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AppReal CEO and co-founder, Yariv Levski, was recently interviewed by Tyler Wagner on Business Blast Podcast.

TW: Alright everyone, welcome back to another episode of the Business Blast Podcast. I’m your host, Tyler Wagner. Today, I have Yariv Levski with us. He is the CEO and co-founder of AppReal-VR. So, welcome to the show.

YL: Thanks, Tyler. Thanks for having me.

TW: Of course. Thanks for joining us. We’ll dive right in.

The first question I have for you today is, what is the best story from your life that has an underlying valuable message?

YL: I think being an Ironman. I’m not really an asset, I’m not fast, I’m not strong, and most of the people will beat me in the 100-meter race. The only reason I am an Ironman is because I am determined.

And I think life is like a long race. If you will attempt to win the short distance, you might lose; it’s all about the long run. So, I think being able to race and finish an Ironman competition, I had to fight many things like injuries, doubt, mentalities, and fear. But I had to stay focused on the final goal, exactly like real life.

Yariv Levski after completing an Ironman competition.
Photo from a private album.

Being an Ironmen, you know, taught me a lot about entrepreneurship — the need to build the plan while you know you that you will face challenges that you didn’t plan before. So you need to ask yourself every time, ‘will it serve my goal, will it help me in reaching my goal or not. So for me, being able to become and Ironman means that everything is possible.

TW: Yes, yes! And what is the most valuable piece of information we should know that is within your expertise or industry?

YL: You know, I work within VR and AR. I think people who work in development — games, applications, whatever — they need to stay “platform agnostic”. No matter which platform you aim for, whether it is HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Gear VR, Daydream, now Oculus Go, etc.

You never know what the future holds, you don’t know which device will be launched next. So in order to launch a product that will be useful even in six or twelve months, you need to be “platform agnostic”.

TW: Yes. And what is your best piece of overall business advice, not necessarily industry specific?

YL: So it might be the opposite from what is being taught in business school, but I think sometimes you get to ninety-five and you try to get to one-hundred. And everyone thinks one-hundred is a must. But if you think about it, the economic cost to improve from ninety-five to one-hundred is not necessarily worth the price. Whether it is money, months of development, or anything else — it’s good to be an optimizer. You should not always aim for one-hundred; ninety-five might be good enough.

TW: And if you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

YL: I would say, enjoy the ride, don’t be afraid to take risks. I opened my first company at the age of 41. I could have done it ten years earlier.

TW: In your opinion, what is the key to happiness?

YL: I’m not sure I have this answer! Let me know when you find it!

TW: I will.

YL: I think the best thing to do is just work at what you like, and you never feel that you are working, you know?

TW: And what is the best book you have read, and what is the number-one thing that you learned from that?

YL: The best book that I read is not science, it is based on a historical story. It is about Ernest Shackleton. He was a polar explorer. He lead like three British expeditions to the Antarctic. He was trying to cross Antarctica from sea to sea.

Ernest Shackleton
Source: Express.co.uk

The ship was called Endurance and it was trapped between ice and was slowly crushing. He had, I don’t know, maybe a couple of tens of people on board. After the ship had collapsed, still they managed to cross seven-hundred miles with only rowing boats. They arrived at a place called Elephant Island. So what, for me that was really, really fascinating beside than the story itself, is that they faced many, many challenges, but Shackleton — the Captain — managed to keep the motivation of the team. No one lost faith. With this huge adventure and the challenge, no one died. He lost no one. So I think the team spirit is very, very important when you are facing challenges.

TW: And what is your favorite quote, and why?

YL: One of my favorite quotes is, ‘a ship is safe in the harbor, but that is not what a ship is built for’.

TW: Yes. I actually love that quote, by the way. And thank you so much for coming on. The last question I have for you before I let you go is, where is the best place for people to find you online?

YL: I think LinkedIn — ‘Yariv Levski’.

TW: Perfect. Thank you, again, for joining us. We appreciate it.

YL: Thanks, Tyler.

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The global virtual reality market is on track to generate $26.89 billion in revenue by 2022. Considering that 2016 earnings barely topped $2 billion, the growth trend is encouraging, to say the least. Also encouraging are the VR market trends that show how virtual reality technology is maturing. From VR video to treating dementia, it appears that mainstream adoption is on the way.

In this post, we look at seven virtual reality trends that will help to shape this nascent market in the year ahead.

1.  360 VR Video

Attempt to define VR, and you quickly find that it is a moving target. If not moving, at least expanding. As VR encroaches upon more and more areas of our lives, yesterday’s definition frequently falls short of explaining what VR has become.

The Future of Video

360 video falls into the periphery of what VR was once thought to be. Computer graphics are minimal, the user’s ability to affect the outcome of the VR experience is limited, and interaction with other users doesn’t happen—at least not yet. But it turns video into an immersive experience, and gives us a taste of what movies will likely be like in the not-too-distant future.

360 degree video records the scene using multiple cameras embedded into a single device, providing an exciting new way to view content. Rather than being limited to watching the scene from a single perspective, 360 video allows you to pan around and see everything within a 360 degree radius, and to even look straight up or down. Many 360 videos are already available on Youtube, but VR video can be hosted on a number of platforms.

How to shoot VR videos with the Vuze camera - YouTube

Viewing 360 Video

Viewing technology for VR videos is still in its infancy. For now, native Youtube videos can be viewed on VR headsets only by using an app. Apps are available from 3rd-party vendors, and Youtube offers one of their own. A great advantage of 360 video is that content may be also be viewed on desktop computers, smartphones, and tablets. Simply by moving the device, or scrolling the screen, you can change your viewing perspective of the scene.

More VR Video on the Way

Entertainment creators are busy at work, creating an ever-expanding library of movies, documentaries, and even live events for VR video. 2018 will see both commercial 360 video content, and DIY 360 content creation solutions, at affordable price points.

2.  VR Content

A recent market research report identifies the huge growth potential of the VR content market. According to the report, the VR market is in the midst of a surge in demand, driving market value from $147.5 million in 2015 to $41 billion by 2024.

Stepping up to meet that demand is an increasing list of providers.

Mainstream VR Content Providers

The most user-friendly VR content is showing up on Youtube, where 360 videos can be viewed on desktop, tablets, or smartphones. Youtube host a growing library of 360 content, created by both amateurs and professionals.

Like Youtube, Facebook 360 provides a free platform for users to share VR content. A diverse range of VR content is available, and Facebook strives to make all content easily accessible through its own Oculus Rift, or through Samsung’s Gear VR. We will discuss how Facebook handles VR content in a moment.

You may not have heard of Littlestar, but here you will find a growing library of generic VR content, including documentaries, music, movies, sports, and gaming, to name a few.

Hollywood VR

Protozoa Pictures, the production company responsible for Black Swan, made history at the 2018 Sundance festival when CityLights acquired the company’s 3-part VR series, Spheres. While the exact figure remains secret, the purchase price is said to extend into 7 digits. Not bad for a medium that has never gotten much traction at Sundance. The move signals CityLights’ intention to enter the emerging VR market with professionally-produced content. After a 7-figure throw-down, we expect to see great things from CityLights in the year to come.

VR Gaming

VR Gaming is poised to be the next great thing in the computer gaming industry, and 2018 will see a serious focus on VR gaming from a variety of developers.

Weather you talk about VRMMORPG or a simple shoot ‘em up that grosses $1 million per year, where there are games to be played, there is money to be paid.

Gaming company Valve has signaled its intent to create its own VR games. According to PCGamer, Valve has expressed its commitment to enter the VR game market, and is reportedly working on three titles of its own. Whether we see the first of them in 2018 remains to be seen, but their announcement definitely proves that the big boys are getting into VR.

Neat Corporation has indicated that Budget Cuts is nearly ready for release, and that they are “super happy” with it. Like many Neat games, Budget Cuts is a quality single-player game with enough challenges to make it thrilling, but without the over-complexity some games present. In this VR game, you explore a facility riddled with robots, and you simply kill them any way you can. The soon release of the title is further evidence that VR game development is hot.

BUDGET CUTS - Virtual Reality Spy Game - YouTube

Live Sports

Turner Sports and Intel repeat last year’s success providing NBA games to fans through the medium of virtual reality. Select games from Marquee NBA and TNT Matchups are being offered through the 2018 Conference Finals.

Fans have two options for experiencing games in VR: NBA League Pass, or NBA on TNT VR. By purchasing the NBA League Pass, fans can experience the games in full VR using the Samsung Gear VR, Google Daydream View, PlayStation VR, or the Windows Mixed Reality viewer. Season passes range from $6.99 for a single game to $39.99 for access to all select games. NBA on TNT VR offers free access using the Gear VR and Daydream View, but the user must authenticate themselves through their cable subscriber credentials.

