This week, The Reality Wire features T-Mobile, Theia Interactive, The Gettys Group, Goodwill Industries International, Accenture, Lincoln & York, Zappar, Immerse and Solas VR
Immersive technology cohort joins T-Mobile Accelerator
T-Mobile has kicked-off its T-Mobile Accelerator Spring 2021 immersive technology programme as part of its ongoing mission to fuel 5G innovation.
For the next three months, the below handpicked startups will work directly with technologists and business leaders at T-Mobile to build the next big thing in immersive 5G technology, from augmented reality wearables to holographic communications, 3D data storytelling, volumetric video streaming, immersive virtual learning, and more.
What is the T-Mobile Accelerator?
The T-Mobile Accelerator serves as a hub for driving ideas, innovation and action. Focused on collaborative experiences for growth, it delivers year-round programming and activities, including entrepreneurial and tech community engagements, expert speakers and mentorship sessions. Since its inception, the T-Mobile Accelerator has worked with 67 startup companies that have raised an aggregate of nearly $80 million since participating in the programme. Additionally, 82% of the alumni companies are still in business today. The spring programme runs through 30 June 2021 and will culminate in a demo day where participants showcase their accomplishments.
Who are the T-Mobile Accelerator Spring 2021 participants?
Condense Reality (Bristol, UK): An entertainment software solution built to capture and stream volumetric video in real-time. The company combines computer vision with deep learning and hardware to produce high-fidelity volumetric video recordings of complex events such as live sports, enabling broadcasters and content creators to stream in volumetric 3D to augmented and virtual reality headsets.
Everysight (Haifa, Israel): Everysight is revolutionising the way people see and experience information. With decades developing vision systems and heads-up displays, the Everysight team brings cutting edge experience to the field of wearable technology. After creating the first consumer-focused augmented reality smart glasses for cyclists, triathletes, and early adopters, Everysight aims to bring the augmented reality revolution to even more markets.
Flow Immersive (Auburn, California, USA): Creating data-driven decisions is easier when everyone can understand the data and is fully engaged in the discussion. Flow Immersive is a data storytelling, authoring and presentation platform to drive data-driven decisions and sales conversions on any device, from XR to mobile.
Kai XR (Oakland, California, USA). Kai XR is the most inclusive and accessible 360 deg platform where children can explore, dream, and create. Children can explore our diverse virtual field trips and dream and create their very own virtual adventures. Kai XR immerses children in new worlds and opportunities by simply using their smartphones.
Longan Vision Corp (Hamilton, Canada): Longan Vision’s main product, FVS (Fusion Vision System), is a revolutionary modern smart firefighting augmented reality wearable device to enhance a firefighter’s vision in fire operations.
Matsuko (Košice, Slovakia): Holographic Communication is the first software-only solution to experience realistic, lifelike real-time holograms of people for remote communication. It’s like video calls but in 3D. No avatars, no scanning, no setup. Matsuko’s solution is not a rigged avatar but a fully expressive hologram that is way past the uncanny valley. With the Matsuko app and XR glasses, you can see your colleagues and friends next to you in the most lifelike way.
Multicasting.io (Phoenix, Arizona, USA): Multicasting.io is a platform designed to support an array of different multi-angle real-time social video sharing use cases all from a single secure ecosystem. The platform enables the simultaneous video recording, streaming and creation of highlights from multiple angles at any event. Easily integrate enhanced social and user features inside your own app using its platform and SDK (software development kit) to reduce maintenance, scope of work and time to market.
Prisms of Reality (Brooklyn, New York, USA): Prisms seeks to close the STEM participation and achievement gap for all students by scaling a pedagogy we know works: experiential learning. Our goal is to bridge learning gaps in math using adaptive Immersive Virtual Reality (IVR) to ensure enduring proficiencies and engagement while reducing re-teaching time that leads to the largest inefficiencies in our system today.
What does T-Mobile say?
John Saw, executive vice president of advanced and emerging technologies at T-Mobile, says: “5G is blurring the boundary between our physical and virtual worlds to create immersive experiences that better connect us to people and things around the globe. Businesses are finding better ways to collaborate virtually, and consumers are being engaged with new experiences that bring them closer than ever to the products and entertainment they love.”
“I can’t wait to see the innovation that occurs from this talented group of developers that are pioneering the way in immersive 5G technology.”
Theia and The Gettys Group turn to collaborative VR to streamline design
Creating the look and atmosphere of a new hotel is a complex undertaking, with every design decision needing to be weighed and approved.
In response, Theia created a fully rendered, high-quality 3D build of the hotel in virtual reality, giving the designers the ability to walk its virtual halls and make design changes on the fly.
