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Embodied Cognition: Thinking with Your Whole Body

As human beings, we are always learning. Every day our brains process and store new information learned from experiences that can be used to further direct our lives.

But despite what you may think, it’s not just your brain doing the thinking.

The theory of embodied cognition states that your entire body is involved in thinking and learning. It’s one of many reasons that training through virtual reality is so incredibly powerful.

What is it?

Differing from the new theory of embodied cognition, the theory of dualism states that the brain does all the thinking while merely directing the body to function.

The theory of embodied cognition, on the other hand, paints a more connected picture of the brain and body. Many today believe that we process information about our world through the context of our bodies. George Lakoff and Mark Johnson’s pioneering work Metaphors We Live By applied this theory to language, finding that people across cultures connected the same concepts with similar phenomena related to the body. For example, we tend to think of the past as being behind us, and the future as in front of us.

Learning from the Outside In

Another way to think of embodied cognition is by considering the many ways we learn and understand. A child learning about apples might hear the word ‘apple,’ but will also see real apples as well as pictures of them; they may learn where apples are kept in the kitchen, and how an apple tastes. All of these pieces of information work together to form the idea of an apple in the brain.

All of this is to say that we learn more effectively when we can think and interact with our subjects in many different ways. The problem comes when what we have to learn cannot be interacted with. That’s where virtual reality can help.

Researchers Susan Jang and Jonathan Vitale demonstrated this by using VR to teach anatomy to medical students. They made a 3D model of the inner ear, a complex and hidden anatomical structure, and let one-half of their study participants manipulate it in VR while the other half watched 2D video replays from the VR sessions. The VR group scored an average 20% higher when tested on the structure of the inner ear, regardless of how much they knew before the study.

Foundry 45’s immersive learning experiences put the theory of embodied cognition into action in order to assist in employee training. As part of our recent collaboration with Delta Air Lines, we simulated a full runway environment for users to explore. Our experience lets trainees learn runway safety and pre-flight procedures with their whole bodies, picking up debris and pointing out airplane damage.

A Piece of the Puzzle

Does this mean that books and classroom teaching are dead as a method of learning? Of course not. Written material will always be an essential part of learning. But new methods, such as virtual reality and embodied cognition, can definitely have a positive impact as a complement to go in tandem with traditional methods of education.

VR is not a panacea for education but instead a supplemental tool to deepen understanding and engage learners in a whole new way.

Dr. Lindsay Portnoy, Digital Culturist

Edutainment in VR: The Best of Both Worlds

Today, people are more aware of virtual reality than ever before. This emerging technology is all over the news and social media. Until now, much of this coverage has been focused on the VR video game industry, which is just one application for virtual reality. At Foundry 45, we build fun experiences with a purpose. We describe these as VR Edutainment.

Edutainment through Gamification?

Gamification is the process of turning concepts into fun learning experiences with games. We use gamification in many of our VR Edutainment products.

VR is immersive: everything you see and hear is part of a digitally designed experience, made for a specific purpose. This new way of training can help people learn by getting rid of extrasensory distractions. It also gives educators the chance to teach in ways that would otherwise be impossible with books.

Children using virtual reality to learn - an example of VR Edutainment

Imagine…

  • Kids learning about astronomy by going to space
  • Older workers learning new skills by playing games
  • Foreign language learners experiencing new cultures without ever leaving their town

That’s what VR Edutainment can do.

How We Do VR Edutainment

The Weather Company came to us with an interesting problem: they had a great new mobile app, but they had to be sure that everyone on their team knew what it could do.

Many employees learn best when they are having fun, so we decided to use VR Edutainment to accomplish both tasks. While navigating through the new features of the updated app, users had an opportunity to set an alert for an upcoming snow storm.

A member of The Weather Company team tries out Foundry 45's VR Edutainment experience

Later in the experience, that storm alert went off, triggering the start of the gamified section. That’s when users became “forces of nature,” throwing solar balls to melt the blankets of snow covering the world around them. The more snow they dissolved, the more points they scored.


Foundry 45’s unique blend of fun and learning made for an experience that people wanted to play again and again. Our VR Edutainment is changing how The Weather Company and many others teach what’s important to them.

The Real Difference Between VR Training & VR Education


In today’s business environment, employee development is more important than ever, and Virtual Reality (VR) has become a powerful tool for training and educating employees. The terms “VR Training” and “VR Education” are similar and are often used interchangeably. There is certainly some overlap, but they are not the same thing.

So, what’s the difference between the two?

VR Training focuses on more of the “What.” What specific task needs to be accomplished? Oftentimes, these are hard skills, like how to repair a piece of assembly line equipment.