Across the pond, the Sydney Sixers, BMW, and Catalyst VR partnered last year to offer cricket fans a 360-degree experience. In 2018, they continue the program, allowing fans to experience the game from the view the batter would have as they faced the bowl.

These two examples represent how VR is being embraced by national sports leagues, and by individual teams. As spring and summer bring sports back into the lives of fans across the globe, VR will increasingly be there to put fans on the field and on the court.

3.  Social VR

Like the perfect couple, social media and VR were meant to be together. And several companies are working hard to see that the marriage happens in 2018.

Facebook VR

Facebook is aggressively developing interactive VR features for its social media platform. The platform offers an increasing array of VR tools designed to help make VR mainstream. Among the current capabilities offered, FB allows users to meet friends in

an immersive environment where images and 3D objects can be shared, and where users can see each other and converse as if in person. Using the 360 photo feature, users can share panoramic photos with others, using only their smartphone. For those who like to create their own environments, Facebook allows you to draw objects within virtual 3D environments. Users can also create and share 3D objects through News Feed.

VRChat

VRChat reflects the trend toward social VR with its VR-centric social platform. Users have a host of tools they can use to customize their VR experience, including creating full-body avatars and using hand gestures. Eye tracking and lip syncing are fine-tuned to help make interaction as natural as possible. VRChat has entire VR worlds awaiting users, or users can create their own.

VRChat in a nutshell 7 - YouTube

4.  VR in Automotive Sales

Americans and Europeans love our automobiles. For many, vehicle ownership is about more than having transportation, it is about the experience that comes from driving a well-designed car, truck, or SUV. Virtual reality offers potential buyers the opportunity to explore the newest models within a 3D immersive experience, even if the particular model is not yet on the showroom floor.

Lexus VR Campaign

Lexus kicked off 2018 by partnering with Los Angeles branding agency Team One to create a VR marketing campaign. While reminding car buyers that VR can’t replace the thrill of a real test drive, Lexus brilliantly uses VR to wet buyers’ appetite.

Themed “Virtual to Reality,” the campaign allows buyers to have an immersive experience with the entire lineup of Lexus vehicles, using a custom-designed VR simulator.

Other automakers are also turning to VR to market their vehicles, and we expect to see the trend toward VR showrooms continue throughout 2018. As VR technology is improved, utilization by the automotive industry will only increase.

5.  Full Dive Getting Closer

Full Dive VR — an immersive experience so realistic that one can not separate it from true reality. Although we are not there yet, such virtual experiences remain the holy grail of VR. The ability to involve all five senses in an artificial reality holds promise not only for gamers, but also for the disabled, whose limitations may prevent them from enjoying the rich experiences that are commonplace to the rest of us. Those suffering from chronic pain would, perhaps, find relief in a simulated world, where pain is non-existent. Even those suffering from extreme psychological stress might find a temporary escape in an environment of their own choosing.

True Full Dive will almost certainly involve a Brain-Computer Interface (BCI), where simulated sensory input to the brain will circumvent input from the body’s five senses. Even so, the journey from here to there must begin somewhere.

Fortunately, a growing number of companies and research institutions are hard at work laying the foundation upon which Full Dive will eventually be built.

Here and Now

Sensiks is taking a practical approach, with its Sensory Reality Pod (SRP). The SRP creates an enhanced VR experience by providing artificial stimulus of all five senses. By providing, for example, heat and synthetic odors, your immersive experience in a tropical forest can be augmented with the warmth of the sun and the smell of trees and foliage. Full Dive it is not, but the simulator monitors the user’s vitals and adjusts the stimulation accordingly. Until someone develops a VR-capable SRP, Sensiks offers the next best thing.

SENSIKS. Sensory Reality Pods. - YouTube

Exciting Advances

Closer to the heart of Full Dive is the research being done by Elon Musk’s company, Neuralink. The company’s goal is nothing short of creating technology that actually bridges the gap between computers and the human brain.

Of course, the Full Dive experience we hope for will not require temperature controller or bain implants. But at least 2018 will be the year when building blocks of FDVR are laid down.

6.  Expanded VR Applications in Healthcare

The healthcare industry was an early adopter of VR when most industries were still on the sidelines. In recent years, VR has found applications in medical training, treatment of PTSD, and even live surgeries. Thanks to a recent partnership between Tribemix and Quantum Care, VR promises to provide some relief to sufferers of dementia.

ImmersiCare

The two companies have pooled their resources to create ImmersiCare, which creates VR experiences designed to calm dementia patients. By immersing dementia patients into a carefully-controlled VR experience, a 70% reduction in patient stress has already been observed.

From dementia to high blood pressure to pain management, the year ahead will be marked by increased applications of VR in the healthcare industry.

Tribemix Dementia Virtual Reality Project - BBC Worldwide - YouTube

7.  Cross-Platform Expansion

Two barriers to mainstream adoption of VR are the age-old issues of compatibility and distribution. Several companies see the market opportunity, here, including WebVR and Jaunt.

WebVR

WebVR started out as JavaScript API that allowed developers to distribute VR content through standard web browsers. To accommodate the growing popularity of AR, the organization will soon morph into WebXR, a platform for distributing both VR and AR content using standard browsers. Developers will even be able to render one format over the other based on visitor needs, and through a single web page.

Jaunt

Jaunt has partnered with brands such as Disney, Fox, FX, and ABC News to deliver a wide range of VR content. The platform-independent service provides a high-quality distribution platform for content creators, and allows users to both create and distribute VR content without regard to compatibility concerns.

With VR gaining a foothold on a diverse range of platforms, providing a frictionless VR experience will be the goal of major providers in the year ahead.

How Can AppReal-VR Help?

VR is only now coming into its prime. As scoffers fade into the background, and practical applications capture market dollars, investment and innovation in VR technology will be strong throughout 2018.

Whether your organization is shaped by advances in VR, or drives them, comes down to one thing: who will you partner with to get the technology you need to impact the market?

AppReal-VR offers world-class outsource VR solutions to companies around the globe. We are experts in all phases of VR technology. With six R&D labs situated across Europe, we have the capability in house to take your project from concept to market.

Why not contact us today for a no-cost consultation?

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Mental illness affects one in four people across the world, making it one of the most pressing issues of our day. The prevalence of wars, economic instability, social tensions, and instances of random violence across the globe have pushed many past the point where they can cope effectively. For those who seek therapeutic solutions to restore their emotional wellbeing, virtual reality therapy offers new hope.

Even the American Psychological Association (APA) has determined VR “particularly well suited to exposure therapy”, dispelling whatever doubt or criticisms may be looming.

A solid understanding of VR therapy is crucial for mental health care providers, if they are to deliver the most effective treatments available, today. In this article, we will explore this emerging field, and see a few examples of how VR technology is already establishing itself as the most effective therapeutic tool to come along in decades.

But first, let’s look closer at how virtual reality works.

What is Virtual Reality Therapy? VR Therapy Basics

As the therapeutic application of virtual reality technology evolves, so will the ways it can be used to treat certain psychological disorders. For now, VR headsets and immersive software are being used primarily for the treatment of anxiety disorders using a technique knowns as Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET).

Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy
Bravemind Project

Like conventional anxiety-treatment methods, VRET works by exposing patients to their anxiety triggers within a controlled environment. As with any exposure therapy, the objective is to condition patients to respond positively to events that bring about their particular anxiety, rather than experiencing physiological stress associated with the original trauma that caused their anxiety disorder. However, the immersive and interactive power of VR offers numerous benefits beyond conventional treatment methods:

  • VR technology enables mental health practitioners to design highly individualized treatment plans based on the unique needs of their patients.
  • VRET is superior to conventional treatment methods in allowing patients greater control over their own exposure. Virtual reality experiences can be designed to be highly interactive, allowing patients to maintain a sense of control even as they experience anxiety triggers.
  • VRET offers a drug-free method of reducing trauma-related anxiety.
  • A well-designed VR treatment program can offer improved cost-effectiveness over conventional treatment programs.
  • The immersive power of VR provides a more engaging and more authentic experience, which results in greater effectiveness.
  • Unlike conventional anxiety-treatment programs, VR apps empower patients to continue their own treatment at home, which significantly increases the long-term effectiveness of the treatment.

VR therapy will not in all cases replace conventional treatment methods. But even as an adjunct therapy, it offers exciting advantages over standard treatments, alone.

Full Sensory VR Therapy

VRET can do more than provide visual simulations of scenes that trigger patients’ anxiety. Although the immersive aspect of VR, alone, is a powerful tool, more elements can be added to a treatment program to reduce its duration and improve its long-term effectiveness.

