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AR, Business, Industry News, VR

We talk with architects, designers, construction planners, BIM executives and many more, every day who know VR is going to be disruptive to their industry. But they are sometimes uncertain about whether VR is more than a tech novelty – they want to know how to spot a trend vs. a fad.  That makes sense to us! If businesses are going to invest in implementing VR, or the wider category of digital reality they want to know if it’s a passing fad, or if it’s here for good. And how to get the best ROI from it.


The first thing to understand about the VR market is the significant difference between consumer and business markets. The less than juggernaut sales of headsets for consumers led some analysts to call VR a disappointment. But there is a difference in personal investment for things like gaming and entertainment, vs business needs for designers to communicate their vision where the costs are amortized over many users, and the potential to win business.


Digital Reality?

Digital reality is a term that IDC has coined, and is meant to be used as an umbrella term that virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR) (a mixture of augmented and virtual reality) 360 degree, and immersive technologies can all fall under. It’s a recognition that new immersive visual technologies all have different uses, and the specific mechanics aren’t important in the larger trend of Digital Reality. A lot of people anticipate mixed reality being the big winner in the space because it makes use of physical and virtual space to create captivating scenes for any industry-use, but for now, VR and AR are the primary focus in the market. We anticipate those labels falling away as we adopt a larger view of Digital Reality, with the different categories becoming tools in the toolbox with different strengths.


What’s the Market Like?

Goldman Sachs released a Profile of Innovation surrounding virtual and augmented reality, and it describes the tech as “hav[ing] the potential to become the next big computing platform”, comparing the rise of investment and market disruption of digital reality as similar to when the PC and smartphone were released.


The report notes that, “[they] believe that VR/AR has the potential to spawn a multi-billion dollar industry, and possibly be as game-changing as the advent of the PC”, and that, “[they] see qualities in VR/AR technology that can take this from niche use cases to a device as ubiquitous as the smartphone” – Pretty powerful statements, if you ask me.



In 2016, the VR software and hardware market size worldwide reached 3.7 million, and 6.4 million in 2017 – now in 2018, it’s estimated to reach 12.1 million. The market trend forecast predicts that it will continue to double until 2020, which is similar to the original rise of the PC, but it’ll take a bit more time to get there. Think about the quality of video games – we’ve moved from what used to be expensive games that were very pixelated and with significant lag time, to insanely fast and photo-realistic image quality, and reduced costs that consumers are willing to pay to play. There are certainly parallels where VR/AR consumers may find that there isn’t enough high-quality content to justify the expense for individuals, but that is poised to change in the coming months. And in the meantime, businesses are finding that their ability to amortize those costs over marketing campaigns make the technology more viable for them than the average consumer.  


We can expect some pretty big innovations being released in the next couple of years – Goldman Sachs predicts that the market should reach $80 billion by 2025.






There will be integrations into current technology that will allow for VR/AR capabilities, as well as standalone devices similar to the Daydream Standalone VR headsets, which are targeted to begin shipping spring of this year. This VR headset doesn’t require a phone, PC or cables, which makes it the first of its kind in terms of mobile digital reality power.


Another barrier for consumer VR/AR right now is that there isn’t much content, but in the future, there are huge indicators for the amount of content that will be widely available, which will make digital reality much more attractive and useful for consumers.



 

Next, Goldman Sachs provided a by-industry breakdown of the market for the forecasted 2025 market prediction, showing the various levels of use for 9 different industries.  

Here, you can see the division of the digital reality market software-use into 9 industries:

  1. Video games ($11.6B)
  2. Healthcare ($5.1B)
  3. Engineering ($4.7B)
  4. Live events ($4.1B)
  5. Video entertainment ($3.2B)
  6. Real estate ($2.6B)
  7. Retail ($1.6B)
  8. Military ($1.4B)
  9. Education ($0.7B)

With real estate, engineering, and entertainment being the large industries at-play with digital reality technology at the moment, we can see that there’s still a lot of potential for the medium that hasn’t been discovered just yet.



Who are the Major Players Investing in Digital Reality?

Companies wouldn’t be all in unless they saw something with the potential to stay a long time. You know something is here to stay when the largest consumer tech companies in the world are investing heavily in it. Let’s take a look at some of the major technology moguls, and what they’ve been up to involving digital reality:



Google

They had already released their augmented reality glasses, called ‘Google Glass’, back in 2012, but unfortunately, it didn’t take off quite as expected. The idea was revolutionary, and I’m sure it’ll come back with a vengeance, but at the time, it wasn’t something that consumers could justify needing, and felt alien and cumbersome.