How did Theia do it?
Using Unreal Engine and its Optim collaborative template, Theia created a scale model of the Marriott International’s TownePlace Suites, focusing on the lobby, guest rooms and common area, along with a rooftop bar.
The hotel, which opened in Nashville’s Capitol District in October 2020, includes 204 suites and studios, a 50-person meeting space, an outdoor courtyard and several other amenities, including a rooftop bar.
The virtual model allowed the designers to change every aspect of the look, including the furniture, the floor, the colour of the paint and more. The model also featured dynamic lighting to show how things would look in daylight and at night.
As the design came together, stakeholders had the ability to tour the 3D model remotely, either on their desktop or by putting on a headset and wandering around the model in virtual reality. They could then leave notes for the designers, or even have full voice conversations with them in real-time, all without having to leave their own home or office.
The designers also had access to a fully-equipped virtual planning space where they could collaborate remotely as needed (in or out of virtual reality). The TownePlace Suites marks the latest in a series of collaborations between Theia and The Gettys Group dating back to 2017.
Once the TownePlace Suites visualisation model was complete, The Gettys Group reached out to hospitality management firm Big Little Fish and offered a virtual tour of the 4,500 sqft rooftop bar. The group immediately saw the potential, and leased both a coffee shop in the lobby and the rooftop bar. It brought in chef Aaron Thebault, a rising star in the culinary world, and opened the fine dining establishment Zeppelin in November 2020.
What did Theia say?
Bill Fishkin, president and co-founder of Theia Interactive, says: “Building a high quality 3D model in VR, The Gettys Group was able to save a huge amount of time without sacrificing anything—in fact, it actually gave them more options than ever before.”
“By taking advantage of new technologies like VR and game engines, we can provide designers more flexibility at a fraction of the cost, changing how hospitality design is done.”
What other new technologies did they use?
Ron Swidler, chief innovation officer at The Gettys Group, says: “We had a strong vision for TownePlace Suites, and we knew from experience that Theia could relay our vision via real-time rendering.”
“The combination of Theia, CloudXR and AWS [Amazon Web Services] helped make our vision a reality, and it helped others, including our stakeholders and tenants like Zeppelin and Moonshot Coffee Bar, buy into the vision as well. We are thrilled with the outcome!”
Goodwill and Accenture use VR to help those affected by the criminal justice system
The experience is designed for people affected by the criminal justice system who want to enter the workforce. Through a simulated interview experience and a series of stories, users will speak face-to-face with a human resources manager and hear from individuals who overcame challenges they faced when seeking and earning employment after incarceration.
How does Project Overcome use virtual reality?
Project Overcome uses virtual reality to give users a 3D immersive experience in a mock interview with an HR manager and a coaching session with a career counsellor. This experience is based on realistic scenarios often encountered by individuals who were formerly involved with the justice system. Additionally, six individuals who were affected by the criminal justice system share their real-life journeys to finding employment.
The experience uses a branched narrative approach to these dialogues, with the capacity to create millions of unique combinations of how the training can play out—all depending on the individual user’s choices.
The goal is to assist people with finding employment by helping them speak comfortably about their incarceration during their job-hunting process, while also learning to use modern technologies in a low-risk environment.
How is Accenture involved?
The virtual solution is a result of collaboration with Accenture, which has long supported Goodwill Industries International’s workforce development efforts as part of its Skills to Succeed initiative. This aims to support and empower people to take on the shifting workforce landscape and build a more economically inclusive world.
Since September 2020, Accenture has provided a grant and pro bono consulting to Goodwill to develop new ways to address the challenges those affected by the criminal justice system experience when entering the labour force.
The nine-month in-kind engagement with Goodwill includes a series of interviews and surveys of potential users and employment professionals, as well as the development and piloting of the proof of concept.
Jimmy Etheredge, chief executive officer for North America at Accenture, says: “Covid-19 is having a disproportionate impact on individuals who were already at risk of being left behind, including those who have criminal backgrounds.”
“It’s in our collective interest to lift each other up as we recover from the health, economic and social crisis of the century. When we unleash the combined power of technology and human ingenuity, we can remove barriers and create pathways to opportunity.”
What does Goodwill say?
Ten community-based, not-for-profit Goodwill organisations are implementing Project Overcome across the US and Canada.
Steven C. Preston, president and chief executive officer of Goodwill, says: “Project Overcome helps individuals through a unique experience so they can feel empowered to tell their own narratives about their backgrounds to prospective employers.”