In addition to life-like three-dimensional graphics, VRET can expose the patient to a number of stimuli that simulate the user’s real-life anxiety triggers. Depending on the hardware used, various combinations of the following triggers can be produced:

  • Sounds
  • Tactile sensations
  • Smells
  • Wind
  • Temperature extremes
  • Acoustic effects
  • Tilting/dropping
  • Moisture or rain

Sensiks delivers a VR experience for all 5 senses | SXSW 2017 - YouTube

For example, treatment of battlefield PTSD can not only submerge the patient in an authentic 360-degree battlefield. It can also simulate the smell and heat of artillery fire, along with simulated acoustic shockwaves as enemy artillery “explodes” near the patient. No other technology or therapy method can match the realism VR offers.

Of course, therapists monitor the patient’s heart rate, respiration, and other vital signs during treatment. If the patient becomes too anxious during the session, the therapist can cut the session short, or modify the exposure scenes.

Advanced treatment systems will eventually monitor the user’s physiological response and tailor the VR session in real time to achieve the most optimum result. Actually, the technology exists, now, to support such treatment programs. All that is needed is for developers to innovate in this crucial area.

Dell, for one, is providing a $100,000 grant for the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies. UCLA will use the grant to advance itss virtual reality exposure therapy prototype, called Bravemind. The prototype focuses specifically on treating war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress symptoms.

Disorders Treated By VR Therapy

Virtual reality exposure therapy for PTSD is one of the most common uses of VR in the therapy industry, but many other applications also exist. Through careful program design and some creative technical innovation, VR can be used to treat a wide variety of phobias and disorders. Here is a partial list of those:

  • Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD)
  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Agoraphobia (fear of places, especially public places)
  • Acrophobia (fear of heights)
  • Arachnophobia (fear of spiders)
  • Pteromerhanophobia (fear of flying)
  • Glossophobia (fear of public speaking)
  • Panic attacks
  • Sleep disorders
  • Autism
  • Pain management
  • Stage fright
  • Mood disorders
  • Addictive behaviors

The list of phobias and other disorders numbers in the hundreds. Fortunately, VR can effectively treat the majority of these economically and effectively.

As professionals learn to use virtual reality therapy for phobias, anxiety disorders, mood disorders, pain management, and other patient needs, the technology will mature to include even more effective solutions.

VR Therapy Solutions

The prevalence of emotional and psychological disorders has created a wide and deep market for products that promise improved results, including VR technology. Here are some examples of apps and professional platforms that provide VR therapeutic solutions.

Examples of Clinical VR Therapy

Here are a couple of examples of VR therapy being used by large-scale medical facilities.

Cedars-Sinai, an early adopter of VR technology for healthcare, has partnered with a Los Angeles technology provider to develop VR-based therapeutic solutions for the hospital’s patients. The project focus is on helping patients who suffer from anxiety disorders, and those who need assistance with pain management. In one study, patients reported a 24% drop in pain scores after using the therapy.

Virtual Reality | Cedars-Sinai - YouTube

Duke Psychiatry and behavioral Sciences offers VR therapy for those afraid of heights, elevators, thunderstorms, flying, and who harbor fears of public speaking. Duke, a world-renown hospital and medical research center, provides the therapy within the therapists offices.

VR Therapy Apps

VR offers a tremendous advantage over conventional treatment methods — mobility. Not only can patients benefit from self-guided treatments outside the clinic, but persons who may have not sought professional assistance might find relief in one of the many therapy apps on the market. Here are just a few:

Arachnophobia

Arachnophobia offers self-guided exposure therapy for those who have an irrational of spiders. With five levels of exposure, the user is exposed to an increasing number of spiders in the room. As if that were not enough of a stresser, you are not allowed to move your hands or arms during the session. Over time, you can condition yourself to spiders being near you — without your fight or flight response kicking in and causing you to scurry frantically in search of the nearest shoe.

Arachnophobia - YouTube

Fear of Heights

A large percentage of the population experiences a fear of heights. From mild dizziness when looking out of a second-story window to full panic when riding an escalator, most of those who suffer would try anything to avoid triggering their anxiety.

Richie’s Plank Experience places you on a plank, 80 stories above ground. You are encouraged to use a physical plank for added immersion. For those who might be afraid of both heights and spiders, you can elect to have spiders waiting at the end of your plank.

Richie's Plank Experience New Trailer - YouTube

Samsung offers two 360-video apps designed to help users overcome the fear of heights. CityScapes and Landscapes allow users to experience an elevator, skywalk,  virtually created tower, cliff driving, heli-skiing, and crossing a suspension bridge — all using 360-degree video.

Fear of Public Speaking

The fear of public speaking grips businessmen and women, authors, and even celebrities. Limelight gives you the option of appearing in a business meeting, small classroom or in a large hall as you give a speech. You can select audience size, and even adjust the mood of the audience.

Relaxation

For many people, simply being able to relax is the one of the greatest challenges. Deep encourages a sense of tranquility by placing the user in a serene underwater world where stress, anxiety, and depression can melt away.

Designed for the HTC Vive, Samsung Gear VR, and Oculus Rift, Guided Meditation VR gives the user a choice of peaceful environments from around the world, from a lush rainforest to a Japanese temple, in which to relax and recharge.

Relax VR is an iPhone app that allows the user to enjoy a wide range of calming visual and sound experiences, including the beach, ocean, wind, waves, streams, crickets, and more. Experiences are set in one of ten locations, from Wineglass Bay, Australia, to a tropical Beach in the Philippines.

Rest & Relax in Virtual Reality with Guided Meditation VR - YouTube

Sleeping

Created by Virtually Better, Inc., Relax Soothe Sleep: The Nap App is designed to help children deal with sleep disorders. Through a series of fun lessons, videos, and exercises, the child learns ways to prepare for a good night’s sleep. A parent section allows the parent to track their child’s progress.

VR Therapy Platforms

While few professional therapists might be willing to admit that VR could disrupt their industry, that hasn’t stopped them from adopting it. The following is but a short list of VR therapy platforms utilized by professionals to help treat their patients.

Applied VR provides clinicians with the VR hardware and training to use VR in the treatment of anxiety, and for pain management. The subscription-based service includes 20+ content modules for treating a variety of patient needs.

Limbix helps practitioners to treat patients suffering from anxiety, phobias, and who need pain management techniques. Real-world footage is incorporated into 306-degree videos designed to help patients deal with the challenges they face.

Psious offers more than exposure therapy experiences, it provides a variety of reports, graphs, and other aids to help monitor patient progress.

Verapy provides the platform, VR viewer, and software needed to treat patients with various disorders and rehabilitation needs. A complete set of patient tracking and data analysis tools are included.

Even though apps may help certain individuals in self-guided therapy, they should never be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.

How Can Appeal-VR Help?

Virtual reality offers relief for hundreds of thousands who suffer from anxiety disorders and who need help with non-narcotic pain management. VR therapy has already proven its value in treating patients who do not respond to conventional therapy, and in augmenting conventional treatment programs. Furthermore, collaborations between technology providers, insurance companies, and healthcare providers ensure that technological and financial investment resources will be there to grow this important market.

But where do you stand? Are you prepared to transform the psychotherapy industry, or will you watch as others turn your ideas into profitable solutions?

If you are ready to turn you concept into a marketable VR therapy product, we invite you to partner with AppReal-VR. We bring innovative solutions to companies around the world, and we specialize in VR and AR technology. Our world-class developers are experts in VR platforms, mobile app development, and in creating feature-rich solutions that are also scalable and robust.

Why not contact us today for a no-cost consultation?

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The VR travel industry may be in its infancy, but if you expect to see baby steps leading to market adoption, think again. Digital travel sales are expected to reach $198 billion this year, with virtual reality travel apps and VR tours capturing a good share of market revenue.

Of course, this should come as no surprise. Consumers increasingly turn to digital media when planning aspects of their lives, from recreational activities to retirement. Because VR has the power to engage travelers like no other technology can do, it is a natural step in the evolution of the travel industry. It is also likely to disrupt travel planning as we know it.

In this article, we will explore VR travel technology, and what it means for business in 2018.

Business Potential of VR Tourism

The VR travel experience offers business the power to engage and entice potential customers like no glossy travel brochure ever could. VR immerses the prospective travel customer into a 3D interactive experience, where they can explore their travel destination before ever buying a ticket. It’s one thing to show an undecided traveler a photo or video of Rome; letting them walk through a cobblestone village and explore the outdoor cafes is another thing entirely.