Since then, Google has invested $542 million dollars in 2014 to kick-off the ‘Magic Leap’, one of the first-to-market mixed reality headsets. Google also pioneered the Cardboard, an inexpensive VR headset that really democratized access to digital reality. When Google moves to get something into the hands of tens of thousands of customers, you can anticipate they are looking to make a major play in providing content services.


Sony

In 2014, Sony launched ‘Project Morpheus’, later renamed to be the PlayStation VR. In 2017, they shipped 429,000 PSVR’s in their first quarter, giving the company a 21.5% market share, and sold a total of 700,000 PS4 consoles, so the potential for their VR segment to grow is very much a possibility… and being the most affordable tethered VR option in the market right now definitely gives them a leg-up on their competition


HP

In 2014, they bought Aurasma 3.0, an augmented reality application which they acquired through autonomy.


Facebook

Famous for buying Oculus in 2014 for $2 billion, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at a conference in 2017 that he is setting a goal of getting 1 billion people using VR, which is about 13% of the world’s population –  that target number of VR users is estimated to be reached by 2020.


They’ve also recently shared that the Facebook platform now supports gITF2.0 file format, allowing for textures, lighting and realistic rendering through posts. Brands such as Clash of Clans, LEGO, Jurassic Park, and Wayfair are already ramping themselves up to use this feature to their advantage.






Another exciting possibility for the platform is their use as  VR social spaces for friends to interact and play games. Check out the live demo of the feature here!


Samsung

In 2014, Samsung revealed (in partnership with Oculus) their Samsung Gear VR, one of the most popular mobile VR headsets to hit the market. Selling almost 5 million headsets in 2017, they’re expecting to more than double their in 2018 to 10 million units shipped!


In 2017, they also acquired a company called VRB, who specialize in VR content creation, PLUS unveiled their 360-degree camera, which is one of the big content drivers for VR. We expect to see more developments from Samsung as the VR market grows.


Intel

In 2015, Intel had invested over $60 million in 15 VR/AR startup companies, raising to be $566 million by the end of 2017. Also, in September of 2017, Intel announced that they’ve invested over $1 billion in AI companies so we can prepare ourselves to witness some pretty cool technology coming from them sometime in the future.


Apple

Reportedly acquired Metaio, an AR software maker, and are now beginning to launch their platform, ARKit, which is an integration piece for apps that allow for augmented reality to best perform on their hardware.

Apple also got onboard with the same kind of software that made Snapchat so popular -They’ve acquired Faceshift, a facial recognition and animation company. Check out their ad here!



Disney

Led $65 million to be funded towards a VR content creating a startup called Jaunt.


Microsoft

Bought a company called Havok, which is a 3D physics engine used for video games.


Comcast and Time Warner

Participated in $30.5 million funding for NextVR, which captures live events in VR.





These companies are, as they say, “all in” on digital reality – which means that some huge developments are in the making, and coming to consumer shelves sooner than you think.

With this much activity in the market, do you still think that digital reality is just hype?




To find out more about implementing VR for your business, download our whitepaper which outlines the best implementations for ROI from digital reality – Or try VR on-for-size by signing up for a free Yulio account!

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

Have you ever drafted a design, presented it to a client, and had them tell you that they’re “just not seeing it”?




The design process can be daunting for many due to the many variables and project details that get conflated early in the design process. To clarify those, designers spend time and money trying to draft better visualizations of designs for clients to remove their worries and frustrations. The longer it takes to represent a design to a client and have a mutual understanding, the more time and money that is spent before the next phase can even begin.


Isn’t there an easier way? With over 200,000 views of Yulio VREs for our clients, we’ve identified the 4 ways that VR for designers can simplify the design process.



(1) VR for designers allows for better client-designer communication
Having clear and effective communication between yourself and your client is essential during the design process. Many people struggle to imagine concepts without a real tangible experience to pair with it. In the past, the dominant mediums used to create visualizations included sketching, both on paper and a computer-generated version, or a small-scale replica. These options, although previously effective in most cases, lack a real sense of scale, and are prone to misinterpretations which could lead to a longer design process for the project which is not time or cost efficient.

