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Your Business + Virtual Reality

Livestream collaboration lets designers walk clients through their designs

Sweden-based Configura announces a collaboration with Toronto-based Yulio to bring a mobile virtual reality experience to thousands of interior designers and customers around the globe for the cost of a $15 VR headset and a simple subscription service. Yulio is a DIY virtual reality platform for those in the business of designing spaces. The technology enables 3D designs to be turned into rich, immersive 360-deree VR experiences with just a few clicks. The VR experiences can be shared directly to clients’ smartphones or other devices for viewing. Livestream collaboration functionality lets designers walk and talk clients through their designs. “Democratizing VR and ‘baking it into the workflow’ is an extremely inexpensive way to improve the client experience,” Yulio’s founder and Managing Director Rob Kendal said Configura – known for its CET Designer space-planning software used by such global office furniture giants as Steelcase, Haworth and Herman Miller – partnered with Yulio to democratize the use of virtual reality in interior design. Yulio’s “3D to VR software” plugin – available as a CET Designer Extension – takes what was once a pricey proposition and makes it an affordable, easy and agile experience. The collaborative technology recently launched with the release of CET Designer 7.5. The Yulio Extension in CET Designer is free. The Yulio subscription service is as low as $20 per month for a single user account, which can enable virtually unlimited usage for dealerships. Yulio offers a free 30-day trial in which users can sign up online, download the Extension and immediately begin using Yulio. “The technology makes it so cost-effective and simple to use that you can’t afford not to use it,” says Configura Chief Product Officer Nicklas Dagersten.  

Democratizing design

Virtual reality is nothing new to the gaming and entertainment world where it first took off commercially. But VR is now spreading into all kinds of industries – including the interior design profession and particularly in the contract furniture market where customers want to experience their workspace before purchasing products. Until recently, VR in commercial interior design has been costly, with high-end VR headsets hovering around $600 USD. Meanwhile, Google Cardboard and Homido MINI products can be sourced for around $15 USD per headset. Software such as CET Designer in combination with Yulio enable an immersive experience that includes specific products and details – brands, colors, materials, lighting, flooring and accessories. “For an architect or designer, viewing an image of a 3D space may be enough to fully visualize the space. Yet this isn’t the case for many of their clients,” Kendal says. “Yulio and Configura bridge this communication gap – placing the customer directly into the VR design and creating certainty in what was previously often a guessing game.”  

How it works:

  1. An interior designer (or architect, specifier, salesperson, facilities manager, etc.) uses CET Designer to create a space in 3D, dragging and dropping actual office furniture products into place.
  2. When satisfied with the design, the designer renders the drawings using the Yulio Extension. The rendered output takes the form of a “cube map” and is automatically uploaded to the Yulio cloud.
  3. The designer shares the cube map with one click, directly to the client’s preferred viewing device – a smartphone, tablet or computer. The customer can view the space directly on the device as a 360-degree panoramic scene – what Yulio calls “fishbowl VR” – or enhance the experience with virtual reality by downloading the Yulio Viewer app (available for iOS, Android and Samsung Gear VR) to a smartphone, and then using the app in conjunction with a VR headset such as Google Cardboard or Homido MINI.
  4. The designer sees what the customer sees as they’re guided through the VR space. With remote collaboration functionality, designer and client can be anywhere in the world.

Live collaboration

Live collaboration is activated through live.yulio.com. Kendal explains: “It’s as easy as a designer saying to a customer over the phone, ‘Let me run some ideas by you.’ The designer gives the customer the Yulio URL, and is now able to facilitate a live collaboration where the host can see what the viewer is looking at. It allows is a fully moderated experience where the designer can walk clients through different parts of the design.” The technology works with Revit and other major industry CAD tools, which means entire buildings of designed space can be experienced in VR. Yulio’s technology also can be embedded on a user’s own website, where an entire portfolio of VR and fishbowl VR experiences can be shared with clients and potential clients. “We’re solving real business problems with a real-world tool that is available now,” Dagersten says. For designers who want to offer their clients the ability to literally “walk around” in a virtually designed space – down corridors, along hallways and so forth – there’s Configura’s Virtual Viewer VR. The Virtual Viewer VR Extension offers full support for the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. Virtual reality for CET Designer was the first immersive, industry-wide VR solution introduced on the market that supports multiple manufacturers’ products and then allows the furniture buyer to virtually walk through their space before they purchase. CET Designer supports more than 100 manufacturers’ product lines through different Extensions.  