VR is, quite simply, the most effective promotional or advertising tool an agent can have at their disposal. Allowing customers to not only experience the beaches of Maui, but to have a 360-degree video tour of their hotel can convert prospects into bookings quicker than anything.

The ROI for VR technology in the travel industry is as no-brainer as you can get. Any business plan for a travel or tourism business that does not include VR is out of step with where the travel industry is headed.

VR Travel Apps and Videos

The inherent power of virtual reality technology to spark the imagination is capturing the attention of hotels, airlines, travel agencies, and even Third World governments. Let’s look at few and see how they are using VR to boost their travel and tourism industries.

1. Best Western Virtual Reality Experience (BWVRE)

The Best Western hotel chain believes that customers are more likely to book a hotel if they can visit it first. Using 360 virtual tours, hosted on the company’s YouTube channel, bestwesternTV, the hospitality chain invites customers to an interactive 3D tour of select hotels across the United States. Users can view guest rooms, the lobby, and amenities as if they were actually there. The BWVRE experience is rendered in high-definition 8K resolution, and videos can be distributed on any HTML5-compatible platform.

Best Western Valdez Harbor Inn 360 VR - YouTube

Best Western partnered with Google Street View to gather 17 million images of the company’s nearly 2,000 U.S. hotels.

2. The Sky’s the Limit with Qantas Airline VR

Qantas Airways partnered with Samsung to allow customers to explore hotspot destinations, and to even watch in-flight movies using the Gear VR headset. On the heels of the successful trial program, Qantas now offers the Qantas Virtual Reality app, designed to let users experience the beauty of Australia in VR. The app is available for iPhone, Android, Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive devices, and offers an interactive 360° cinematic view of Australia’s most picturesque destinations.

Visit Hamilton Island in 360˚ Virtual Reality with Qantas - YouTube

In a sense, the Qantas approach is brilliant. What better way to sell future airline tickets than to introduce a captive audience (inflight passengers) to future destinations they might want to explore? As new destinations are added, passenger interest will likely soar.

3. Delaware

Even locales that may not be vacation hotspots are using VR to lure visitors. The American state of Delaware has launched a 360-degree VR video that allows viewers to canoe through Trap Pond State Park, to take a leisurely stroll along the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk, and to explore other attractions. The video, created by the state tourism office, is not the best example of what VR can offer the travel industry, but it is a great example of a local destination embracing VR to grow its own tourism industry.

4. Dulwich Picture Gallery

Built in 1811, England’s Dulwich Picture Gallery demonstrates how to use VR in both app form and online for giving virtual tours. The gallery uses the Google Arts & Culture platform for delivering the tour. Thanks to VR, potential customers can view a portion of the gallery’s huge collection before arriving, which increases ticket sales and customer satisfaction.

Dulwich Picture Gallery 360° Virtual Tour - YouTube

5. LittlStar

LlittlStar provides a distribution platforms for interactive content, and is used by Discovery VR, National Geographic, news outlets, and a large number of independent content creators.

The platform hosts interactive, high-quality 360-degree videos of Yellowstone National Park, Maui (Hawaii), picturesque Thailand, and offers a virtual guided tour of Paris and Eiffel Tower, to name a few.

LittlStar is an example of how VR tours can be distributed, and is an excellent platform for posting your VR travel videos.

Littlstar Sizzle - YouTube

6. YouVisit

Similar to LittlStar, YouVisit is an enormously popular platform for creation and distribution of 360-degree videos. The company targets high-end clients, and sells both 360 video production and hosting services. YouVisit is utilized by hotspots around the world to provide interactive videos to lure tourists to their location. Among the locations you can explore include Hollywood, Yosemite Falls National Park, Houston, and a tour of the Carnival Breeze cruise ship.

Visit Houston: A 360° Virtual Visit - YouTube

7. Thomas Cook

Thomas Cook has provided travel and tourism services for more than 170 years. The company has adopted VR technology and Samsung Gear VR to allow customers to “Try Before Your Fly” when visiting the agency’s stores.

And the result? The company has experienced a 190% increase in New York bookings since launching the program.

8. Ascape

Ascape is an online platform that offers apps for viewing hundreds of locations in 360 video. A partial list of available destinations includes a trip to the Grand Canyon, an African Safari, Christmas in New York City, and Snowboarding at Chamrousse, France. Users make in-app purchases of destinations at $0.99 each.

Ascape allows users to share their destination on FaceBook, and offers maps, history, and other information that may be useful to you on your trip.

You Are Here: San Francisco (360° VR video trailer) - YouTube

9. India VR

The Indian Ministry of Tourism has partnered with Google Arts & Culture to produce a 360-degree video showing India’s most iconic landmarks. The video allows viewers to enjoy an interactive tour of the temples of Hamphi, Delhi, the Qutub Minar tower, built in 1193, along with a cross-section of India.

The project represents an excellent example of a not-so-hot destination that is using VR to heat up its tourism industry.

10. Thailand Too

In a similar vein, Thailand’s Tourism Authority has just recently launched a VR video of its own to attract tourists to the Asian country. The video puts viewers ringside at a Thai boxing ring, lets you view the making of silk textiles, and lets you explore a Thai rice farm.

With countries like India and Thailand creating their own virtual reality travel industry, the time has come for more developed nations to do the same.

These examples show the advertising potential of travel VR. Although VR is not yet — nor ever will be — as good as the real thing, it offers hotels, airlines, resorts, and travel companies a marketing tool no other medium can match.

Applications for VR Use in the Travel Industry

We have seen a few of the tools VR provides for the travel agent and the traveler, now let us look at a few more sectors that stand to benefit from VR travel technology.

Airlines & Rail Companies

Giving customers the opportunity to take a virtual tour of an aircraft cabin or railcar is a good way to secure fast bookings. Giving a guided tour of the terminal or station can also help customers become oriented with the check-in and booking process before they arrive. Familiarization with shops, lounges, information desks, and security procedures can also help reduce customer anxiety for those who have not traveled before.

Destinations

VR tours are an excellent way to lure travelers to your destination, where yours is a popular hotspot, or a hidden gem. Whether you choose to have a customized VR app developed, or to add a 360 video player to your website, the long term ROI can be substantial.

Car Rental Companies

The car rental business is an integral part of the travel industry, but customers are not always happy with the vehicle they are provided. Using VR to display the agency’s fleet can help customers make a confident selection before they arrive.

Conference Centers & Exhibition Centers

Not all travel is for pleasure. Business travel comprises a huge part of the travel market. VR tours are an excellent way to help visitors become familiar with where they need to go within a conference or exhibition center complex. Adding guided virtual tours on the facility website can save visitors time and frustration getting to their conference or exhibit.

Restaurants

Nearly every travel plan includes seeking out the local cuisine. Including tours of  restaurants in VR travel guides can increase sales and help travelers have a more enjoyable experience while visiting your location.

Theaters, Sports Arenas, & Concert Halls

Any venu can benefit from providing customers with a virtual tour before arrival. Many customers travel great distances to see a performance or game, and exploring your facility before their trip can help them be better oriented when they arrive.

How AppReal-VR Can Help?

The VR tourism industry is a success story waiting to happen. The technology is here, the market is ready, all that is needed are the products that will bring the world to the traveler before the traveler sees the world. If providing the apps and platforms that will redefine the travel industry is your plan, we’d like you to meet your solution.

AppReal-VR is a leading provider of VR development services for customers across the globe. Our team of world-class developers, engineers, and content creators are experts in virtual reality technology.

Whether you’re looking to integrate VR into an existing advertising campaign, or you wish to create an application for promoting your travel destination, AppReal-VR has the experience to help you tap the lucrative VR travel market.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us, today, for a no-cost consultation.

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In 2015, the global B2B events industry was worth an incredible $29.3bn – and 2018 looks set to continue the trend of steady growth and increased investment for this vital and thriving market.

That’s good news for emerging technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality (MR). AR in particular is gaining popularity in the events industry, with innovative events professionals, brand managers, and planners employing it for a variety of reasons. Trade shows, exhibitions, conferences, and festivals all rely on customer engagement, entertainment, and education, and Augmented Reality applications can help deliver all of that, and more.

If you need a quick reminder, Augmented Reality adds real-time digital information, graphics, and video to the real world environment, typically via a smartphone, tablet, or headset device.

Stand Apart by Using Augmented Reality at Events

Being an exhibitor at a busy event is a little like being a peacock. You need to be noticed, and to achieve that aim, you need to spread your big, colourful feathers, and stand apart from the crowd.

The overarching objective of using Augmented Reality for events is to differentiate your brand and your offering from the competition. Of course, beyond that primary goal, there are a range of other event goals worth pursuing by using AR. These include increasing sales, implementing product and service showcases, and enhancing event engagement.

