these separate elements really stands out when we render and look at the design wearing the VR headset.   

For instance, in one case we had a couple of different structural ideas; one of them had large trusses that extended into the volume of the space and it felt cramped when we viewed it through a headset. Following that, we tried a concept without the deep trusses and the space felt big and voluminous. The fact that VR offered a compelling sense of scale allowed us to accelerate the design process.

 

 

Some other clients have told us that they believe VR helps their clients better picture space and scale – has that been true for you?

AG –  The scale is definitely what you get from VR and that’s what’s really hard to get in other mediums. You can do it in physical models a little bit, but VR offers a true scale.





In our education program, we see that size estimation is really hard to teach students, so that’s one of the biggest things design professors are using VR to do. As a designer who has been practicing architecture for some time, is it still useful in that way?

AG  –  Absolutely. As architects, we often rely on benchmarks, such as certain story-to-facade ratios or typical window heights because we know they have worked in the past. Now, on top of using benchmarks, VR can help us explore, experiment and push these thresholds to see what a triple-height space would feel like, for example. We’re able to simulate our experimentation, learn from it and hone in on the right solution more quickly.

 

 

Would you say it can potentially allow for quicker experimentation?

AG –  Yes, exactly. We’re then able to simulate that experimentation, learn from it and hone in on the right solution using VR.




Are there any projects in or around Denver that have benefitted from the use of VR for Architecture?

AG –  One, in particular, is called Giambrocco – a mixed-use project planned in Denver. Here, we have been using VR to explore the public realm that stitches together several buildings and different uses into a cohesive whole. The intent of these areas is to provide a space for building tenants and the public alike to meet for a coffee, grab lunch, shop or catch a show. Also envisioned is a rotating schedule of events either day or night. In order to give our clients a true idea of what an experience such as a community movie night would look and feel like, we’ve been rendering these in VR.                

We’ve also been doing a lot of interior VR rendering tenant fit-out for spaces and office building projects. All of this helps give clients a true sense of space before anything is built.

 




At Yulio, we believe VR is almost a translation of what’s in the designer’s head and allows them to put their ideas in front of people without any ambiguity – something that’s really appropriate in real estate spaces. Do you find it easier to communicate the ideas in this medium than most others?

AG –   VR has a lot more potential than a 2D print-out of a rendering, as we’re able to provide spatial awareness which you can’t always get from 2D. But what VR is still catching up on, is allowing us to entourage and layer on a vibe that you can get on a 2D rendering.





What do you believe people struggle with at the moment when viewing designs?

AG –  Probably the same things that’s always been true, in as much as our clients vary in their ability to read the drawings and renderings. Architects and designs often forget they’ve been training for years to understand and interpret the drawings and designs and so the struggle most people have is the fidelity of what we conceive of and what they perceive.

We’re often very focused on the current space and trying to get a lot of rendering of the building to tell a whole story the best we can – especially with pitches and earlier concepts. That way we can try to help clients understand. Sometimes though,  in the time allotted to pitch, for example, clients don’t fully perceive the design, compared to say, another design.





How has VR changed client presentations?

AG – VR certainly expedites the sense of scale and space as well as materialities, so with the airport design, we were able to move quickly and in a linear fashion to make decisions on what stone to use, for example.

VR will probably open up more doors where we’ll explore more and more things. It’s tough to say whether the impact is faster, but it certainly is compared to static rendering.





Those are some great uses of VR in later stage presentations. Has Gensler used VR in other phases of a project, like pitching?

AG –  Yes, we’ve used VR in pitches to good effect. This can take the form of sharing new designs or sharing our work portfolio depending on the ask. In either circumstance, VR can be immensely helpful during pitches because it can evoke such a sense of spatial realism. It’s exciting for clients to see design concepts come to life so quickly. There is also an aspect of novelty that makes VR exciting to clients, as they may not have seen or used it before.

So, when we show potential clients projects using this technology, they are excited and feel we’re exceeding their expectations. They see value in working with a firm that is using the latest technology to solve their challenges.

 




Do you think there’s an appreciation from the client’s side when you’re using new technology and experimenting with VR for Architecture?

AG –   VR definitely has a feeling of being on the cutting edge. As architects, VR is purely a tool, so we’ve been aware of it for some time. For our clients, however, it’s brand new. They may have seen it, or heard their kids talking about it, but not necessarily have used it. So, when we show them their projects using this technology, they are exciting and feel like we, the architects, are exceeding their expectations and using new technology to solve their problems.





Are you encountering a lot of people that have not tried it out yet?

AG –   Yes, we are. We use it with most of our clients, but when we get new clients that haven’t used it before, they definitely get excited about using it.





Do you find that with clients that have worked with VR before, that there’s a ‘been there done that’ sort of mentality? Or are they still engaged and excited?

