360 Immersive had the pleasure of discussing the Virtual Reality (VR) training industry with the Idaho Virtual Reality Council (IVRC). Key points of the discussion were our company’s history and motivation to enter this new industry. Why our company looked to training First Responders with this new technology, and a look to the future for Virtual Reality. The video and dialog below was derived from a Facebook LiveCast on May 16th, 2017
Chuck: Hello, everyone. My name’s Chuck with Idaho Virtual Reality Council, and I’m excited to be here with our friends at 360 Immersive. We have Jennifer Lastra and David Cleverdon. They are the owner and managing director; and since they were kind enough to offer up this space so that we can do live casts, we’re going to be talking to them on a regular basis. So I thought that we could start by you guys telling us a little bit about 360 Immersive, how you guys got into the 360 and training space. So David, can you tell me about your journey?
David: So we’ve actually, as a marketing and production company, been in business for over 16 years as DTX Creative. And a couple years ago – actually two and a half years ago, we saw that virtual reality was kind of that next best thing. Jennifer came and joined us as a manager partner, and we literally pivoted the Company. We looked at VR based on it’s a new way to train, a new way to market, a new way to communicate with a demographic or client base, and here we are today. We have a new platform that we’re going to be releasing this summer that allows organizations to do their own virtual reality training, potentially marketing, and that’s kind of the story.
Chuck: Great. And as you guys have made that transition, can you guys tell me a little bit about how you’ve gained traction in this space or haven’t gained traction?
Jennifer: I think the way we gained traction is we had to educate – we had to educate ourselves. We had to figure out a lot of solutions, kind of a DIY approach using the technology. And so we’ve been really, really successful at getting out, showing a multitude of different industries how to use the technology for situational awareness, and that’s why we saw such a great fit for VR and training: emergency response personnel, public safety folks. There are a real urgency and a real need in society to help address some training aspects. And so it was just a really natural fit. The timing could not have been better, but the timing also is a piece of a challenge that we’re kind of forced to deal with. The commercial market and other organizations embracing virtual reality and saying, well, is it – is it really just a lot of hype? And so we’ve had to push through all of that and create demo footage because people want to see.
We started out with football, but – and people love that in this area, but you can’t go into a law enforcement agency and show football. And nothing against it, it’s just they want to see what are you doing and how are you going to make police officers’ training more effective, more meaningful. And so really our – the way we got going was building relationships, getting out in front, and meeting with organizations and saying, hey, we have a better solution that’s affordable and scalable.
David: We also looked at it from the standpoint of, you know, a lot of people think about VR/Virtual Rreality as gaming or entertainment. But if you think about being able to give back a little bit to organizations like Jen mentioned, in a new way – if you think about training in general and the tools that they use, Power Point came in 20-some years ago. People started using film and video 30 years ago. What’s been the new tool since then? Well, you have online courses, which, unfortunately, people have a tendency to click through. But VR is that next tool. It actually is. When we put people in a headset, especially professional folks that are training for a living, they get it immediately.
Chuck: So would you say now that you guys have been in this, you know, doing 360 video and training for a while and doing the educational piece, has the reception been kind of more positive as you guys have done this? Is it easier to convince people to do this kind of stuff now versus when you first got into it?
Jennifer: Yeah. The demo footage helped us out the most. I mean, it’s really – like David said, once you put a headset on, you really understand it. You understand. And then we sit around a table and for hours you can come up with ideas. And that’s where the excitement goes. When you have clients that are more excited about the technology than we are as business owners, it’s like – it’s – it takes it to the next level. There is a tremendous amount of cost savings associated with this type of training as well, which is extremely – and archiving best practices, right? People are retiring. They need a way to keep track of all their training curriculum, and there’s just really not a good solution out there to be able to capture all of this, to create your own content. And we’ll talk a little bit more about that, but there’s not a solution out there that allows for that.
David: Especially when you consider – now, our focus is pushing it into a mobile environment. So when you take a headset like this that is literally about $35 and you pair it with a reasonably current mobile phone and you can offer it to somebody as a training tool, that’s pretty powerful. And so that type of low-cost, affordable distribution mechanism really is going to make the thing work because you can create content all day long; but if you can’t get it down to the level of the student in an affordable manner, what have you got?