And the good news is, events professionals now have a selection of Augmented Reality technology from which to choose when attempting to meet their goals.

Types of AR:
  • Device-based AR – The simplest way to employ and enjoy Augmented Reality, device-based AR is simply a smartphone or tablet device used to interact with AR content. The most obvious example of this type of AR is Pokémon GO, but with the introduction of ARKit and ARCore on iOS and Android devices respectively, we’ll soon see a number of new and enhanced AR applications. This is easily the most accessible form of Augmented Reality, and perfect for the events industry.
  • Wearable AR – The now defunct Google Glass was an early example of wearable AR, while the HoloLens from Microsoft appears to be a viable alternative. In contrast with VR headsets, a wearable AR user will still see their immediate real-world environment, but with virtual elements overlaid. Wearable devices are typically the most immersive way to experience AR, as users can freely move their heads and use their hands.
  • Mirror AR – As the name suggests, this is a reflective surface upon which additional imagery or information is displayed. Mirror AR has been used in salons and clothing stores, allowing customers to view different hair and clothing styles without the need to change clothes or break out the clippers. In an event setting, mirror AR can help draw a crowd, offering a unique way to demonstrate products or entertain patrons.
  • Transparent AR – The newest and most advanced form of enjoying Augmented Reality, transparent AR looks like something ripped from the pages of science fiction. But it’s very much real, utilising a transparent LED or OLED display to create a virtual, three-dimensional environment. Groups can crowd around the display at all angles, without the need to wear headsets or use their phones, and experience an immersive product demonstration.
How to Use Augmented Reality Apps for Events

The list of reasons for using Augmented Reality applications in an event setting is an ever-expanding one. The potential is quite simply limitless. But to give you some food for thought, we’ve boiled it down to three of the best:

1. Seeing is Believing

Product demonstrations are part and parcel of trade shows and conferences. But for some industries, it can be difficult to wow a captive audience. Video will only go so far to capturing the imagination of attendees; exhibitors need something more engaging. Enter Augmented Reality.

Its interactive nature allows visitors to explore content and experience another level of understanding when viewing a product’s capabilities. For example, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, car manufacturer Ford used AR to allow visitors a look under the hood of three different vehicles. This gave car enthusiasts the chance to examine the technology that underpins the latest models.

Watch the video below to see it in all its glory.

Ford Augmented Reality at 2017 North American International Auto Show - YouTube

2. Drive Traffic to Your Pitch

The success of a trade show or exhibition is largely down to your ability to attract people to your booth, and keep them there long enough to listen to your pitch. You might try to entertain attendees with games loosely related to your product, offer hands-on demonstrations, or bribe them with food or drink. But one of the best ways of driving traffic is by using Augmented Reality. AR is still something of a novelty for many, and the magic has yet to wear off.

Take, for example, Pfister Faucets’ use of AR at KBIS 2017, the kitchen and bath industry’s largest trade show. They managed to make their product stand out in a room full of competing taps and pipes by offering something different.

See it in action below.

Pfister Faucets | Trade Show AR Experience - YouTube

3. Create a Bigger Buzz

Engagement is vitally important, and one of the metrics against which all successful events are measured. Augmented Reality can help boost engagement levels and create buzz on social media by encouraging attendees to interact with content and share the results.

To help promote internet safety, Smoothwall used AR to stop visitors to the BETT Trade Show in their tracks, before asking them to search for a dedicated hashtag to see their pictures online.

View the interactive booth below.

Smoothwall - Augmented Reality Animation Interactive Experiential Campaign at BETT Trade Show 2017 - YouTube

In Summary

Augmented Reality is still very much in its early stages, but its potential to impact the events industry is huge. Considering the current AR trends, it’s likely that exhibitions and trade shows will become less reliant on physical objects and video content when demonstrating products, which in turn could save events companies from transportation and setup costs.

And engagement levels are likely to increase, with events being gamified via AR applications, and traffic being driven by the latest and most innovative AR technology.

All in all, the future looks very bright for both the events industry and Augmented Reality.

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Virtual Reality is one if the hottest technology trends of 2018. Although gaming is probably the most popular commercial application of VR at the moment, VR has found fast and deep adoption in the fields of aviation and flight training, healthcare education, law enforcement and military training, and training tomorrow’s engineers.

Actually, to say VR is trending in education might be giving the technology too little credit. It is now entering the mass-adoption phase, where the terms “transformation” and even “disruption” describe its impact more accurately.

With online education and e-learning already moving into the mainstream, it seems logical that VR would be the next step in education advancement. And so it is.

Why VR in Education?

Industry experts forecast that the VR education market will will grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of more than 59% for the period of 2018 through 2022. Such market gain would be envious in any industry.

The reasons VR technology is being so well embraced by the educators and trainers are easy to see. Virtual training allows students to experience richer and more engaging learning experiences than can be provided through books, websites, or even videos. VR immerses the user in a 3D interactive experience that allows interactive learning in a controlled and safe environment, and does so at a fraction of the cost of real-life training. VR-based training can give soldiers the experience they need to operate anti-tank weapons without having to actually blow tanks up. It also saves in terms of human lives. Mistakes made in surgical training using VR simulations harm no one.

Application of Virtual Reality in Education

We touched upon a few examples of how virtual reality can be used to better facilitate education and training, now let us take a closer look and see some other applications for this exciting and powerful technology.

Firefighting

An American company, Flame Systems, is tapping the power of VR to make training firefighters safer and, in the long run, more cost effective. The VR simulator plunges students into a blazing kitchen, on scene at a propane tank leak, and at the sight of an aircraft fire. The computer-driven simulation even includes a mock firehose that exerts recoil pressure similar to the real thing.

Virtual Reality Firefighting trainer demonstration - YouTube

Driving

When you think of VR training you might not think of training drivers, but thank goodness someone did.

VR Motion provides VR-based training simulators designed to give drivers experience before they ever hit the road. The company began with a truck driving simulator, and now offers VR simulators that train commercial truck drivers and equipment operators, law enforcement officers, and teen drivers.

VR Motion Driver Training - YouTube

Grade School Education

VR is poised to transform how grade school students learn about the world they live in. Schools in the state of Utah are using the digital teaching tool Nearpod to educate students in an immersive environment. Rather than reading about WWI, the VR educational tool puts them smack in the middle of a WWI trench, lets them pilot a WWI plane, and gives them a virtual tour of the White House.

It is inevitable that the virtual classroom will be the classroom of tomorrow, possibly disrupting the academic book industry.

Corporate Training

Companies across a wide range of industries are utilizing the power of VR to train employees more effectively and in more cost-effective ways than were previously possible. Better retention, lower cost, risk-reduction, and time savings are all factors the corporate world considers when making business decisions. Increasingly, corporate trainers realize that VR-based training makes good business sense.

Walmart Virtual Reality in Academies - YouTube

VR Education Software and Hardware

The most successful educational experiences are ones that capture the attention of those being taught. By engaging with students on a visceral level, VR motivates them to learn, and improves content understanding and retention.

Thanks to a host of VR gear and software, educators and training institutions around the world can provide their students the benefits of virtual ed.

There are several VR headsets currently on the market, and even more coming on board as the technology matures and prices drop. Some headsets such as Oculus Rift  integrate smartphones as their VR screens, while others such as the HTC Vive have their own embedded screen and are powered by a PC.

Google Cardboard is a low-cost/no-cost example that also uses a smartphone as a screen, and, as its name implies, is actually made of cardboard. Designed specifically for school applications, it is featured for Google Expeditions, which presents teacher-led field trips to various locations.

Alchemy VR is a software package that originally marketed itself as the world’s first virtual communications coach, purporting to boost employee presentation and engagement skills. The company has evolved into a provider of rich VR content that combines technical innovations with creative storytelling.

Full Sail University, Florida, is using VR not to educate students, but to provide a virtual campus environment where online students can feel more a part of the class. Virtual classrooms enable distance-learning students to enjoy the social aspects of college without having to attend campus. Tools enable students to collaborate and interact in ways that blur the lines between on-campus and online experiences.

How AppReal-VR Can Help

Successful educational VR products don’t just happen. They are the result of developing on the bleeding edge of VR technology, where true innovation happens.

That’s where we come in.

AppReal-VR is a software company that specializes in virtual reality development and augmented reality development. Our team includes experienced specialists in the fields of precision 3D modeling and photorealistic design, gyro and accelerometer integration (for motion processing and interpretation), image processing and speech recognition – the core competencies that will drive custom VR solutions for education, training, and industry.

We are leading developers of AR and VR solutions that are innovative, scalable, and marketable. Why not contact us today for a no-cost consultation?

