The Reality Wire - 24 July 2020

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Ørsted’s marketing win, Iceland Venture Studio’s investment target, the Bank of Japan’s virtual tour and Unity’s latest update feature in The Reality Wire

Ørsted aims to convince audiences that Earth is our most important frontier with 360° video experience

First up in this edition of The Reality Wire is green energy company Ørsted, which has so far sent more than six million people on an award winning immersive space mission designed to change their perceptions of Earth and humanity.

Ørsted teamed up with astronauts Helen Sharman (UK), Mike Massimino (US), Andreas Mogensen (Denmark), and Reinhold Ewald (Germany) to develop the Space Safari project, which combines 360° video with NASA footage and narrations by the team of experienced astronauts.

Launched in September 2019, the initiative is intended to speed up climate action by changing perceptions about the planet and the people who inhabit it. 

“Ørsted’s Space Safari is built on the idea of democratising the overview effect by helping everyone to see planet Earth from this unique vantage point,” explained Niels Rahr, global lead creative strategist for corporate branding at Ørsted.

“It’s our hope that more people will show love for our home and speed up green action globally and thereby maintain a habitable planet.”

In June, the Space Safari project won in two categories of the prestigious Danish Design Award: Message Understood and People’s choice.

This is a novel use of an immersive technology, built on the reports of astronauts who feel a greater sense of responsibility for planet Earth when they experience it from space.

Recreating this experience through 360° video gives audiences the opportunity to develop their own sense of responsibility toward the planet, and demonstrates the power of immersive technology in marketing and raising awareness.

Flow investor Iceland Venture Studio seeks investments outside of Nordics

The Reality Wire stays in the Nordics with news that Iceland Venture Studio, the firm dedicated to Icelandic tech startups, has raised $2 million to invest outside of the region, in addition to its $1 million fund from 2019.

Iceland Venture Studio has already made additional investments into its first portfolio companies. These include Flow, which develops immersive meditation programs, and RetinaRisk, the creator of an innovative new algorithm to predict diabetic retinopathy years in advance.

The firm is now seeking to invest a significant part of its newly-raised funds into the most innovative tech startups outside of Iceland.

“We’re very committed to both the past and future of Iceland Venture Studios as both a fund as well as the companies we have been fortunate enough to help in their seed rounds,” noted chief executive officer and co-founder Bala Kamallakharan. “We remain very bullish on both RetinaRisk and Flow and are very proud to be able to make further investments in their companies and team.”

“Having raised twice the money in half the time of our first fund, fund two is earmarked not just for Iceland but for any company demonstrating vision and excellence in our target market segments.”

Kristín Hrefna Halldórsdóttir, chief executive officer of Flow, was full of praise for Iceland Venture Studios as an investment partner.

Halldórsdóttir said: “Bala is a legendary mentor to the Icelandic tech community and we are very happy that his fund has seen fit to not only continue its support of VR-assisted meditation, but also Flow’s worldwide promotion of pure Icelandic nature and progressive culture.”

“The new investment of $500,00 into Flow will allow us to continue our journey of bringing meditation to not just the corporate world, but also to individuals who want to partake of guided meditation enhanced with VR, carefully curated music and nature straight from Iceland.”

Bank of Japan replaces public tours with virtual ones

The Bank of Japan's headquarters
The Bank of Japan’s headquarters

The Bank of Japan, forced to close its headquarters after the outbreak of coronavirus (Covid-19), has developed a free 360° immersive experience to recreate the popular public tour it once offered.

Its headquarters are located in a protected building of cultural heritage that reportedly attracts more than 15,000 visitors, many of them from overseas, each year.

The 360° immersive experience is broken down into three parts and can be viewed on VR, mobile or desktop devices.

The Reality Wire urges you to hurry and check it out, because it’s only available until the end of 2020.

Unity issues first TECH stream release of 2020

Unity Technologies’s first TECH stream release of the year is now available.

Unity 2020.1 includes a wide range of features and improvements that make workflows more intuitive and users more productive, while Unity 2019 LTS remains the recommended version for projects in production.

The Bolt visual scripting asset, a recent acquisition from developer Ludiq, is now included in all Unity plans at no additional cost.