VR Education is more focused on the “Why.” Why is a general concept important? This type of learning is more foundational and soft skills-focused, often in areas like leadership development.

A Quick Comparison

VR Training:

    • Teaches a specific task
    • Can be separated into steps
    • Does not vary between employees of the same position
  • Is administered short-term

VR Education:

    • Teaches abstract and critical thinking skills
    • Does not rely on specific knowledge
    • May require different approaches for each employee
  • Requires a long-term commitment

vr education

Mobile VR is perfect for employee learning in many environments

VR TRAINING: SIMULATION STIMULATES SKILLS

More and more industries are using computer simulation to train their workforce. We’ve already detailed how top retailers use VR to train employees in a previous blog post, but industrial markets are well-suited for VR training as well.

Foundry 45’s pump trainer simulation illustrates how an employee is trained on specific, chronological tasks to properly disassemble and reassemble a pump. By following a clear sequence of directions in an immersive space, employees can familiarize themselves with the equipment without potentially harming themselves or damaging equipment.

training-vr-no-risk

Users benefit from VR Training without the risks involved with training in the field

VR EDUCATION: LEARNING TO THINK

To enhance corporate culture, increase worker productivity, and establish the best social and ethical business practices, more global organizations are turning to VR to better prepare employees for a range of training practices.

Today’s research suggests that the environment in which we learn greatly affects the impact of our education. Immersive 360 videos and VR experiences allow training managers to tailor educational experiences to their exact organizational needs. These experiences can then be reproduced for scores of employees.

Foundry 45’s The Weather Company experience is a great example of this. The first half of the experience is an educational overview of the most important aspects of The Weather Channel’s new mobile app. The second half is a gamified element that makes the learning stick. Employees leave the experience ready to explain the app’s updates to anyone outside the team.

vr-education-mobile-app

VR Education explains The Weather Company’s new mobile app

THE BOTTOM LINE

It’s no surprise that employees at every level can benefit from training to better perform their duties, and from education to develop a common mindset throughout an organization. It’s now up to innovative companies to use new technology like VR to help provide team members with the skills they need to grow.

HTC Vive Setup & Troubleshooting Guide

This guide will explain how to setup the Vive and troubleshoot commons errors. We’ll also include tips we’ve learned after setting up the Vive hundreds of times, introducing thousands of people to VR. And if this guide doesn’t solve your problem, Vive support is generally phenomenal (Of course, if you’re our customer, please don’t hesitate to call us!).

Hardware Setup

*Tip: start charging the controllers while you setup everything else

Space

The amount of space you’ll need will depend on your experience. If the user only needs to stand and take a step or 2, a 6×6 ft space can work. 10×10 ft is recommended, and non-square areas can also work (10×6 ft).

Base Stations

The base stations should ideally be on opposite corners and about 8 ft tall. The controllers and Vive headset must all “see” the base stations to operate. Diagonal positioning prevents a user’s body from blocking this line of sight, and the height prevents people standing in the play area from blocking the line of sight.

base-station-setup-diagonal

Diagonal Base Station Setup

The base station stations should be set to channels “b” and “c” by pressing the button on the back of the base stations. 2.0 base stations have 16 channels–each base station should be set to a different channel with a paper clip.

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Base Station V1 Channel Button

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V2 Base Station Change Channel Button

Channel is displayed in the bottom left of the base station (v1 only). For 2.0 base stations, hover your mouse over the icon in Steam VR to see the station.

Most experiences will still work if you need to set the base stations on one side rather than diagonal, e.g., experiences where the user faces one direction most of the time. In this case, the system should be calibrated so the user is facing the base stations.

base-station-setup-one-side

Dual Desk Base Station Setup

*Tip: Reflective surfaces can confuse the Vive (glass windows, glass white boards, TVs, marble floors). Base station 2.0s are much more affected by reflective surfaces! If you have a large-room setup, try only using (2) 2.0 base stations. We had to cover a marble floor with carpet at one location.
*Tip: Don’t mount the base stations to anything that will be bumped, like trade show curtain walls.

Computer Setup

In general, the wires will only fit where they belong. One thing to point out: we recommend using a mini-DP cable between the computer and Link Box, and NOT a HDMI cable. This is necessary on many laptops to ensure the graphics card is used and not the motherboard built-in graphics.
*Tip: Consider taping down the Vive cable before it goes into the Link Box. This prevents users from accidentally pulling out the cable.

vive-pro-link-box-setup

HTC Vive Pro Link Box

Base station light codes: green good, blue: stabilizing (make sure mounted to something sturdy–there’s a spinning motor inside), purple: syncing, blinking purple: can’t sync. The base stations must be able to see each other. Consider the sync cable (long cable with audio jack ends) if a ceiling fan or other object blocks the base stations from seeing each other (also change channels to A&B).