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Augmented Reality (AR) is slowly but surely entering the mainstream consciousness, with the record-breaking downloads of Pokemon GO and the widespread adoption of Snapchat acting as strong proofs of concept for even the most cynical of investors.

But there’s more to AR than entertainment. With its ever-improving software and hardware, it promises to have valuable real-world applications. And one industry we predict will benefit hugely from the introduction of AR technology is manufacturing.

AR for manufacturing has the potential to cut production downtime, identify issues, and streamline processes. Let’s take a quick look at how Augmented Reality applications in manufacturing will transform this industry.

What Are the Benefits of AR for Manufacturing?

There are a number of benefits to introducing Augmented Reality to the manufacturing industry, mainly centred around efficiency and productivity.

With AR, you can:

Work Faster, Work Smarter

By utilizing Augmented Reality apps and technology on the factory floor, engineers can work faster and smarter by viewing digital information overlaid onto the real-world environment. This makes them less reliant on interpreting schematics, instead receiving clear guidance and instructions via AR with regards to assembly.

Using Augmented Reality applications in manufacturing can also ensure maintenance and productivity can be carefully monitored and reviewed throughout the manufacturing process. Issues can be quickly diagnosed and resolved in real-time, without slowing production.

Access Real-time Data

One of the major impediments to the manufacturing process is the accessing of accurate and up-to-date data. Often, engineers need to stop what they’re working on and search for parts and scour a database for blueprints.

However, thanks to AR, this obstacle can be sidestepped as important information, including inventory, lead times, and specs, can be summoned in real-time without disrupting the flow of production.

Cut Production Downtime; Minimise Errors

Production downtime caused by human error or the breakdown of machinery can cost manufacturing companies dearly. Industrial Augmented Reality applications offer manufacturers a buffer to potential downtime scenarios by identifying errors and suggesting solutions faster and more efficiently.

For example, an AR app could be used to overlay a virtual representation of a design onto a real-life product, allowing engineers and designers to quickly assess the situation and pinpoint flaws, therefore preventing issues from arising and production slowing or stopping altogether.

Improve Training Effectiveness

Finally, Augmented Reality has the potential to transform the way training is conducted by manufacturing companies.

Like Virtual Reality training modules, AR applications can provide a level of immersion that contributes to more effective learning. And on-the-job training can be carried out with a greater degree of freedom, without the fear of making mistakes.

4 Augmented Reality Industrial Applications

The benefits of AR for manufacturing are clear, but what are the real-world applications? Well, here are four areas that will almost certainly be impacted by the introduction of Augmented Reality technology in the not-too-distant future.

1. Product Assembly

The clearest application of AR in manufacturing is in product assembly. The modern assembly line requires diligently piecing together hundreds, or even thousands, of components in the correct order and as fast as possible.

And typically, the instructions involved are made available as PDFs. These documents are long, detailed, and static, meaning they can very quickly become out of date.

To counter this, Augmented Reality applications projecting step-by-step instructions via an AR headset could allow the assembly line to operate quickly, work hands-free, and respond to issues with up-to-date information.

Here’s a great AR assembly line concept to give you an idea of its potential:

Industry 4.0: Augmented reality system for production - YouTube

2. Equipment Maintenance

Of course, the assembly line is only one part of the manufacturing process. Augmented Reality can also be used to maintain and repair the equipment involved.

Instead of using a manual to pinpoint problems and implement solutions, AR can help improve maintenance by reducing the time spent on research, and helping those responsible visualise the issue and the fix.

By using a tablet device or an AR headset, engineers can quickly address maintenance problems and keep factory downtime to a minimum.

Here’s a great example of an AR maintenance app in action:

Augmented Reality Equipment Training & Maintenance App - YouTube

3. Instant Support

Another important and useful feature of AR for manufacturing is the ability to access instant expert support. Whereas previously support would require a physical presence on site to step in and explain a solution, Augmented Reality technology allows for a kind of telecommuting.

Technicians could therefore see what the manufacturer sees, all from the comfort of their own office, therefore cutting travel time and costs, while guiding the engineer on site to fix their problem.

What’s more, this type of support can help bridge an ever-widening skills gap in the manufacturing industry, allowing companies to supplement their employees’ knowledge with off site engineering expertise.

4. Quality Assurance

Finally, manufacturing quality assurance (QA) could be greatly improved with the introduction of Augmented Reality technology.

Whereas most existing QA processes ultimately rely on the human eye to spot problems, AR can be used to project digital overlays onto products and highlight inconsistencies. This can speed the process, allowing technicians to identify even the most minor of issues with a greater degree of accuracy.

AR for QA could also lead to real-time, simultaneous analysis of parts, further streamlining the manufacturing process.

Here’s an example of AR for QA in action:

Augmented Reality Software System for Quality Inspection - CAQ AG - YouTube

In Summary

The manufacturing companies using Augmented Reality are already a step ahead of the competition. By implementing this technology across the areas we’ve discussed, they can reduce costs and increase production, all while minimizing mistakes and improving overall quality.

And investing in AR now just makes sense. A steady introduction of AR into existing manufacturing processes will allow for a smooth transition, instead of a panicked attempt to catch up with savvy competitors in the future.

Don’t delay – start thinking about AR for manufacturing today.

How Can AppReal Help?

Our talented team of AR app developers have their finger on the pulse of the latest AR manufacturing trends, and we’re ready to bring your Augmented Reality application to life.

With a high level of experience in custom app development across a wide range of industries, we can guide your idea from concept to completion. You’ll receive an AR app that will support your engineers and boost production.

Contact us today to speak with one of our AR app development experts.

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The world of Virtual Reality is filled to the brim with creativity. From exciting apps to immersive games, the virtual worlds being built are as impressive as the hardware used to explore them.

But the creators will soon be faced with a familiar challenge; one experienced by the smartphone app builders that came before them: How do you monetize your hard work?

Unsurprisingly, the answer appears to be Virtual Reality advertising. And in addition to helping VR developers earn money from apps and games, it could also spell the end for traditional digital advertising.

In this blog post, we examine VR advertising, how it will work, the costs involved, and share some of our favorite recent examples.

VR Advertising is Next Level Storytelling

Modals, scroll-throughs, pop-ups, banners, autoplay videos, the list goes on, and so too does our frustration with the way companies are trying to sell to us online. But over the next decade, that frustration looks certain to end. The use of Virtual Reality in advertising promises to drive the final nail in the coffin of those ineffective, alienating, and enraging digital advertising practices.

Instead, we’ll experience immersive and engaging advertisements which, if executed properly, won’t feel like advertisements. And here’s how it will work:

How will Virtual Reality advertising work?

This early concept of a VR ad format from Google shows the technology’s potential to display video adverts, but it’s fair to say that it’s not the most imaginative application. It leans heavily on an existing ad type, and it merely scratches the surface when it comes to engagement and immersion.

Unity, on the other hand, appear to have conjured a more creative approach to VR advertising with the Virtual Room. Described as an Alice in Wonderland-type doorway to a world within a virtual world, VR players will have the opportunity to interact with highly-targeted and relevant ads, without breaking that feeling of immersion built up during their time spent in the virtual environment.

As Unity explains in this blog post, their VR ad platform has been created “within the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) emerging ad experience guidelines … built to provide an engaging experience for the user and distributed within existing VR apps made with Unity.

The specially created ad spaces are integrated with Unity Analytics, providing heat maps to track user engagement, while advertisers can also access standard ad metrics and measure a user’s emotional response via a collaboration with Isobar.

Why will this be ‘better’?

A recent study found that 74 percent of digital natives (16-39) are tired of brands shouting at them on social networks. Online advertising has become overwhelmingly intrusive, with advertisers mining data to such a degree that the line between creativity and creepiness is becoming blurred.

The Virtual Room offers a literal escape from such advertising practices. In the future, when you’re exploring your favorite VR app or game, every now and again you’ll happen upon a glowing door, and when you enter, you’ll briefly be transported to another virtual world – one in which you can interact with a brand’s virtual content.

The idea is that the advert won’t be passive (i.e., you won’t just watch it); instead, you’ll play with it. The longer you play, the more time you’ll get to experience the ad’s content. And on the flipside, if you don’t interact, the ad will cut short at 30 seconds, allowing you to return to your app or game.

This will be advertising where the consumer feels in control. In fact, if the content is compelling enough, it won’t even feel like an advertisement. Pitched correctly, the Virtual Room could house a sponsored mini-game or branded extension of the app you’re already exploring.

What’s more, the Virtual Room could be just the antidote to Ad Blockers – use of which was up 30% in 2016 – that brands and publishers are screaming out for.