“People impacted by the justice system often experience inequities over the course of their lives coupled with limited work experience and little to no financial resources, stable housing or support systems. This programme offers the possibility for the trajectory of their lives to change and allows them to reestablish themselves as contributing members to their communities.”
Lincoln & York connects with B2B customers using Zappar WebAR
Lincoln & York, a leading UK coffee roaster, has introduced a new Zappar WebAR experience where customers are immersed in its award-winning roastery, as part of the company’s ongoing marketing strategy.
The company, which roasts and supplies coffee to some of the UK’s most loved brands, is targeting its business-to-business customers showcasing its extensive range of services, from sourcing and roasting to packing coffee.
In a bid to appeal to new audiences by demonstrating its full in-house capabilities, Lincoln & York hopes that its augmented reality experience will drive new business leads and further consolidate the brand as the UK’s leading coffee roaster.
How does the augmented reality experience work?
After scanning the QR code, users are introduced to a screen that guides them to play the web augmented reality experience, showcasing Lincoln & York’s Kahawa House Roastery. The location had temporarily stopped production due to the pandemic, and the company wanted to show how their processes have had to adapt while ensuring the same high quality of work.
This virtual roastery experience gives users an access all areas tour of Lincoln & York’s roastery and an insight into the process of turning green bean coffee into popular household coffee brands. It’s now live for anyone to see.
What do Lincoln & York and Zappar say?
Georgina Cowley, marketing manager at Lincoln & York, says: “In what’s been a challenging year for everyone, especially in the food service industry, we’ve learnt the most important thing for our businesses was to make sure we continued communicating with our customers.”
“Demonstrating what we’re capable of, what we’ve been working on and how we as a business can support them moving forward, our new AR experience is helping our customers to feel like part of the Lincoln & York team and provides reassurance that we as a business can service all their needs, even in this new consumer landscape.”
Caspar Thykier, co-founder and chief executive officer at Zappar, which worked with Lincoln & York to develop the experience, adds: “We’re seeing two significant trends in AR: it’s use as an engagement channel to tell contextually relevant brand stories that are immersive and interactive that deliver higher dwell time and action; and the ability for that AR experience to be served by simply scanning a QR code from your mobile and then delivered through the browser in WebAR to ease friction and increase distribution of that content be that on-pack, online or in a social post via a deep link.”
“It’s great to see thought-leading brands like Lincoln & York are taking advantage of this new camera capability for their business.”
Immerse partners with Solas VR to bring wellness to the remote workforce
The partnership will enable organisations to access a library of virtual reality meditations that can be easily integrated into the Immerse Platform and deployed to employees across organisations.
What is the Immerse Platform?
The Immerse Platform enables companies to create, scale and measure virtual reality training. It’s a growing ecosystem designed to empower and enable organisations to embrace the future of training in the workplace.
What is the Solas VR app?
It’s an innovative meditation app to boost mental wellbeing and brain productivity through meditation.
How will the new partnership work?
Solas VR experiences will be hosted on the Immerse Platform. Drawing from solid scientific data and empirical studies, the partnership aims to multiply the effectiveness of training, through better focus and open-mindness, achieved via mindfulness. The partnership will empower organisations to enhance employee engagement and performance, providing a new approach to mental health and job satisfaction.
The initial library of Solas VR experiences to be made compatible and available through the Immerse platform include:
The meditation space: A wide selection of 360 deg videos capturing the nature of Ireland, that can be used in different meditation experiences. The user selects the duration, the voice of preference and the background sounds, to create a personal and unique mindfulness journey.
Weekly Wisdom: An area dedicating to reflection and self-discovery. This unit is updated regularly to provide the audience with new stories and discussions to guide them into their self-improvement pathways.
Breathing space: Breathing exercises for all levels of experience.
What do Immerse and Solas VR say?
Tom Symonds, chief executive officer of Immerse, says: “The Immerse team are excited to be working with Solas VR to help encourage mindfulness in the corporate environment. We understand the importance of having a healthy and happy workforce, and the capabilities of virtual reality will allow those who receive the content to incorporate it more effectively than traditional methods. Partnering with Solas VR is a great step in our endeavour to enable businesses to capitalise on the opportunity offered by immersive technology in multiple ways.”
Stephen Pitcher, managing director at Solas VR, adds: “We’re very excited to be working with Immerse to help bring meditation, and subsequently a better sense of wellbeing, to as many people as possible. The last year has been difficult, but employers who prioritise corporate mindfulness will gain a sustainable competitive advantage as looking after your employees is more important than ever.”
Don’t forget to read the latest issue of VRWorldTech Magazine, which focuses on education.