You can get on the same page with VR because it removes all ambiguity.  With virtual reality, you can show your design in true scale and detail directly to your client, which will leave no room for confusion. It’s a greater alignment of what you meant when you said “light and airy” and what the client thought that meant than still images or other tools. It helps give clients greater confidence that they understand your vision and helps them move to the next phase of decision making.





(2) The client will connect more with your design

Studies have shown that VR can deliver a 27% higher emotional engagement and 34% longer engagement than 2D content, so, by virtually transporting your client into your design, they will have a better sense of presence within the space and a stronger emotional response to the design. A study from Google Zoo also noted that “for study participants with busy personal or professional lives, [being in VR] offered a sensory-rich space to experience solitude and connect with a specific set of emotions.”


In addition, the stronger emotional connection that the client has with the design can also allow the designer to gauge the client’s reactions and feedback better than without the immersive experience. So the designer will have a sense of how satisfied the client is with the design right from the get-go through VR for designers.




(3) You’ll get immediate quality feedback

Clients will often want to see the end-product, meaning that they want to see as much detail as possible packed into the design so they can get an idea of what they’ll be receiving post-construction.


Although sketching, CAD programs, and small-scale models all show examples of the end-product, they’re limited because the client cannot picture the design details in a unified space and with actual scale for the project. VR creates a 1:1 scale representation of the clients investment, making it much simpler for them to provide genuine feedback right upon viewing. This leads to less reworking of the design drafts as well as less back and forth between the client and the designer.


In addition, following our last point, because the client will also be more emotionally engaged with the design, you will receive more honest and immediate feedback on what they love or hate, and what they want/need to be improved before continuing to the next phase of the project.



(4) Overall, it’s just more cost, time and ergonomically efficient

Previously, to be able to achieve the same, or similar effect of understanding for both parties, it would require a 1:1 scale replica build of the project – which is an extremely costly addition to a project (and just not logical depending on the project) – plus, if any changes needed to be made it would certainly lengthen this stage of the process. This option just doesn’t make sense to do in most cases anymore, especially when we have the practical technology ready to replace this practice.





Ok, let’s go over some facts. VR for designers:

  • Makes communication easy between both parties – If the client can see the exact design in real scale and detail, then they can discuss the design in more depth much easier than through other mediums.
  • Emotionally connects the client to the design more so than to something small-scale, 2D, or purely computer-generated – so feedback will be better and more meaningful towards the project
  • VR allows you to see exactly what is going to be built – VR representations show the client exactly what they’d be getting – there’s no room for misinterpretation, which leads to faster decision making (or a faster rework of the design for any alterations that need to be made).
  • VR is just straight up cooler than other mediums – Ok, we’re a little biased on this one – but you know what we mean… technology excites clients. In fact, 53% of people would prefer to buy from a company that uses VR over one that doesn’t.


VR for designers can save clients and artists a lot of back and forth, which can add up to be a lot of time (and money!) depending on the scale of the project. Designers that use VR from the get-go can test and weigh different options and design details while they’re developing the whole project while also being able to relay designs to their clients much sooner than conventional practices.




Ready to learn more about VR for designers? Check out our Whitepaper on the right way to integrate VR into your business for maximum ROI. And, if you’re ready to test out the problem-solving capabilities of VR, sign up for a free Yulio account.

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Business, Design, VR, Your Business + Virtual Reality

 

VR Education in the Next Generation
VR is intrinsically associated with the future. But what do you do when the future arrives? Or more specifically, when it’s applying for a job at your design firm. Job openings with the word “VR” in them have increased 4x since 2014 according to indeed.com and there are plenty of rumors about the tech giants hiring VR experts for undisclosed plans, from an increasing body of students with VR education.


Predicting Industry Trends with Students
But what about the practical, everyday version of VR used in business? Not the 3D coders and programmers, but those in the design, sales and marketing fields who are using VR as a new medium. There are a growing number of VR education classes and exhibits being put on by colleges and universities which recognize the role VR plays in business. And Yulio has been a partner of Ryerson University in Toronto for a few years – at Ryerson, architecture, and interior design students use Yulio as part of their core curriculum. Post-secondary institutions are a great place to see where the future is headed – with each generation lasting just four years, the career training trends make their way into the workforce fast. To understand where the industry is headed, look to its future practitioners and how they will approach design and problem-solving.