What Will VR Advertising Cost?

That is the question!

Producing a 360 degree video ad can cost in the region of tens of thousands of dollars. Developing a fully interactive, immersive VR ad? At the moment, that could be anywhere upwards of $500,000.

Unity is positioning the Virtual Room as a premium advertising platform, meaning there will only be a select few brands willing and able to experiment in the beginning. That being said, the growing consumer interest in VR – and the fact that the combined VR/AR industry looks set to be worth $108bn by 2021 – means the apps and games being developed will need to be monetized somehow, and Unity’s ad platform could become the standard required to do just that.

But for the here and now, Virtual Reality advertising could be well worth the cost for those brands able to afford it, and for one simple reason: you’re not competing for an individual’s attention. Unlike other mediums, where ads need to shout loud to be seen and heard, VR is all about immersion and engagement, without any outside interruptions.

Some Virtual Reality Advertising Campaigns in Action

Virtual Reality advertising may be in its early stages, but it’s already bearing fruit in some very creative ways. Here are just a few of our favorite examples:

1. Lionsgate / Jigsaw (Virtual Room)

Unity debuted its Virtual Room ad platform in partnership with entertainment company Lionsgate to promote their 2017 horror movie Jigsaw – the eighth installment of the Saw franchise.

Featuring VR-rendered props from the movie, custom voice acting from Jigsaw actor Tobin Bell, and special features related to the other films, this is a terrific example of Virtual Reality advertising in action.

When users first enter the Virtual Room – distributed across two VR apps (Samsung Internet and Nanite Fulcrum) – they find themselves trapped with sinister puzzles to solve. As they do so, they’re moved around the room, unlocking special Saw shrines, before ending up in a final room, where the Jigsaw trailer plays on a large screen inside their headset.

Jigsaw VR Full Playthrough - YouTube

2. Infiniti / Infiniti Q60 VR

In partnership with the VR ad network OmniVirt, car manufacturer Infiniti created a virtual test-drive of the Infiniti Q60.

Users have the opportunity to drive the vehicle at high speeds along multiple routes, including windy mountain roads, echoey tunnels, and dusty desert roads. The engine roars as they find themselves fully immersed from the driver’s seat, providing a brief glimpse of the Q60 experience.

Virtual Reality Marketing. Virtual Reality Advertising

3. Netflix / Ultimate Beastmaster

Another OmniVirt ad, Netflix wanted to demonstrate the scale of the obstacle course on their new show ‘Ultimate Beastmaster’.

Using VR and 360 degree video, the advert provides a guided tour of the ‘beast’, giving the viewer an idea of what lies in store for the competing athletes.

Virtual Reality Marketing. Virtual Reality Advertising

What Does the Future of VR Advertising Look Like?

The long-term future of Virtual Reality advertising appears to be one of great promise, however in the short-term there are still barriers to entry – namely price.

And a recent report co-authored by Vibrant Media and The Drum Studios highlights that while many experts agree that VR will make advertising more immersive and fun, brands need to be careful. The question remains at this point if the consumer will experience greater value when viewing an ad in VR, or if it will simply exist as a low ROI novelty.

That being said, the report also points to a fair amount of optimism where Virtual Reality advertising is concerned. 64% of advertisers already believe there’s room for VR in the digital video marketplace, and 40% of consumers claim that VR adverts would make them less likely to use an ad-blocker.

Meanwhile, against the backdrop of concerns around the cost and potential ROI of VR ads, media agencies are actively looking to invest in VR content, with 29% of those polled by Vibrant Media already purchasing VR ads for their clients. And it will be those agencies and brands that sidestep gimmicky applications in the short-term that will most likely see long-term success.

In Summary

From a creative standpoint, the prospect of the mass adoption of Virtual Reality technology is a tantalizing one. With immersion and engagement of which other mediums can only dream, VR will transform our relationship with advertising.

It will no longer be an intrusive practice, designed to interrupt us at inopportune times; instead, it will treat our attention spans with the respect they deserve, to the point where being advertised to could be a genuinely amazing experience. And that sounds pretty exciting to us.

How Can AppReal Help?

Our team of talented VR game developers have their fingers firmly on the pulse of the latest VR trends, and we’re ready to bring your Virtual Reality app to life.

With a high level of experience in custom app development across a wide range of industries, we can guide your idea from concept to completion. You’ll receive a VR app that will engage your users, with the potential to be monetized as VR ads become more commonplace.

Contact us today to speak with one of our VR app development experts.

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In 2017, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich took 250 people on a wingsuit flight over Moab, Utah. After landing on the desert floor, the flyers were quickly shuttled to Vietnam where they took in the sights of the Ban Gioc waterfall. From there, they once again took to the skies for an aerial inspection of a Nevada solar power plant. And after a successful inspection, they enjoyed courtside seats at an NCAA basketball game.

Once they removed their virtual reality helmets, they found themselves sitting in the audience at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Krzanich and industry leaders are using virtual reality at events to completely change the way attendees experience exhibitions, shows, and events as large as CES.

Despite being such a young field, virtual reality is making waves at events and trade shows around the world. Through virtual reality, Krzanich was able to take an entire audience on an audiovisual trip around the world, from visiting natural wonders to watching sporting events. Companies are likewise using virtual reality to market their products, engage customers, and provide incredibly compelling sensory experiences.

Virtual Reality in the Event Industry

“I’ve noticed that using AR/VR activities onsite is getting popular in the events industry. Event planners realize the potential of the technology. We have been receiving more requests to integrate VR/AR technology with the event management platform lately.  As an example, AR photo/video activations provide great opportunities for event planners and event marketers to engage with attendees, create social media buzz around an event, and scan more leads. To implement the integration, we need to consolidate attendees’ personal contact data that is collected through an event registration app with a static camera.”

Anna Tomakh, digital marketing manager GEVME – a prominent event tech vendor.

While VR is often used at home, companies are bringing it to shows and events to draw in and engage attendees. However, there are a few considerations to bringing VR to your next event.

What Do I Need?

First and foremost, you need VR hardware. The type of hardware depends on the level of immersion you want to provide, as well as your budget. A fully immersive environment requires dedicated hardware like an Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, HTC Vive, or Sony Playstation VR. This also means bringing a computer capable of pushing high-resolution 3D graphics at high frame rates for each headset.

Less immersive options are visually less impressive, but are more affordable and often more accessible. Google proved this by building a usable VR headset out of an Android phone and a bit of cardboard, which they gave away to everyone at the 2014 Google I/O conference. Now that many low and mid-range smartphones are powerful enough to run VR apps, you can get away with providing a headset and a mobile app for attendees to download to their phones.

Finally, you will need VR content. Most VR content is computer generated, although many companies are using 360-degree cameras to create equally immersive content pulled straight from the real world. For smartphone VR, Google and Apple provide toolkits for developing VR-ready content. For desktop and laptop VR, gaming engines like Unity and headset developers like Oculus provide toolkits for building VR applications.

What Can I Do?

Companies are still exploring different ways of using VR at events, but here are some of the more effective applications.

Demo Products and Services

Product marketing is one of the top commercial uses of VR today. 1 in 3 consumers are more likely to shop with retailers that utilize VR, and 70% of younger U.S. consumers are interested in brands that offer VR-powered shopping experiences.

One insurance provider used VR to promote its products in a rather unusual way. NRMA Insurance designed a car crash simulator to show how car safety features have improved over three decades. “Victims” put on a VR headset, climb behind the wheel of a showroom car, then (virtually) crash into a barrier at the same speed that actual crash tests are conducted. The user then goes through the same simulation, only behind the wheel of an older car with fewer safety features. The user has firsthand experience in being in a major car accident, but gets to walk away at the end. It was an effective campaign strategy that earned “Best in Show” at the 2014 Sydney Royal Easter Show.

Provide Tours

Some companies aren’t limiting themselves to products, and are instead bringing entire buildings with them to shows.

In 2016, Anheuser-Busch gave SXSW attendees a VR tour of their St. Louis brewery that involved seeing, hearing, and even smelling different parts of the facility. After being led into a special room, users donned VR headsets were led on a tour of different rooms. When attendees entered a colder part of the facility, fans blew actual cold air into the room. When the tour brought them near the hops that went into the beer, real-world employees held actual hops under the attendees’ noses. And of course, attendees got to taste the beer afterwards.

Attend Events

While it may seem strange to attend a show while you’re at a show, VR lets people from around the world meet in the same place at the same time. You could walk through the CES showroom or attend a workshop at SXSW simply by putting on a headset.

