If I sat you down twenty years ago and described to you a world where self-driving cars, 3D printers, and virtual reality all co-existed, you’d accuse me of plagiarizing a cliché Sci-Fi novel.
If I carried on further and said VR tech granted you the illusion of flight, ability to step inside a painting, and alter the physical forces of the Universe, you might just call me crazy. But alas, all of the above now exist.
It’s amazing how far technology has evolved in the past couple decades. Virtual reality (VR), in particular, has gone from a crazy-haired futurist’s pipedream to a rabidly expanding tech market in only a few years.
The VR/AR market grew from 6.1 billion in 2016 to 11.4 billion in 2017, and is forecasted to grow to an astonishing 215 billion by 2021!
Nowhere is the VR market’s rabid expansion more clearly visible than in New York City, which has done everything it can to make itself the hub of this burgeoning market sector.
Virtual Reality in New York City
As VR technology has become more available and less costly, New York City has seen an explosion of different applications and businesses form.
While the most common uses of VR today are in entertainment, entrepreneurs are constantly finding new ways to apply the technology to different industries.
NYC is currently home to VR World – the largest VR Experience center in the world, Jump Into the Light – a virtual reality cinema, dozens of VR startups, and the city also recently invested $6 million in funding a new VR/AR lab in partnership with NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering and CUNY Lehman College.
In a press release, Mayor Bill De Blasio said, “Augmented and Virtual Reality represents a huge new industry, and we want New York City to be second to none,” he says. “We’re investing in the space, the talent, and the research needed to make New York the global hub for this emerging technology.”
The new center will support new VR/AR ventures, research, innovation, and fostering a community. The center is predicted to generate approximately 500 jobs over the next decade.
Given the city’s demonstrated warmth towards VR and surplus of creative and technological talent, it’s no wonder so many VR startups have chosen to call NYC home.
Max Bolotov, VP Account Director, Executive Producer at Koncept VR, had the following to say about VR in NYC.
"As the global advertising hub, NYC is home to organizations that seek to combine innovation and marketing campaigns. VR is the current manifestation of that convergence. With its near limitless potential, I have no doubt that long format, Hollywood-style VR movies are imminently arriving."
Let’s take a closer look at Koncept VR and some of the other companies leading the charge in VR technology.
Mapping the Landscape: New York City VR Startups
Virtual Reality: Cinematic Experiences
The most common uses of VR today are in the realm of film and video.
Koncept VR offers their clients “concept-driven 360° video production.”
A subsidiary of Freedom360, the company behind the first 360° VR camera mount, Koncept creates VR cinematic experiences intended for viewing via head-mounted displays.
They demonstrate innovative use of panoramic projection and immersive cinema for their clients.
Technicolor, another VR creative agency, also uses VR technology to create augmented and virtual life experiences for brands and production companies.
They create everything from marketing pieces, such as virtual tours and brand experience content to documentary-style VR content often focused on raising social awareness around various issues and causes.
They also handle sound design and audio mixing for their VR productions.
Moving even more in the direction of Hollywood is Framestore VR Studio. This studio “combines highly immersive interactive experiences with Oscar-winning visuals.”
Their website boasts “We are uniquely placed as the first and most awarded Virtual Reality studio in the world, bringing Hollywood caliber visuals to the theatre of immersion.”
In addition to filming, directing, and producing world-class VR experiences, Framestore also offers VR workshops for agencies, brands, and individuals interested in VR innovation and the technology’s exciting future.
Hello World Communications also produces VR / AR content for clients, such as CBS Digital, MSN, and Saatchi and Saatchi.
In addition, they’ve also found value in the realm of VR filmmaking equipment rentals.
If you’re a filmmaker interested in creating a VR production but don’t want to cough up the money to buy your own equipment, you can rent the latest video, audio, and photo VR equipment from Hello World and spare yourself the costly investment.
VR Expands into New Frontiers
While VR’s use in film and video seems like a natural application of the technology, many companies are beginning to find unique and new ways to use VR / AR.
For instance, You Visit uses VR as a corporate sales and marketing solution. They create panoramic VR experiences to convert prospects in multiple areas, including: college recruiting, hotel marketing, destination marketing, corporate recruiting, and corporate sales.
According to You Visit’s site, “[VR] enables users to engage in a story as deeply as they wish and convert directly from the experience. Averaging 10+ minutes, these longer engagements increase the likelihood of conversions for clients including consumer brands, destinations, corporations, and academic institutions.”
Two other innovative uses of VR we’ve seen from NYC startups are in architecture and medical training.
Insite VR uses VR tech to create virtual models of designs for architects, engineers, and construction planners.
These models allow one to literally walk through a virtual rendering of their designs and see firsthand how their designs will look. Using VR in this way reduces costly errors and helps designers understand their space. The models are also useful in terms of selling prospective designs and properties.
MediVis has also expanded the applications of VR tech by using virtual experiences to train medical professionals in anatomy, allowing future surgeons to explore the human body without risk to any patients.
The benefits of this application are awesome and will likely save countless lives, as surgeons will develop greater expertise before preforming on actual human bodies.
Given the already booming VR market and the exponential forecasted growth, the time is ripe for entrepreneurs to find new uses and applications for this incredible technology.
According to NYC council member Dan Garodnick, “This technology is going to be central to the way we live our lives. We will soon be buying VR apps the way we buy apps for our smartphones.”
If he’s correct, which he most definitely is, there are fortunes to be made.
Will you be part it?