Better process, faster decisions

Firms who are already using VR report that it helps clients make design-related decisions in a fraction of the time that it would usually take them – in fact, shortening the design and collaboration process by up to 50 percent, according to Kendal. “Designers and their clients are using VR to predict design errors before a project actually begins construction, making for a much smoother construction phase,” he said. Some firms have taken their VR services one step further, building entirely new revenue streams based on this technology. For example, using Yulio’s technology, a Toronto-based design firm has begun creating VR designs to help clients of a major national real estate company visualize otherwise empty apartment spaces. Where the real estate company previously would have spent $50-$60 per square foot building actual model apartments, VR is a fast and economical alternative. According to Kendal, “Virtually all of the major architectural and design organizations are actively investigating and using VR technology. Of course, the ‘wow’ factor that comes with the medium is giving early adopters a critical advantage at this point – we’ve lost count at the number of ‘wins’ attributed to a pair of goggles.”   Learn more about how virtual reality is changing the architecture and design industry in this blog post by Yulio: https://yulio.com/2016/10/10/2-ways-virtual-reality-is-changing-the-architecture-and-design-industries/ Experience various Yulio demos here: https://www.yulio.com/showcase/. View an example of an office space at https://www.yulio.com/OGZQk2X5ke. View an example of a kitchen space at: https://www.yulio.com/khxWG4slBo. Watch the video: https://youtu.be/bJBt0eYRcQw. Configura’s Kelsey DeBruin explains how Yulio works with CET Designer in this short video: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B7kP4AuUc3-cWGM5ZEljVkhFbGM Configura’s Kelsey DeBruin interviews Yulio Chief Product Officer Iain Hall and demos CET Designer and Yulio during a Facebook Live event on Thursday, Jan. 19, 11 a.m. ET at www.facebook.com/cetdesigner.
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Your Business + Virtual Reality
Until now, there has been no simple way to produce high-quality, stereoscopic cube maps from Rhino for Virtual Reality: until now. Yulio’s Rhino plugin allows Rhino users to create stereoscopic cube maps and export directly to Yulio, completely free of charge. See how it works here: Want the free Yulio for Rhino plugin? Start your free trial of Yulio at www.yulio.com and download the plugin free.
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Your Business + Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality and the Evolution of Communication

We design for humans—that’s no secret. But designing with humans is, arguably, a more difficult feat. Design, in most forms, is an isolated process, housed in the mind of a single creator, distinct from review sessions and feedback gathering. As technology has evolved, we’ve gotten better at communicating our vision to others: sketches became cartoon-like computer-generated images, which became photo-realistic 3D renderings.
The emergence of Virtual Reality technology in the A&D community is thus less of a revolution (as many will claim), and more of an evolution. Its advent hints at a future of design collaboration that sounds more like The People’s Church than a lone Adele-esque solo. Virtual Reality’s status as a design trend comes in second to its status as a communication trend. While the ability to visualize an image as a 3D space has traditionally set collaborators apart, Virtual Reality brings everyone to the discussion.
Leading the industry as a design communication tool, YulioVR plugs directly into an architect or designer’s established workflow (Revit, Max, SketchUp, you name it), turning 3D models into 3D spaces. With communication as the holy grail, Yulio connects team members and clients with live-stream conferencing, made possible by their steadfast dedication to the practical world of mobile VR.
The future is ours to design. Skeptics, hush: technology isn’t replacing human connection. It’s evolving it.
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Your Business + Virtual Reality