AG –   Yes, I think there is that ‘been there, done that’ quality, but it’s probably just a general human thing. It’s not like they’re bored, they just won’t take as long looking around – they’ll pick up the headset to look at one thing to make a decision and then they’ll put it down. It becomes almost second nature, which is, of course, the goal. It’s certainly happened on projects where we’ve used it several times with clients.

It’s a tool, not a flashy trick. It’s a great way to explore design. Clients will simply pick it up just like they would a print-out.




You presented designs with Yulio at the Colorado Real Estate Journal show in Denver – why did you decide to bring VR to the trade show and what was the response like? 

AG  –  Gensler is all about new tools and exploring ways to increase our abilities to design, so Yulio is one of these companies that aims to create a seamless connection between what we do and what VR provides. As an office, particular Denver, we thought it’s a great opportunity to show people the potential of this at the trade show.

Typically, the environment of a trade show is so that you’re inundated by so many things, that people are usually a little guarded. Most interesting about Yulio being at that booth, was that we noticed that the Yulio content is a lot more simple. It relies on a lot less custom technology or special set up and instead, is a simple tool for conveying 360 renderings through screens, headsets – plus it’s all through the cloud. It was an interesting experience to see a technology that is effective.





From your perspective as a designer, what will make VR for Architecture a more robust tool?

AG –  Probably the most important thing is more seamlessness. There’s still a perception (and sometimes reality) that the technology is still experimental, so there still needs to be a lot of tinkering and hand-holding. As a result, it can feel more like an impediment to design.

The most important thing a design tool could have would be to be a natural extension of the designer, so it’s like a pencil in the hand. You almost forget it’s there and so focus purely on what you’re drawing. VR‘s exciting next step would, therefore, be to become seamlessly integrated into our workflow, where it’s basically an output. We don’t have to specially think of creating a rendering in 360, we just do it. Or, it’s real-time and interactive. It just exists. We can literally jump into it like the Matrix and plug into that model with clients.





What are your next steps with VR at Gensler?

AG  –  To further integrate and make the use of VR seamless. We want to use VR not just with the headsets, but also online and through computers.

In the long term, we want to start exploring technology that allows people from across our firm all around the world to interact with each other through the model and experience it all at once.

Simply put, we envisage two stages; Step 1: interface and interaction, Step 2: to take it to next level to make it more of an online visual experience.





What do you think VR really brings to the industry?

AG –   It’s literally adding another dimension to our design. VR is a new tool that adds the idea of scale that we haven’t had before. It’s another exciting tool that increases our power to conceptualize and iterate ahead of actually having to build something.

I’m really excited to see what VR will do and how it will impact design. There’s strong evidence that suggests new tools bring in different design sensibilities. With the use of more computer design, we say beautiful buildings with very intricate computer machine parts – Apple HQ is the epitome of this. VR is going to add a new dimension; I don’t know what that is yet, but it’ll be exciting to see where it goes with its ability to really ‘feel’ space before its built.





We’d like to thank Alex Garrison for taking the time to speak to us this week about his practice’s use of VR for architecture. Check out their unique designs at https://www.gensler.com/ .

We love hearing about how integrating VR into businesses has such a positive impact, not only on the design process as a whole but for the experience of the client and designer as well.




Trying VR in your firm can bring you ROI and allow you to become a technology leader. Want to learn more about VR for business? Check out our free 5-day course, or create a VR experience for free with a Yulio account.

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

VR has opened up new possibilities for several industries, but the hope it holds for architects and designers is staggering. And like any new technology, the people that use it most successfully will learn to design in VR, rather than simply translate more traditional methods to the new medium.


In 1936, when NBC broadcast the first television show in history, it consisted simply of a camera pointed at two individuals sitting at a table. It was essentially a camera pointing at two people doing a radio show – a medium where a winning pattern was well established. Broadcasters have since become experts in creating within and for the medium, having long ago abandoned attempting to translate a different medium for a television audience. VR presents similar challenges.



 


The same thing can be said about how web pages were originally designed. The earliest examples were essentially single-page PDFs that displayed text in a very basic template. Now, of course, websites are the primary storytelling medium for brands to communicate to their key audiences. Designers have learned how to use the medium to take viewers on a journey, and tell them a story.


So here we are again at the start of a new learning curve for a new medium. And it will take time, creativity and energy to uncover the extent of its experiential capabilities and to learn to design in VR.



 


Why should you learn to design in VR?

Goldman Sachs has estimated the VR industry will reach $80 billion by 2025. Specifically, learning to design and tell stories in VR is increasingly on the radar of the largest companies and organizations in the world like Audi, The North Face, UNICEF, and McDonald’s.

