As I mentioned in my last post, I recently joined a new startup called Rocketbike ARVR as CMO & Creative Director. Last fall we pitched and received funding from the Vienna AWS Impulse XS to build a functional prototype for our first VR concept, which I am excited to say, is now completed!
booomVR is a virtual reality web browser and content aggregation platform. It allows for easy browsing, organizing and sharing of 2D, 3D, stereoscopic and 360 VR content within the same user interface.
booomVR is targeted towards brands & VR content providers who need a marketing platform to reach VR end users: (aka the current 1.5 Million VR headset owners) We provide them with a solution that can: increase visibilty, discoverablity, engagement & time spent on content. Plus we can be platform agnostic, so it will work on any headset.
Our primary revenue models are providing licensing and advertising solutions to brands, content providers & advertisers. This includes:
White Label Licensing – Basic, Power, Premium & Distributor Liscensing Packages for brands that want their own app, powered by our software
Licensing Branded Content Channels, Portals / Environments in the Main booomVR App, which we will be launching later in the year
Advertising Opportunities within the app.
Over the last two months, since we went public, there has been a whirlwind of activity and interest, including our first whitelable partnership, which I will be announcing very soon.
We have currently entered closed alpha release for Oculus Rift, with a closed beta coming soon and our main app launching later in the year. In the meantime, we are having a lot of discussions with investors, content partners and brands for both the main app and white lable projects.
If you are interested in more info on booomVR or how you can get involved, please get in touch!
Since i’m pretty busy these days and don’t have a lot of time for my personal blog, I encourage you to stay up to date on all the latest info on booomVR and Rocketbike ARVR via the links below and by joining our mailing lists.
Well folks, it has been a crazy year and as a result, I have not had a lot of time for posting on my blog. WAY too much going on lately… Many of you have been wondering what I have been up to and so I wanted to give everyone an update about recent happenings.
In May 2016, I accepted a new role at a startup called Rocketbike ARVR. Rocketbike ARVR is a stealth mode immersive technology studio, located in Vienna, Austria. Our IP is creating AR and VR experiences that inspire the imagination.
The company is made up of veterans of the games, movie, marketing and TV industries that have worked on everything from mobile games to AAA blockbuster franchises for some of the biggest studios and publishers in the world.
This fall, we pitched and secured funding to develop a prototype for a new virtual reality application which is currently in development. There are also additional projects going on behind the scenes that I can’t talk about yet, but when the time comes, I will let you know. For now, however, everything is still “hush hush”…
Join the Mailing List!
In the meantime check out the website and be sure to join the mailing list to receive updates when we have more news. We have some exciting and innovative new things to share soon, so be sure to keep checking in.
In summer of 2015, I launched AR/VR Magazine. In just one year, my little website has been growing like crazy and is now being considered as a leading virtual reality and augmented reality industry resource.
Since the launch, I have made lots of great connections and have been doing tons of media partnerships with several global AR/VR industry events. The website continues to grow beyond my expectations and has been a great tool for both promoting my own innitiatives, and more importantly, to give much needed attention to all the great companies and products that have been hitting the market like a firehose this year.
AR/VR is seriously exploding right now, so it is an amazing time to have jumped in with both feet running!
If you are a company who is considering AR/VR related projects, looking to invest in some great opportunities, or needing exposure for your AR/VR related business, please get in touch. I have a lot of irons in the fire and would be happy to talk to you about the possiblities.
I’ve been doing some experimenting with the Google Cardboard SDK for Unity and I wanted to share this little prototype iPhone app I have been working on. This is a demo virtual reality motorcycle configurator app that features a 3D model based on the 2014 Harley Davidson Sportster Forty-Eight. (One of my favorite bikes, ever.)
So far the app allows you to change colors, start the bike, see lights and hear sound. I’ll share more as the project progresses.
PLEASE NOTE: This is NOT an official Harley Davidson project, I just needed a theme and I am a huge Harley Sportster fan.
Learning Unity, C# and Xcode has been slow going, as there is definitely a huge learning curve, but the process has been rewarding as well as a great introduction to building small VR applications.
As basic as it is, I really like working on VR apps for the phone, as opposed to the more involved projects using the Oculus DK2. Sure, Oculus apps look nice, but there is something about being able to just pull the phone out anywhere and let others experience things, as opposed to having to be tied to a PC and sitting in front of a chair, I think is really exciting.