Chuck: Yeah. Are there any trends that you guys have noticed kind of in the 360 video space to kind of augment, you know, things like we’re doing right now or just the 360 video recording process in general or –
Jennifer: I think there’s some – there’s some – people are looking, how do you take immersive content, live experiences, and make them more interactive. So we’re seeing plug-ins and new types of software applications that can be added to enhance live experiences. Live casting, so maybe you want to talk a little bit about that; that’s exciting for us.
David: So live casting, just as we’re doing now, is hugely popular because it’s a new way for folks to reach out via their social media channels. But if you think about taking an immersive live cast, live casting in VR, that takes it to a whole nother level because not only can you focus on the keynote or the subject matter experts, but you can be in their environment, you can be there just as if you were in that event. And speaking of events and speaking of live casting, think about going to and purchasing a seat at a Seahawks game, but a virtual seat.
David: And that somebody can actually feel like they’re right at a professional football game; and maybe instead of $100 plus $10 beers, it’s $5. And yet, it’s $5 10,000 times over for that seat or 100,000 times over.
Chuck: And the beer is still a lot cheaper, too.
David: Absolutely. The ability to reach into other markets, we haven’t even touched on AR/augmented reality, mixed reality. Some people are now coining XR, which we don’t even know what the X means yet. So all of this is brand new, but when you – when you can take an experience and put somebody in it, that’s the basis of this whole technology, whether it’s training or marketing or event or entertainment. It’s putting something in there like they have not been able to do before.
Chuck: Yeah, that’s really, really fantastic.
David: So as the IVRC, um, you know, you shepherd in the state of Idaho kind of this burgeoning technology.
Chuck: I think we’ve enjoyed that, and thanks to people like you who have made it a lot easier. We still have a few minutes’ time before everybody has to go. Can you guys tell me about any new tools or your new tools that you might be having or putting out there that you want to touch on?
Jennifer: So the [indiscernible] [08:37] VR platform is – what we saw was organizations, training organizations in the space that we’re working, in public safety and emergency response; they’re really looking for an affordable solution. They want to train when they want to train; they want to capture imagery. They want to do – they asked to do it themselves. So we really wanted to put together an affordable, scalable software platform that would allow organizations, not just law enforcement – it could be medical. I mean, it can – the platform can really have a major impact across multiple industries. But what we wanted to do was be able to take credit now and teach people how to capture good content. One of the challenges with 360 content is there’s not – or VR itself even, there’s not enough really good content out there. So how can you get people to start/engage and create their own content? So we wanted to take – we wanted to kind of try to lead the charge with that. Teach people our best shooting practices, get them involved in creating their own training curriculum, and then benefit by able to use this platform where they can capture their own content, edit it, archive it, put it into a really nice library, if you will, all based on a mobile app. And so it makes – everything then is customized to them. It’s their people in their workplaces doing their processes and procedures. And so it was just really well-received in the communities and the different organizations that we talk to.
Chuck: I have to imagine that that’s a really attractive offering because as price comes down, you can do it all yourself –
Chuck: – versus, you know having to pay somebody to come out and shoot every single video and then archive and put it together for you.
David: And not only that, but building a community. For instance, the Idaho State Police may be able to budget, but the ISP can share their content if they choose to with other agencies that aren’t quite as large for just buying a seat at the table.
Jennifer: Yeah, so it kind of drives the concept of sharing of best practices. And if there’s an opportunity for some levels of standardization in training best practices, um, to be able to afford that – and our real passion comes from supporting rural communities that have big-city problems but they don’t have big-city budgets.
Chuck: Big-city budgets.
Jennifer: Right? And so again, that’s, you know, hospitals, nurses, law enforcement, public safety, I mean, any emergency response preparation. Active shooter stuff, any of those types of scenarios that can unfold.
Chuck: It sounds like you guys got something that’s completely useful and we’ll definitely be keeping an eye on you.
Jennifer: Yeah. We appreciate the opportunity.
David: Yes, we do.
Chuck: I want to thank both you guys not only for telling us a little bit about 360 Immersive and You Share, but for having us over here. And so, all you guys, keep an eye out and stay tuned, and we’ll be back soon.