From the Mouths of A&D Students
Today we’re sharing what we’ve learned from students using Yulio about how they see the future of VR.We recently conducted a survey with a group of architectural design students who were exposed to VR education during the very first year of their program. We were interested to understand directly from the designer’s fingertips, what the next generation of architects found most useful about working with VR, where they saw its primary values and how they saw its future in their industry.

Students May Lead Adoption
Once familiar with the technology, the majority of students saw it as a logical part of the development and communication of their design work with over 80% saying they were (at least) very likely to use VR on future design projects and 100% believing it was likely other design students would want to use the technology. Their VR education will follow these students into the field.


 

The idea that the next generation of A&D professionals are championing the introduction of VR in firms they join after graduation was borne out in a recent conversation with 30-person architectural practice ALSC Architects based in Spokane, Washington. ALSC had been introduced to VR by its newest and youngest employee and was then adopted and implemented into company operations by its senior team. For them, the communication of project design iterations to clients via VR was found to inspire higher levels of client feedback and collaboration which it was felt led to the firm delivering better overall designs.

Refining design habits
77% of respondents believe A&D professionals will be very open to using VR in their workflows. It was felt that VR exercised an additional set of muscles, forcing designers to pay greater attention to the impact of floor and ceiling treatments which become a more integral part of a design when viewed in 360 degrees. Designers also felt that working in VR led to them having a greater sensitivity as to how light and shadows will play within an environment and generally inspired a closer attention to detail. Long established designers we talk to sometimes believe they don’t need VR to check or collaborate on their own work, and that it’s more of a client communication tool. But we’ve seen examples where designers have said that without VR, they simply wouldn’t have noticed an issue. Nvidia, for example (a California tech design company), was designing a new office space with plenty of skylights to take advantage of natural light. But when they looked at in VR, the resulting flow of light from above would clearly have been a problem for web developers experiencing glare on their computer monitors. They removed more than half of the skylights from the design before breaking ground – saving money on the install and a fix for the problem it would cause later on…all because of VR. That VR “check” represents a shift in design. While designers used to set a window onto a scene, control is now more with the viewer – the client who immediately looks up and sees a blank space where a ceiling treatment should be will be disappointed that designers didn’t fill in all the gaps. Consider ceilings, floors, lighting, and height when designing in VR. See this post for more of our tips on transitioning from 2D to VR – some of which came from seeing the common mistakes our student users made in their first designs, and which using VR in their practice is teaching them to avoid.

Creating shared vision
When asked how receptive they believed the general public would be to having design work communicated to them via VR 95% of respondents said they thought people would be very receptive. This sense of ending the “I just can’t see it” comment from clients is, unsurprisingly, one of the biggest drivers of VR adoption in the A&D space. Sharing a window into a design vision where the client can be immersed in the space helps firms communicate ideas and get faster revision and sign off, but also gives firms confidence that what they are building will match what their clients want. ALSC in Washington commented that using VR gives clients enough confidence to ask questions and feedback, and thus push the design concept further with better collaboration. A generation of students who are accustomed to sharing an unambiguous vision in VR will be entering the workforce and pushing the boundaries of VR client communication. Much like there have been generational shifts where the use of computers, the internet, smartphones, etc have become new norms in business, in almost every case, the survey responses indicate the next generation of architecture students are seeing VR not as a new or emerging technology but as an integral tool for their craft. Check out our infographic for more details on what our students uncovered with VR:



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Business, How to, Technical, VR, Your Business + Virtual Reality
Virtual reality in any format, be it full tethered rig VR (like Oculus Rift)  or mobile VR headsets (such as Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear VR), has a few key jobs it can perform for your business: sharing your vision, accelerating your sales pipeline, adding new lead generation channels or helping your clients make better, quicker decisions.   If you’re ready to bring virtual reality to your business, your success will depend on a few key things:  

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


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


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


Tethered Headsets

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


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

Mobile VR

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


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



At Yulio we’ve made our bets on mobile VR for its flexibility, portability and greater comfort of use and training…while still being able to immerse people in a totally new environment, quickly, easily, and wherever they are.   Whether it be used to deliver A&D portfolio presentations, ‘Try before you buy’ product demos, virtual property tours or to put potential donors directly ‘into’ an environment being highlighted by a non-profit, VR’s ability to engage people with emotional connection to an idea, an environment, a product or a cause is its real power. For more on integrating mobile VR into your workflow, check out our whitepaper and a recent article on sharing information through other media in VR, like audio, video, and text.
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