Initial Setup on a New Computer

A sizable amount of software needs to be installed, which can take up to an hour. Go to https://www.vive.com/us/setup/ to download and install the software. Note: HTC & Valve require you to make an HTC account and Steam (video game app store) account, respectively. For enterprise applications, Vive software can be installed without also installing the video game store Steam.

*Tip: After running a Vive application for the first time, an application called “SteamVR” will launch. Right click on this and pin it to the task bar. This is the only software you need to use VR and calibrate the system. We recommend preventing Steam from auto-starting with Windows.

steam-vr-taskbar

Pin Steam VR to the Taskbar

 

Controller Pairing

After turning on the controllers, you should see a solid green LED on the Vive headset and controllers.

green-led-vive-headset

Green LED on Vive Headset

Try moving the headset and clicking the trigger on the controllers if the LEDs aren’t solid green. If the controller LEDs are blue, you’ll need to re-pair them. Select Devices –> Pair. Then hold down the Settings and Menu button on the controller.

*Tip: The controller LEDs turn white when vibrating.

steam-vr-controller-pairing

Pairing Controllers in Steam VR

pair-vive-controller

Hold both buttons to turn on the controller and begin pairing

 

Calibration / Room Setup

Before using the Vive, you must calibrate it to the room, which essentially tells the computer where the virtual world should exist in the real world, and importantly, where the real walls are. Inside VR, Vive will show users a “chaperon” mesh when they get close to real walls.

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Chaperone Mesh in VR

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The Chaperone Mesh keeps you from making any dangerous collisions

If the SteamVR software detects that the system has not been calibrated, it will auto-launch a program called “Room Setup”. You can also launch this from the SteamVR menu.

steam-vr-room-setup

Room Setup in Steam VR

 

“Run Room Setup” lets you trace the walls with a controller, and this is great if you have non-rectangular play area.

We generally use a much faster calibration process, available in the Settings of SteamVR.

  1. Set the headset on the ground in the center of the play area, facing the direction you want to be front.
  2. Select Settings from the SteamVR menu
  3. Select Developer on the left

  1. Scroll down until the Quick Calibrate settings are available
  2. Select a room size (small is about 6×6 ft, large is about 12x12ft)
  3. Click “Calibrate”

Not only is this method faster, but it effectively allows you disable the chaperon by configuring a larger room than the physical space allows. In many demos, we’re physically present to help keep people from running into walls, and we prefer to avoid the “what’s this mesh?” question. Interestingly, people will generally not try to go through virtual walls, so a small virtual room will act as a chaperon itself.

Important: After calibrating the Vive, test your experience! Oftentimes, the center point or direction will need to be changed based on how the virtual world lines up with the real one. For a trade show, you’ll likely want people facing out and not to a back wall.

*Tip: To disable the system button on your Vive controllers, navigate to the developer tab and turn off the default “Enable VR Dashboard.”

disable-system-button-vive

Disable Controller System Button

First User Introduction

After introducing so many new people to VR, we’ve learned a few tips that help ensure you get a “Wow” reaction.

  • Glasses
    • Vive Original: Take your glasses off–most people can see fine without them
    • Vive Pro: Keep your glasses on! The Pro has much more room for glasses. The lens distance can be increased if glasses hit the lenses. This should be minimized to keep the field of view large if not needed.
    • Bifocals & progressives: these are the most challenging, but users can sometimes adjust the position of their glasses on their nose to get a good image.
  • Before putting the headset on
    • Show the user the controller and which buttons they’re need BEFORE putting the headset on. Let them click the buttons to see what they feel like.
    • Also, show them the adjustment wheel.
  • Headset
    • Press the face cushion on the user’s face and THEN slide the head strap over their head. This prevents damaging glasses and generally produces a better first fit.

      htc-vive-hmd

      Place HMD on face before sliding head strap back over the head

    • Recommend that the user get the strap fairly tight to get a good image
    • Ask if the image is blurry, 90% of the time this can be fixed by wiggling the headset up and down a little.
    • The top head strap can be adjusted for extra small or big heads or hair
    • For longer uses, consider adjusting the IPD.
  • First Steps
    • First time users sometimes don’t realize they can turn their head and walk, have them take a few steps forward and backwards before starting. If using the chaperon, have them walk to the edge to see the warning grid.
    • Remind people they can walk throughout, some new users will lean out dangerously far to grab things rather than walk!