In architecture and design, there are already CAD programs that allow the designer to visualize in 2D and 3D renderings – but early adoption is key. Design in VR includes other considerations, such as sound, depth, and the potential for a deeper emotional connection to the content. It’s a medium that pushes beyond traditional image and video content to full immersion. And we’ve only just begun started discovering how it can be used. But how do you start to think and design in VR?




Step 1: Learn the medium

To really understand how to think in VR, you need to have experienced it yourself. If you’ve yet to, pick up a smartphone and a VR headset. There are plenty of budget-friendly options when it comes to hardware. Here is our overview of some options here!




Where do you look, what do you see?

After familiarizing yourself with the medium, you need to think about the perspective of your client when they enter the experience. Our own testing has revealed people tend to look up and to the right when they first go into the VRE (virtual reality experience). Then they look behind them. It’s a different pattern for most designers, who usually focus on certain design elements in one static point vs. the aesthetic of the whole space. Anticipate every head turn and angle, just as if you were presenting a finished product.


When immersed in VR, you’re not just observing a scene; you’re actively participating in it – and changing your actions based on what you want to look at or interact with at the moment.


Remember that design elements in VR come to life in a way they simply don’t in traditional renderings. The quality of your images determines the clarity of the design, which will help with client uncertainty when you’re presenting a design.


“Aspects, such as the structure, how it looks, what lighting layout[s] look like, what kind of wood we’re using and how reflective the type of stone will be are all elements that really pop out when we render in VR and look around the design wearing the VR headset.” 

– Alex Garrison, Gensler Denver





Step 2: VR is more than just visual

VR experiences are sensory-heavy, which means you approach every move while engaging with any senses being tapped into. This also means your client will learn they have full control over their respective experience and movement within the virtual space. Designers can use this to their advantage by accessing VR features like navigational and audio hotspots.


Navigational hotspots can be used to move around the space and see different angles and perspectives, or maybe move down a hallway into a new section of a project. They help your client have a sense of space and scale throughout your design.



 



Another use for navigational hotspots is to display alternate design options for a project, such as alternate color schemes, finishes, and furnishings. Hotspots allow your client to “try on” different styles by eliminating the need to purchase sample products to compare in the space – and thereby, accelerating design decisions.




 


Navigational hotspots are also used to show what a design could look like during different times of the day (day/night) or year (winter/summer). This can be useful for potential homebuyers if they feel uncertain about location or views from their home.


Audio hotspots are also used in VRE’s to deepen the immersive experience for users. Some common uses are for providing design rationale, adding a narrative element, or including ambient noise to enhance the VRE for your viewer.



 



Thinking outside of the (virtual) box

Mediums, like language, are something that needs to be learned. Think about how you learn a language. You aren’t truly fluent until you can speak in it without translating it into your head. VR is still a medium that hasn’t been explored much, and really, no one is truly fluent yet, which means that people are likely bound to find some new functionality or use-cases that VR is perfectly suited for.


Consider, for example, a company named VR Coaster. They work to combine virtual reality with roller coasters and other theme park rides to heighten the experience for riders. The VR technology works alongside the real force, drops, and airtime that you would already get from the ride, but with some VR twists to make it an experience of a lifetime.




 


So, when you’re creating a virtual reality experience and trying to think in VR, remember you’re not just designing elements to look at. You’re crafting an entire environment for your clients to live in for a few moments. There’s so much potential to designing in VR, and the world is just getting started.


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

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

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


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


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



5 Years

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

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



11 Million+

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



51%

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



171 Million

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



$12.1 Billion

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



$40.4 Billion

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



1 Billion +

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



41%

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



44%

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



250

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



82 million

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



90%

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



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


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

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AR, Culture, Lifestyle, Travel, VR

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

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

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


Marketing travel destinations

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

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





 


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

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


Lynne Slowey, Head of Digital Content, Thomas Cook

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



 



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



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

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



Confidence in booking

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

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



 


Drive Booking Rates with VR Travel Previews

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


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



Allowing those who can’t travel to see new things

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


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



 

 

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

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

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


Matthew Carroll, Vice President of Marriott Hotels

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

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


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

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Business, Lifestyle, VR, Your Business + Virtual Reality
Like all great disruptive technologies, VR has begun to establish itself in a way that makes business leaders … uncomfortable. They’re hearing more about it. They’ve had clients mention it. They’ve heard their competitors are trying it. They just haven’t got around to doing anything about it … yet. If current predictions are correct, they will. And when they do, they’ll likely have questions that sound something like the ones below. So we’ve put together an outline of VR basics to get you up to speed.

