And that might be because we’re not really a VR company -- at least not in the conventional sense.
First, a little backstory. Intracon is an international training and consulting company that works mainly with tech companies like HP, Samsung, and Stratasys. We create training and sales enablement content and our clients see us as the “outside experts” who can become specialists to educate people about their new technology on their behalf. We’ve been doing this – via face to face training, video production, web-based training, and training event management – for 20 years and are located in 4 different countries.
What does that have to do with virtual reality? Well, our process has always involved creating custom-built solutions for our clients’ unique challenges. They typically come to us with an objective and we evaluate it and come up with a game plan. So we’re not a “VR company”, because VR may not always be the best fit for our clients’ needs when considering factors like audience, budget, time, and so on. We always want to make sure that VR makes sense for the given situation.
Depending on the objective, there are a lot of benefits that VR can provide that we’re eager to share with our clients. When it comes to communicating information, it doesn’t get much better than having a captive audience wearing an immersive headset. Studies show that VR has the potential to seriously increase user retention and performance. And reports suggest that people have a stronger emotional connection to content viewed in VR compared to other media.
While those factors alone create a compelling argument, the fact that we’ve been able to bring VR to the table at all has also been a result of our long-standing relationships with our clients. When creating an initiative around a new technology like VR, that mutual trust has definitely been a benefit. Beyond just being able to develop in VR, we have the resources and subject matter expertise to take their goal and deliver a finished product that will meet it.
So we spent several years testing and experimenting VR, but we hadn’t found the right fit until 2015. We made our first leap with 3D printing company Stratasys. They wanted to show a 3D printer at events around the world, but the device required two freight airplanes to transport. Suffice to say, it was pretty big! So we proposed that we put the device into a blended VR experience, featuring both immersive 3D environments and some 360 degree video. Now Stratasys can bring their massive 3D printer anywhere, for a fraction of the original cost.
VR also affords us the additional advantage of being able to guide the user more closely while also letting them get more involved. Because of our background in video production and animation, we can easily add voiceover narration and video elements to supplement our VR experiences for a greater impact. We have our own video studios, so we’re able to be incredibly agile with recording and making changes if needed. Our PC-based VR experiences all incorporate Leap Motion, so our users can really interact with the products throughout the narrative. This flexibility with asset production and integration of hand interaction really help to make our experiences more immersive and well-rounded.
Right now we’re in the midst of deploying a series of sales enablement VR experiences that we developed for HP. They’re designed for HP channel partners to introduce and demonstrate some key features for the new A3 MFP portfolio – including a general product intro, a Security challenge against a hacker, and an immersive Healthcare experience showing the printer in its element at a hospital nursing station. These experiences are now running with HP resellers and HP Customer Welcome Centers all over the world on Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Samsung Gear platforms. We’re porting to HP Windows Mixed Reality headset soon, too!
Making sure VR is a good fit for our clients and their audiences is not always easy – localizing our HP A3 VR experiences for their many regions is our next step – but it’s already proving to be worthwhile. The reception has been so positive, we are now developing a new VR experience to deliver technical training. We can’t fully disclose the details of that project yet, but watch this space and follow us on Twitter (@intracon) – we can’t wait to share our VR journey with you!
Jennifer Kennedy is the Digital Content Manager for Intracon