Previously, Mercedes connect me services were only available to owners of newer Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Now, with the new Mercedes connect me Adapter and app, millions of previously, non connect me-capable vehicle owners (2002 and up), can take part in the connected, digital lifestyle offered via the new Mercedes me, premium services platform. The product uses an OBD2 stick that plugs into the service port under the dashboard of the car. The user then uses an app on their phone to connect to the stick via bluetooth. To use the app, users must be registered via the Mercedes me portal to connect their data. The app allows the user to get a basic diagnostic overview of their vehicle. It provides a list of last recorded vehicle status: fuel level, mileage, parking duration, a photo of your vehicle, insurance data and registration number. The app is especially useful for business travelers who can record their trips. It provides a parking locator, parking timer, parking time reminder, as well as an easy way to contact the dealer or service center in case of breakdown or emergencies.
My role was strategic consultant for the high level concept, to brainstorm new and innovative product features, competitive analysis and to provide a basic wireframe and UI concept to kick off the process. Having previously worked on the strategy and concept for the Mercedes me platform, my task was to figure out how to further integrate the device and app into the existing platform.
There were many challenges with this project, primarily due to a complex combination of connectivity & usability issues related to the OBD connector, bluetooth, mobile app, and getting them all to work seamlessly. There were many ideas and feature suggestions that were made that the team felt could augment the product from both a usability and a business focus, but unfortunately, did not make it into the first release. As a result, the product offers a very basic set of features which the client felt very strongly would be enough for a first launch. Overall, I felt that the final product, although limited in scope, is solid and meets with the business cases proposed by the client.
Once I had it configured and fired up the demo, I believe my first words were:
“Woah!! Oh shit… (thinking “I actually feel a little nauseous”) then “Weird, I can’t see my hands!” then “Hmmm, I kind of feel a little nerdy with this thing on my head” but then finally… “Oh my God, this is amazing! I’ve got to do this!”
The result has been a total shift in direction for me and ever since, I have been immersing myself (no pun intended) into learning as much as possible about developing Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality (AR, VR) and immersive 360 degree content.
A New Emotional Frontier
VR content is both, physical and emotional, at the same time. You experience being in the environment, not just looking at it from a distance through a rectangular window. As a result, you have a much more emotional connection with the content.
At the same time, you feel it physically, because your eyes, ears and brain are reacting as if you are there in real life. A great VR experience is thrilling. A bad one can make you nauseous. (Sim sickness, as it is called, is very real and not fun. A friend of mine admitted that he still felt sick even thinking about his first VR driving experience, weeks after trying it.)
The main point being, the experience is sticky. it can stay with you much longer than traditional media, because it embeds into your memory like a real experience.
As a result, VR is a very powerful storytelling medium for content and it opens up a lot of new and exciting opportunities.
Breaking Outside The Box
Another exciting aspect of VR is the fact that we are no longer restricted to rectangular content. When you think about it, not much has changed over the years in regards to how we consume content. Regardless of the UI, it is pretty much just square and rectangular screens of various sizes that display square and rectangular grids of images, videos, audio, games and text, which is read left/right/top & bottom.
As a user experience consultant and information architect, my job up until now, has been to create new interactive interfaces, websites, apps, software & content to fill them. More and more lately, the design industry has been struggling to come to terms with the fact that much of the web experience from a UI perspective, has been built.
Other than optimization, most of the big problems have been solved. Because of software like Google Material Design, Android, responsive web design, web components, bootstrap & contextual push notifications, etc, the web is becoming standardized. Reinventing the wheel in regards to the web UI is no longer necessary as the main focus.
The future is about experience design and it is all about the content and it’s context. With AR & VR, we can now break out of the box and experience a new immersive type of content that wraps around you in 360 degrees or appears as a layer over the real world.
Going to a movie will no longer be a 2 dimensional box you look at from a distance. Instead, you will be inside it. It has a front and a back, an up and a down. It has depth and you can navigate it like a first person shooter or a MMORPG video game.
It’s like the Wild West again, and I think that is both refreshing and really exciting. Sure, there are a lot of unknowns and a lot of experimenting to be done, but that’s part of the fun when it comes to designing the future.
New Devices & Content
Oculus has announced that their first commercial product, The Rift, will be on the market in Q1 2016, so I am betting that it will be the “must have” gear for Christmas 2016. They are projecting sales of over 12 million AR/VR devices in 2016, with 60% of them being Oculus products. By 2020, they anticipate the AR/VR industry to reach $150 Billion is annual sales.
To meet these projections, lots of VR content is being developed as we speak and many content companies, especially game companies, are switching their focus to primarily VR in the future.
Check out what my old coworkers at Crytek are working on.
There are also a number of other device manufacturers such as Microsoft HoloLens & Magic Leap, that promise some really amazing experiences. Only time will tell, but considering that one of my favorite sci-fi authors Neil Stephenson has joined Magic Leap as Chief Futurist, needless to say, these are really exciting times.