Client Engagement, Part 3: Remote Collaboration

Once you’ve got your clients set up with their own headsets and they’re comfortable viewing VR independently, you can host remote collaboration sessions for quick discussions. Using a tool like Yulio’s Collaborate feature, you can invite a client to join you on their own device, wherever they are. You can guide them through your designs by seeing where they’re looking using this to initiate discussion. Remote collaboration allows you to cut down on travel and face-to-face time, meaning you’ll get quicker feedback and move things along faster. Quick warning! While it’s easy to become a little obsessed with new technology, make sure your technology doesn’t replace real human interaction. It’s important to meet with clients in person, and spend time a little time with the goggles off!   Interested in trying VR for free? Head to www.yulio.com and start your free trial today.
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Your Business + Virtual Reality

Client Engagement, Part 2

Early Design Collaboration

VR can be a highly effective communication medium in the early design stages of a project. It allows you to quickly do basic blocking and show your clients basic layouts. This will help them understand the space they’re working with right from the start, and it’ll help set you on the right track early on based on their feedback. It will also help them feel more involved in the process and not quite so lost—as floorplans and sketches have the tendency to do.

Final Decisions

As helpful as VR can be in the early stages of a design, it’s also a game-changer for decision-making in the last stages. With highly detailed, photo-realistic renderings, you can showcase the finished product to your clients in all its glory, and get much clearer feedback. Virtual Reality has been known to predict real-world construction errors before construction even begins. On top of this, presenting your final renderings in VR has the added benefit of helping your clients feel more reassured of the real-life design they’ll be getting, and be happier with the finished construction when everything’s finished.   Interested in trying VR for free? Head to www.yulio.com and start your free trial today.
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Your Business + Virtual Reality

Client Engagement, Part 1: Engage From Day 1

The best way to ease your clients into the world of VR and make the collaboration experience as rewarding as possible is to introduce them to VR in-person, with your own headset. Preferably, this will be on a higher-range headset (we recommend Samsung’s Gear VR) for an even more impressive first experience. After this introduction, you’ll have an easy entry point to set your clients up with their own headset. We suggest leaving them with a branded cardboard headset, and (if you’re using Yulio), instructions for downloading the Yulio Viewer app and how to view the designs you’ll be sending through. A handheld introduction to the world of VR like this will help your clients feel like they’ve got the tools to communicate better with you, be more involved in the design process, and have a stronger voice in important decisions. But what if my clients are resistant to VR? You may very well have clients who feel overwhelmed or even threatened by the thought of being expected to use VR technology. The best way to approach this resistance is to explain that you’re using VR technology to make it easier for them to understand your designs and your process. VR is, ultimately, for them—not you. Then, show them how easy it is to use and navigate by handing them a headset and walking them through the process.   Interested in trying VR for free? Head to www.yulio.com and start your free trial today.
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Your Business + Virtual Reality

Marketing, Part 3: Attracting Media Attention with VR

Virtual Reality is a buzzword right now—and one that you can seriously capitalize on. While VR is well-known for its use in the gaming and entertainment worlds, the story for professional and business use cases of VR is still yet to be told. Focus your story on how your business is giving clients the ultimate collaboration experience with VR, and the story will tell itself. As any marketer or business owner knows, getting your firm’s name out there is (almost) always a good thing. But getting your firm’s name out in association with VR technology is even better: it’s a surefire way to position your firm as an industry leader and technological innovator.  A reputation like this does more than simply steal attention from your competitors and draw in clients—it’s also instrumental in attracting top talent.   Interested in trying VR for free? Head to www.yulio.com and start your free trial today.
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Your Business + Virtual Reality

Marketing, Part 2: Publish and Share Your Work in VR

A share-friendly VR solution like Yulio will let you share VR experiences with a simple URL, through all your usual channels.

Website

One major benefit of choosing a VR provider with a monthly subscription payment model like Yulio (rather than a pay-per-project model) is the ability to host a virtually unlimited number of projects permanently in VR. This means you’re able to showcase your entire existing portfolio in VR, rather than simply using VR as a presentation tool during collaborative projects. If your VR solution allows you to embed Virtual Reality experiences into your website (like Yulio) you’ll have a self-generating sales mechanism all-year round. Presenting your portfolio in VR on your website is guaranteed to make you stand out from your competitors and make your designs even more impactful for prospects.