One area where VR is used to literally put on a show is the music industry. Nothing compares to attending a live concert, but companies like Live Nation and NextVR are coming close to fully simulating the experience. Through VR, viewers can not only move through the audience, but they can also stand front and center, hop up on the stage, or go backstage with the band. With 65% of VR consumers expressing interest in live events, VR is set to revolutionize the way we experience concerts, sports, and other live events.

Imagine Dragon Backstage | NextVR - YouTube

Bring Fiction to Life

VR is the perfect medium to breath life into fictional worlds and characters, and content creators are taking advantage of it to make viewers feel like they’re in their favorite movies and shows.

At the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con, FX Networks created a fully immersive simulation of the American Horror Story universe complete with an enclosed room, employees in lab coats, and beds with hospital sheets. After lying down, attendees put on VR headsets and were transported through a 5 minute psychological roller coaster ride complete with creepy characters and haunting scenes that played on common phobias. The experience was so popular it was fully booked through all four days of the convention.

Offer Training

VR is also ideal as a training platform. Although actions in the virtual world are free of real-world consequences, the simulation feels real to the user. Users can make decision that feel impactful, but can still be changed or reset entirely. This is especially important in fields like medicine and healthcare, where one mistake could cost a life.

For this exact reason, Osso VR is creating a virtual training platform that accurately emulates surgical procedures. Although the human body is an extremely complex system, companies like Osso want to give surgeons in training the opportunity to practice in life-like environments. Not only can students make mistakes, they can also reset the operating room at any time. It’s also significantly cheaper than having to source a sample to practice on.

Osso VR: Realizing Surgical Skill with Virtual Training - YouTube

While you may not see many surgeons in training at an event, you might see an artificial intelligence in training. Graphics manufacturer Nvidia developed Isaac, an artificial intelligence who learns by interacting with other people. In 2017, Nvidia brought Isaac to SIGGRAPH where he directly interacted with attendees. After putting on a VR headset, attendees entered a virtual room where they could play a game of dominoes with a digital avatar of Isaac. It’s a new step in VR that gives an actual body to an artificial construct, further bridging the gap between computers and people.

SIGGRAPH Asia 2017 – Recap of Day 4: 30 November 2017 - YouTube

Recruit Talent

It’s no secret that VR is more popular among younger users. 50% of users between the age groups of 20—29 and 30—39 are very interested in virtual reality, with only 6% expressing no interest at all. As a result, companies looking to hire are turning to VR as a medium for attracting young, computer-savvy professionals.

German railway company Deutsche Bahn took VR headsets to career fairs for this exact purpose. Candidates could experience first-hand the lives of train conductors, electricians, and construction workers. The initiative was sparked by a realization that much of Deutsche Bahn’s workforce would be retiring, and the company needed to acquire 10,000 people per year in Germany alone. The recruiting team found that exposing candidates to this experience resulted in higher-quality applications and candidates who were more interested in the position.

Conclusion

VR is still a young field, and companies around the world are still finding innovative new ways to bring it to their events. The rise of commercial VR has made it even easier for companies to bring virtual experiences everywhere they go. While VR won’t replace face-to-face contact anytime soon, it can greatly enhance the experiences customers have with your brand.

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The automotive industry is home to some of the most impressive and exciting technological advancements of the last century. But with each new feature and enhancement, the owner’s manual grows in size and complexity. And if you’re not a car enthusiast, even the simplest of car maintenance tasks can be very overwhelming.

Well, thanks to the advances in Augmented Reality (AR), thumbing through the manual in a state of desperation could be a thing of the past. AR car repair apps may seem like something ripped from the pages of science fiction, but they’re already making the complicated inner workings of the modern automobile easy to understand.

In this article, we take a quick look at some of the best examples of Augmented Reality car repair apps available today.

Top Examples of Augmented Reality Car Maintenance

Some of the world’s most recognisable car brands have jumped aboard the AR bandwagon, with plans to replace instruction manuals with innovative and immersive AR car maintenance smartphone apps and wearable technology. Here are the 5 examples that caught our eye:

1. BMW Augmented Reality Car Repair

First mooted back in 2009, BMW’s proprietary AR smart glasses are still under development. However, bits and pieces have slipped out over the years; enough to make us very excited at the prospect.

It’s likely that, before making the glasses commercially available, this AR wearable will be used by BMW engineers to help them maintain engines and identify issues. The idea is that by wearing these glasses, you will be able to glance over a BMW engine, and parts of it will be highlighted in different colours, allowing you to spot common mechanical problems.

For example, it could pair with your specific vehicle, and highlight the fact that you need to change your oil. It will then guide you through the step-by-step process with instructions and AR graphics.

See the prototype glasses in action below.

BMW's Augmented Reality Glasses - YouTube

2. Microsoft HoloLens for Augmented Reality Car Repair

Microsoft look to have stolen a march on Google with the release of Hololens – a viable and commercially available (to developers) AR wearable device. In the fullness of time, we fully expect Hololens to be sold as a consumer device that will interact with other Microsoft technology, such as the Xbox and the Surface Pro.

In the meantime, we’re left to dream a bit about its potential use in car maintenance. Not only do we envisage a similar use to the BMW glasses mentioned above, the Hololens boasts cutting edge networking capabilities, meaning it could in theory link to a remote mechanic who will be able to see what you see. They could then troubleshoot in real-time, guiding you towards a solution – ideal if you’re stuck by the roadside in the middle of nowhere!

Take a look at a Hololens Car Repair concept below:

Hologarage: Microsoft Hololens Car Maintenance Demo - YouTube

3. Hyundai Virtual Guide

Hyundai is a name synonymous with innovation, with a reputation that far exceeds the automotive industry. However, we’re here to talk about cars, and Hyundai’s often boast the most up-to-date and exciting features. And true to form, they’re also dipping a toe into the world of Augmented Reality with the Hyundai Virtual Guide.

The guide is an AR smartphone application that Hyundai owners can download and use to learn more about their vehicle. Instead of thumbing through a dense instruction manual, users can simply point their phone at their car and view the overlaid digital information. This can help them perform simple maintenance tasks such as oil changes or topping up wiper fluid.

You can also use the app in the interior of the car – ideal for helping you get to grips with your new vehicle dashboard.

The app is currently available for 2015 and 2016 Hyundai Sonata models (excluding hybrids), but we expect this sort of app to become the norm as the technology continues to improve.

See it in action below:

Hyundai Virtual Guide - YouTube

4. I-Mechanic – AR Car Repair App

For all other car models, look no further than I-Mechanic. This AR car repair app offers a similar level of guidance to the Hyundai app, but for a diverse range of models.

Using your smartphone or tablet, you can view handy AR graphics overlaid onto your real-world engine in real-time, helping you pinpoint important aspects for maintenance. The app helps you check oil and coolant levels, while guiding you to refill fluids and restart a dead battery.

And if all else fails, it can also direct you to the nearest auto parts store or mechanic.

View the demo in action on a Ford Fiesta below:

ARmedia Augmented Reality 3D tracker (I-Mechanic) - YouTube

5. Genesis AR Manual

If we told you that luxury car brand Genesis was owned by Hyundai, then the fact that it’s releasing an AR app to replace its conventional owners’ manual should come as no surprise.

Available for free from both the App Store and Google Play, the app is compatible with the 2017 G80 and G90 models. The company surveyed existing consumers to identify the most desirable features, and came up with 135 how-to videos for simple car maintenance tasks.

The app helps owners get to grips with the car’s features, explaining how to pair their phone via Bluetooth, how to use cruise control, and what the warning indicators mean. Meanwhile, the AR capabilities allow the user to point their smartphone or tablet at the engine and receive step-by-step instructions to help check the oil level or top up washer fluid.

And the app also contains a full electronic version of the manual, saving the company on print and paper costs.

See it for yourself below:

Genesis introduces Augmented Reality Manual - YouTube

In Summary

From an environmental standpoint, replacing the paper owners’ manuals with AR applications makes complete sense. However, the most exciting part of this development is the fact that even the most novice of car owners will be able to confidently take matters into their own hands when faced with a minor maintenance issue.

Augmented Reality car repair will also make the lives of mechanics easier. Wearable devices such as those described above will allow them to diagnose problems and identify engine parts during car manufacturing and maintenance completely hands-free.

All in all, we’re very excited to see where the automotive industry takes AR next.

How Can AppReal Help?

Our dedicated team of AR app developers are up-to-date with the latest Augmented Reality trends and technology, using Apple’s ARKit and Android’s ARCore to produce industry-leading apps for a diverse range of clients.

And with an extensive level of experience in custom app development, we’re ready to bring your amazing AR car repair app to life.

Knock your brand into a higher gear and stop your industry in its tracks with a brand new Augmented Reality application – contact us today to speak with one of our AR app development experts.

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