What’s the difference between AR, MR & VR?
Augmented Reality or ‘AR’ works through a smartphone or similar device simply overlaying digital information onto an existing environment. Traditionally the digital content being viewed only interacts with the real world in a superficial way, if at all. Within perhaps the most famous current example of AR, Pokemon Go, the content (i.e. the Pokemon characters) only react to a smartphone’s GPS location and direction meaning that whether a player is standing in front of a bush or in an open field, the character’s appearance on the screen remains the same. With limited functionality, AR has, up to know, found very few truly sticky business applications. In contrast, Mixed Reality or ‘MR’ is the merging of real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualizations where both physical and digital objects co-exist and interact with one another in real time. Using the Pokemon Go example, were that experience to in Mixed Reality, the characters could do things like hiding behind bushes instead of just being effectively painted on top of them. Similarly, in a retail application using Mixed Reality, a user who was looking to understand how a piece of new furniture might look in an existing room, could place it virtually where they wanted it and it would stay in position as the viewer moved around it. Virtual Reality or ‘VR’ is a fully immersive, 360-degree digital environment that users can interact within a seemingly real way with the help of an electronic headset. It is designed to fully replace anything a user will see with their own eyes and therefore, where VR could be used to virtually transport someone underwater to experience swimming amongst dolphins, AR could theoretically help them study a dolphin while standing in their kitchen and MR could have that virtual dolphin jump out of a travel advert in their favourite magazine.

How could we use it?
There are some VR basics we’ve encountered over out thousand hours of user testings, and one of the big discoveries is that most strong executions of VR fall into one of three key categories: VR is great for showing something that doesn’t exist yet – think, placing someone within a new home or condo that’s yet to be built, let them sit in a concept car before it’s hit the production line, or hey, have them experience a vacation on the moon. There are literally no limits. VR can show off something that exists but is a long way away or somehow inaccessible – think about transporting someone into the heart of a major sporting event, enabling them to visit Paris without getting on a plane, or take in the views from a remote trail they might never otherwise be able to get to. VR is perfect for modeling something that is too large, complex or expensive to model in the real world – think about allowing people to choose their perfect combination from the limitless possible permutations of features, options, and colours available in a new car and virtually experience them immediately, or, in the case of Yulio client, Diamond Schmitt Architects, allowing their client Ingenium to get a true sense of the scale of an enormous new building being designed as part of Canada’s Science and Technology Museum – feel free to read more about that here. Checking any ideas for possible business applications of VR against these categories can go some way in helping to make sure they’re going to offer customers a unique experience and inspire them into taking the action you’re looking for.

How would we create content?
The best methods of creating VR content will vary depending on the eventual application. For those in architecture, interior design, construction, etc, who are already using computer design technologies, VR authoring can be a matter of a couple of extra clicks from your CAD programs to create basic VR experiences.  These can then be easily shared via a link or embedded into websites with a simple snippet of code. Using 360-degree cameras to capture footage and software packages such as videostich to assemble it is an option but, for most business users, with a level of complexity far beyond the relative ease of traditional video capture and editing, this do-it-yourself route is commonly less popular. For more elaborate and adventurous applications of VR, it’s well worth consulting one of the growing numbers of specialist agencies who can provide expertise in, not only in the validation of an idea but in the creation of the content ensuring it hits the mark where, when and precisely how it’s meant to.   

Do we need to start using it now?
The short answer is, yes (it’s the same conclusion the long answer gets to in the end). Why? Because you’re still early enough to be an early mover in an industry that’s making major moves. Most organizations are still wrapping their heads around VR basics, but they are moving. And you don’t need to take our word for it. Here are some stats; Approximately 75% of the companies on the Forbes’ World’s Most Valuable Brands list have developed or are in the process of developing virtual reality experiences for their customers or their employees, according to an October 2015 survey. There are already an estimated 43 million people using VR technology and that figure is set to double next year and double again the following. According to a Greenlight VR consumer survey, of those that try VR, 79% seek it out again and 81% claim they tell their friends about the experience. The most frequently used word about VR? “Cool!”. Enough said.

What technology do we need?
In the same way that the best method of creating content depends on the application it’s needed for, the best VR software and hardware will depend on how and where it’s going be used. Using mobile VR as we do at Yulio, the technology required to deliver an experience to a client, colleague or customer starts with a user’s smartphone and around $15 for a cardboard headset or simple plastic Homido viewer. For an impromptu demonstration of a design portfolio or to get a quick thumbs up from a client on a recent round of design iterations, this is literally all that’s needed. And they are still, for many companies the building blocks and key entry point into VR. Getting your hands on a few of these are key to your VR basics strategy. There are a rapidly growing number of technology options now available for VR content creation, publishing, and viewing. Each of these range in price, quality, practicality, and mobility. For a more detailed look at viewer options, feel free to read our recent post on tips for choosing the best headset. With technologies changing fast, the secret is to pick a solution capable of adapting to changing viewing habits and also able to handle the ever more ingenious applications your business will inevitably think up to throw at it. Take these quick notes a step further and wow your boss with your expertise when you take our free VR course, and download our state of the industry presentation. You’ll be a VR star in no time.
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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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