We are also not just confined to expensive headsets wired to your computer. Google has released Google Cardboard, which allows you to take a simple smart phone, insert it into a piece of cardboard with two glass lenses and get a very similar Virtual Reality experience.
This makes the point of entry cost for VR experiences really low, allowing for some awesome opportunities for education and social causes.
Over the past couple months, I have been basically experimenting and learning everything I can about AR, VR and other forms of sim tech.
One main focus is learning how to develop immersive content for Oculus and Google Cardboard using Unity, which is a 3D gaming engine. The C# coding aspect is proving to be a steep learning curve, but I am taking it step by step and I am committed.
Here’s a little instagram video of an experiment I did in Unity creating a maze for Oculus. Gotta have cats…
One exciting aspect of developing AR/VR content in a game engine is it’s ability to use artificial intelligence. I think the future of content combined with both, the new visual based VR/AR devices, as well as all of the connected products of Internet of Things will require some sort of 3D environment to both conceptualize and to build smart, connected, immersive experiences.
There are a lot of new User Experience issues to tackle with AR/VR projects as well. Lots of use cases, usability and design standards that need to be studied and developed for the industry. The “nausea factor” is a serious issue and a core focus of UX for VR is being gentle with the user and not making them sick. I think these are critical issues that need to be considered, especially for my own work as a consultant.
On the flip side, I can also anticipate a trend in extreme VR sports for the people who want a thrill. I totally anticipate a VR game coming out called “Don’t Puke” that tracks your eyes to make sure you keep them open during extreme, gut wrenching experiences. You win points for not vomiting. Kind of like the future’s answer to a drinking game. Or maybe drunk VR games will replace the mechanical bull?
Who knows…? Mark my words though, it will happen.
Another focus for me is how to better integrate my art in the AR/VR space. I have a few ideas, but for now I am just playing and having fun. As far as an art platform, AR/VR is wide open and there is SO MUCH potential for being creative.
More Apple Support Please!
On a side note, I have also started an Apple developer account and I am getting fluent on how to port content to the iPhone. Doing AR & VR for the Apple platform however, is proving challenging in regards to plugin and SDK support. Since Apple recently purchased Metaio, (which is one of the only AR software companies for Apple) and then shut down new accounts, AR on Mac is a bit limited until they come out with their own AR/VR device (whenever that may be…) Oculus will not be supporting Apple any time soon.
As a result I will probably tackle Android development soon, as well as possibly switching to a PC based machine. It’s looking like the next couple years will really be in favor of a PC based dev environment.
(Apple, if you are reading this, throw us a sign, will ya? At least a teaser that you have something cooking in this space or maybe when we can expect it.)
I have also been joining a lot of AR/VR communities and trying to network with as many like minded enthusiasts as I can.
If you are a AR/VR fan, feel free to connect with me on all the socials. I would love to talk shop.
If you are an AR/VR company and have a project that you think might be in need of my skills, please get in touch. I am very interested in getting involved and getting some hands on experience however I can.
In the meantime, I will probably be posting quite a bit more on the topic so stay tuned.
As a consultant, I am frequently asked to share my opinions on the future of technology & innovation. Typically, this is on a micro level, in context to the needs of a particular client, project, industry or use case.
As is the way with consultants, many of these ideas end up buried in a Powerpoint or research document, never to see the light of day again, once the project is over.
What I feel has been lacking is a larger overview of my thoughts. Some way to get a bigger picture, based on all of the various projects, clients and industries I have been involved with over the course of my career. Some place to document & reference should ideas become reality, or should things change.
I had considered writing book about the future (I still have a lot of books planned) but like most tech related nonfiction books, they take time to write and once published, their information can quickly become dated or irrelevant. A book about the future becomes the present, then the past, very quickly…
My goal is to write a multi-part series of interconnected blog posts about the future, where I touch on different topics. Some lengthy, some short. I’m just going to wing it and see where it goes.
If it eventually turns into a book, so be it. If not, the important thing is that I share ideas in small bursts when I think of them, as opposed to letting them ferment in the back of my mind, useless to the world.
The hope with this series is to both keep these ideas fresh, to inspire new ideas and discussion. At the very least, it will serve as a reference point to look back on and reflect.
Admittedly, this will include a lot of free flowing ideas that might stray off into sci-fi at times, however I feel that based on a lot of current events, a lot of what I write will happen. I’m usually right on a lot of things…
With that being said, I will list all entries below and eventually collect them all on their own page. I will definitely be asking for opinions, so PLEASE feel free to leave comments, share feedback and let me know your thoughts.
Enjoy & see you in the future. (See Below for all the latest posts!)