From Marketing and Media to Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality Meets Celebrity Fitness Trainer
May 31, 2024
Virtual Reality Meets Celebrity Fitness Trainer
May 31, 2024
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From Marketing and Media to Virtual Reality

25 years ago, an Edmonton based marketing firm got its start creating commercials for Canada’s largest furniture store, The Brick. This process involved building extensive sets, which was very time consuming and resource intensive. This lead the team to explore 3D modeling as a way to speed up the process, resulting in significant expertise in using digital technologies to create realistic environments.

About 7 years ago, with the advent of some of the first consumer VR headsets, the team started to explore other avenues to deploy these skills, and KOVR was born. Their first project in the realm of ARVR was with a large developer, Northland Properties. They were looking for an innovative way to showcase their new properties to wholesale customers at a tourism trade show for travel wholesalers. The result was a show suite experience with four doors each leading to an interactive display of one of their new products. Although the demonstration was novel for its time, and received great feedback, many people were still skeptical of the technology, as it was so limited by the hardware of the day. At the time, the Oculus Rift was one of the best devices on the market but had to be connected to a gaming laptop which powered the simulation.

In 2019 the team partnered with the University of Alberta, who was raising money for the Eye Institute of Alberta. Together they created a unique experience that simulated the effects of different eye diseases while in an Alice in Wonderland world. This project was a massive success and was the feature of the “Eye Ball,” which was a charity event for the Institute.

This success opened the team’s eyes (no pun intended) to the potential for this technology in the training and learning space, which has now been their focus for the last several years. Their most recent project is a collaboration with Norquest College and EliXR Simulations to create a training for removing bias in hiring. The scale of the project is massive, with the first of three simulations nearing completion at 50 minutes long. “Its at the level of a movie or a documentary”, says Michael Bowman, Chief Marketing Officer of KOVR, “there’s a really collaborative team of subject matter experts in neurodivergence and EDI, script writers, set designers, and directors, and then we’re the guys that build it.”

The small team of 7 continues to innovate and take on larger projects, “The name of the game is time. Each time we do a project we get smarter and more efficient. That first animated avatar and set took a long time, but now we have it down so we can create alot faster. We’ve also learned a lot about UI, what works, what doesn’t and what’s over complicated.”

When asked what the future of VR looks like Michael said, “I’m cautious about the pace. I experienced the initial gold rush of VR when it was the buzz word, but now VR is just another emerging technology, and AI is at the forefront. The pace of VR will steadily grow, and become more on the radar for more organizations that are providing training. As we have better use cases and more people are impressed, it will be very viable for teaching and training, but its not an overnight gold rush.”

Until there is more mass adoption on the consumer side, KOVR is focusing on bespoke training simulations for business customers, with Michael noting that off the shelf VR training isn’t getting much traction because they often cant account for nuances of the companies using them and they are not configurable. “Focusing on the B2B market is more sustainable as there are a limited number of consumer headsets out there.”

Check out some of the exciting work that has been completed by KOVR here.