Sharing: Social and Email

Another benefit of a sharing-friendly VR solution is that VR is no longer confined to your office headset—you can spread your designs across the world in seconds. For example, with Yulio, each Virtual Reality experience has its own unique URL, which is all you need to be able to share the experience with others, and allow them to view it on their own smartphone and headset. Better yet, you can share your projects even with those clients or team members who don’t have headsets, because of Yulio’s interactive browser display mode. A 360° or VR experience is always more engaging than a simple JPEG rendering of a design—and very simple to produce. Be sure to choose a VR solution that fully integrates with social media channels—for example, all Yulio project links embedded in Tweets will generate your project’s thumbnail—and we all know posts with images have much higher click-through-rates! The beauty of sharing your projects via social media and email is that you can track engagement with your designs through your analytics platforms. Combine this with viewer analytics such as those offered by Yulio and you’ve got powerful knowledge about which designs your audience connect with most.   Interested in trying VR for free? Head to www.yulio.com and start your free trial today.
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Your Business + Virtual Reality

Marketing, Part 1: Customize your VR Technology

Though VR is a natural sales tool, one of its biggest untapped potentials is as a powerful marketing machine. Of course, no one can predict what this technology will be capable of in even a few years’ time, but here are three things you can already do with VR technology to add a little more excitement to your marketing campaigns.

Hardware

With new headsets entering the market every day, VR hardware is quickly becoming an inexpensive branding tool. Consider custom-branding VR headsets (a cost-effective option is custom-branded cardboard-style goggles) to leave behind with clients and prospects, to give out at events or at the office. A giveaway headset is much more impactful than a simple flyer—or worse—a branded pen: it’s the kind of thing that’ll be passed around the office or taken home. It’s also much more likely to be used or at least kept around for a while (rather than thrown straight in the trash).

Software

While hardware is one half of the equation, the true VR experience happens inside your headset. When searching for a VR technology provider, be sure to choose one that allows you to whitelabel or customize its technology. For example, Yulio users can brand Virtual Reality Experiences and intermediary web pages with their company logo and promotional offers. Our aim at Yulio is to minimize our branding to make your firm’s branding front and center.   Interested in trying VR for free? Head to www.yulio.com and start your free trial today.
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Your Business + Virtual Reality

Showcase Your Portfolio

What better way to greet visitors to your office than with a powerful display of what you can do? With a VR solution like Yulio, you can set up a permanent VR display center (with live-streaming, auto-pan and connected hardware) to showcase your firm’s portfolio in VR. This is both a novel and engaging way to interact with prospects and introduce them to your firm’s work, or reinforce your abilities.

Showcase Similar Projects

We all know that your best persuasive tool is your work. This is where VR can seriously make an impression. If you’re meeting with a prospect and really want to impress them, hand them a headset pre-loaded with the projects they’ll find most impressive. Make sure you’re confident with the technology and can set it up smoothly—though a mobile VR solution like Yulio is very easy to use, be sure you’ve loaded the right projects in the right order, and all your software is up-to-date. The last thing you want is a technical glitch to ruin the experience! The best part? This isn’t just a one-off display to impress them. After they’ve taken off the headset, explain to them that this is the technology you’ll be using to collaborate with them throughout the design phases of their project. Better yet—when you say good bye, end on a positive note by leaving them with the headset. Sold.
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Your Business + Virtual Reality
There’s never been an easy way to produce high-quality, stereoscopic cube maps from SketchUp for Virtual Reality: until now. Yulio’s SketchUp plugin allows SketchUp users to create stereoscopic cube maps and export directly to Yulio, completely free of charge. If you’re a V-Ray user, you’ll find that Yulio works seamlessly alongside V-Ray. If not, you’ll love Yulio’s high quality built-in ray-tracer. See how it works here:   Want the free Yulio for SketchUp plugin? Start your free trial of Yulio at www.yulio.com and download the plugin free.
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