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

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


VR Trends in Hardware

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




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


Yulio tip:

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


VR Trends by Business Vertical

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

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

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



Yulio tip:

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


 

VR Trends from Early Adopters   

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

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


Yulio tip:

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




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

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AR, Architecture, Business, 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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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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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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