VIRTUAL REALITY: THE FUTURE IS NOW

In conversation with Ankit Dave – Founder and CEO VR on Cloud

Words: Tillana Desai

Google tells me virtual reality is a computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors.

It was hard to understand what that really meant until I experienced it for myself. The future is already here, and we are the first ones to bring you an exclusive interview with it. Excerpts from a conversation with Ankit Dave, founder and CEO, VR on Cloud.

How would you define virtual reality?

In the past we used to watch pictures. Then came videos. 3D followed. What next? These were all mediums of communication and immersion. When you watch a film, you watch what the film maker wants to show you. What if you can be a part of that film and interact with it?

This interacting and experiencing with different environments and scenarios is Virtual Reality. In simpler words, if you want to live in Switzerland without feeling cold, simply wear virtual reality glasses and leave the rest to us.

What kind of technology does it incorporate?

When we talk about technology there are multiple aspects. One is creating the content to showcase it, which falls under two types: rendered content which doesn’t exist like life on Mars doesn’t exist but you can recreate it in using 3D / modelling technologies and live action. Where things do exist, but are not in proximity. This is ideally used for story telling / giving experiences of different scenarios and situations.

The other part is Hardware. It encompasses ‘viewing’; how can you look at those things. For that there are a lot of companies like Google, HTC and Motion who are into ‘VR’ (Virtual Reality). Once you talk about VR, you need interaction. There are multiple ways to interact. Like you move your hands in a swipe motion and you can interact with technology.

OSVR is working on retinas. You can interact by blinking, focusing and defocusing.

A user experiencing the Virtual Roller Coaster

Virtual Roller Coaster

Ankit Dave, Founder and CEO VR on Cloud

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Can you tell us about a few projects you are currently working on?

We have a variety of Virtual Reality projects on hand as of now, the most prominent being for Gujarat Tourism, Rajasthan Tourism and several other states.

We have been covering destinations by 360-degree live action videos. This content is used by marketers who are selling those destinations. They showcased Gujarat virtually at ITB Berlin, which is the world’s biggest international travel show, where people experienced what it felt like being in Gujarat.

The Tourism industry is taking a lot of advantage of Virtual Reality.

We are also working with retail clients where they take their firms virtually to exhibitions. Virtual Reality is slowly replacing brochures and pamphlets with interactive multimedia experiences.

We are also working for product based clients who are turning to Virtual Reality for showcasing their products and day to day routines.

We are also working on Hardware Simulations for the entertainment industry.We are the first ones in India to manufacture a prototype for a virtual roller coaster.

By simply wearing our device, you will enjoy the same thrills you would on a real roller coaster, or a haunted house or even experience flying.

We also provide a platform to photographers and film makers to upload their 360-degree live action photos or videos and help disseminate them by giving them builds for I-phones / Android platforms or whatever they need.

We are the first ones in India to manufacture a prototype for a virtual roller coaster. By simply wearing our device, you will enjoy the same thrills you would on a real roller coaster, or a haunted house or even experience flying.

I experienced your virtual roller coaster and was totally blown away. It was roughly a one-and-a-half-minute ride and the first thing that came to my mind was ‘how long must it have taken for this to be created?’

We started in early 2015 with just the stills in 360 which we brought together on a cardboard.

Eventually we found great potential in it and worked for almost a year and a half with a team of almost 25 people working on it 24 X 7 making things happen.

It has been crazy sometimes and a lot of fun most of the times.

But you experienced the virtual roller coaster and were blown away so our job’s done.

One and a half years for an experience of one and a half minute. Your journey has been like a roller coaster.

It surely has been a long one, but we have a longer way to go.

What does the future of Virtual Reality look like?

Google, Apple, HTC, Samsung – everyone is into virtual reality now.

If such companies are propagating it, I think the future of Virtual Reality looks really successful.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality together form what we call the ‘Mix Reality’ and that is what is doing wonders.

The gaming industry will benefit the most.

The real estate industry will bloom too. Just imagine what it would be like to be able to put on a device and experience a prospective home in multimedia? There won’t be a need to create sample homes, we will create rendered environments and make our users a part of it. This will also help builders quantify what users prefer more. For example, if more people like the balcony, you can track what the user is spending, how much time looking at a particular area of the house.

As humans, architects may tell you what a design may look like. Most of the times we are unable to visualise it. Virtual Reality will solve that too. So just imagine you wear the device and your architect changes the environment using their tablet asking you to select what you like the most. The decision-making process will be shorter and a lot of manpower will be saved. Thoughts will be clearer and so will the vision.

Virtual Roller Coaster Chair

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PortMe Device

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We are the first ones in India to manufacture a prototype for a virtual roller coaster. By simply wearing our device, you will enjoy the same thrills you would on a real roller coaster, or a haunted house or even experience flying.

User experiencing virtual travel

Virtually in Kutch

Rapid Fire:

The biggest challenge you faced in creating this?

Resources and Vision. It was tough to pass on my vision to my team initially; over a period, the same team transformed it into reality.

A Virtual Reality project that impressed you?

Google Earth has come up with this amazing thing where you can view and experience any part of the world sitting in a chair back home. I just read about it recently.

An experience with Virtual Reality that you can never forget?

I was at Bangalore a couple of years ago when I experienced it for the first time. My friend hooked in his phone in a cardboard that I was made to wear on my eyes… and what I experienced was Sheikh Zayed Mosque at Abu Dhabi.

I am yet to come to terms with putting that experience into words but all I can say is that is when I knew what Virtual Reality is really all about I set my heart to it.