As part of my consultative role, I get to travel to a lot of customers’ sites to explain the capabilities of today’s VR systems and software. The audience typically falls into three categories, the “tried it before and it was terrible” group, the “it’s all amazing, but uninformed” group and the smaller “know a bit, or even quite a lot, about VR” group.
For those that have had a bad experience, I dig down and usually find they had experienced a poor, low-end, phone based headset and felt ill. I explain that they had merely watched bad VR, which is just like watching bad TV, or listening to bad music: it’s just a bad experience, and that not all VR systems are the same (see my previous blogs for explanations on VR hardware). For all of them however, getting hands on with the latest software and hardware really helps accelerate the learning and the understanding of what is possible.
Most of the time, I do this via a Lenovo laptop connected to an HTC Vive – this kit, complete with tripods, power cables packs all neatly into a Pelican hardcase that I can take on the plane/train/boat/rickshaw (yes, I have done rickshaw) with me. In fact, these kits have proved so popular with customers, that Virtalis now sells them as a customer kit called ActiveMove CVR (Compact VR).
The power of taking VR onsite, of showing users their data in 3D as an interactive VR model within minutes of being given a USB, is extremely powerful, so I know how useful it is now for our customers to do the same with their suppliers, colleagues and customers.
However, it is not just about HMDs. More and more of our customers are taking VR to their shows and events to showcase their products, and whilst HMDs work well, an ActiveWall (generically known as a Powerwall) works better. It naturally draws people onto the stand, plus, asking people just to put on a set of 3D glasses is much less intrusive than asking them to put on an HMD. This means the uptake is better, especially as 3D glasses work over the top of the wearer’s own glasses, if they are wearing them, which HMDs don’t.
Virtalis has addressed this need as well, producing a luggable form of the ActiveWall, known as the ActiveMove, that comes in a few cases, but unpacks to be a full size, 3D projection wall with tracking, powered by a high-resolution Christie projector. This is taken to many trade shows and events by the Virtalis team to show the power of VR, but has also been providing the “Wow!” on trade stands for customers such as Siemens and National Grid for several years.
I once setup a three-sided ActiveCube (a VR CAVE) in a demo studio and told the team I wanted to do a two minute demo, because in just two minutes, you can fully appreciate the power of an ActiveCube. Having portable systems means I can now easily take VR to the customer, including those whose view of VR is marred by a previous bad experience, and convince them that good VR is a really is the vital 21st century engineering tool they didn’t know they needed.