Troubleshooting

  • If the following suggestions don’t help, restart the computer and unplug / replug the link box.
  • Controllers move on their own in VR
    • Most of the time, this is due to something blocking the line of sight between the controller and a base station.
    • Other possibilities: reflective surfaces, other Vives!
  • World is strangely tilted
    • Recalibrate and / or restart computer
  • World is shaking, moving
    • Make sure base stations aren’t being bumped
  • Black screen
    • Make sure the LED on the headset is green. If red, restart SteamVR.
      In the case that its still Red, restart computer and power cycle the Link Box.
    • If using an HDMI cable, try a Mini-DP video cable
    • This could be faultly hardware, unfortunately. Contact VIVE support so they can assist you with submitting a more detailed system log to check for more advanced problems.
  • No audio
    • Make sure the system audio is set to Vive
    • Restart your experience application
  • Choppy view
    • Make sure laptop power supply is connected. Some laptops throttle performance when on battery.

Room-Scale VR Buying Guide

The equipment needed for Room-scale VR (being able to walk around, pick up and use items, and generally physically interact with the world) costs $1500 to $5k (plus tax)* depending on the level of graphics needed, portability, travel cases, and commercial warranty coverage.

*Note: We’ll try to keep this article updated, but prices are likely to drop going forward.

VR Hardware

The Rift is cheapest, but doesn’t support as large of a play area, which is why we recommend Vive. It’s generally not too hard to port software from system to another, but it depends on the application. The main advantage of the Pro is higher resolution and a headset that fits more heads and glasses. The new base stations in the Pro Kit support a larger play area and multi-user VR. We recommend the Vive Pro Start Kit for most applications.

  • Oculus Rift ($400) + extra sensor $59
  • Vive original ($500) + audio strap ($99) – currently out of stock everywhere
  • Vive Pro
    • Starter Kit ($1098), Pro headset + original base stations
    • Pro Kit ($1399), Pro headset + new base stations
    • Commercial use warranty ($200 – $300) – supports large user use at trade shows & training stations, also provides faster hardware replacement in case of problems
  • Tripods ($46)
  • Miscellaneous
    • Mini-DP video cable ($8) – needed for Vive on laptops
    • Extension cord ($20) – 25ft, 3 outlet end saves on needing another power strip
    • Power strip with USB charging ports ($21) – supports international voltages and sockets
    • Replacement face cushion / mask ($29) – the stock foam on Vive is hard to clean makeup off and sponges up sweat.
    • Gaffer tape ($17) – often you have to run a cord across a doorway — we always tape down cords as a safety precaution.
    • Alcohol wipes ($10) – we wipe off the face cushion regularly, especially after someone with makeup.
    • Backup base station ($139) – The Vive is pretty reliable, but the base stations have moving parts and are more at risk of breaking. If it’s important, we travel with two complete setups.
  • Travel Case ($428) – Pelican Air 1615 with Trekpak dividers – fits the stands, laptop and Vive, and even gets under the 50lb weight limit. After 50+ trips around the world, we can’t recommend enough.

Vive-Pro-Pelican-Case

Two Vive Pro Systems fitted comfortably in a Pelican Case

Computer

At a minimum, we recommend a GTX 1070 graphics card and i7-7700K processor. Get a GTX 1080 and i7-8700K or i9 processor for better graphics (realism) and future proofing. If you’re going portable, be sure to get a 15″ laptop to save on weight and fit in the pelican case we recommend above.

  • Desktop ($1349) – GTX 1070 + i7-8700 – this brand is our goto inexpensive desktop
  • Desktop high end ($1800) – GTX 1080 TI + i7-8700
  • Laptop low end ($1499)) – MSI with GTX 1070 + i7-7700HQ
  • Recommended: Laptop mid-tier ($1850) – Alienware with GTX 1070 and i7-8750H
  • Laptop high end ($2749) – Alienware with GTX 1080 and i9-8950HK

SXSW 2018 360 Recap!

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 31 years since SXSW started! The Conference, best known for bringing together some of the greatest minds in the music, film, and interactive industries was once again amazing, as people from all over the world touched down in Austin, TX from March 9-18, 2018.

The Foundry 45 team was there again and pulled together this 360 degree video of what the conference vibe was like. We were fortunate to partner with our friends at the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and ChooseATL for the third year in a row, and they never cease to amaze us with how they stamp the Atlanta experience down in the middle of Austin. Check out the crowds and the special guest performance by Atlanta rapper, T.I.!

We gave visitors at the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s Job Market booth an HTC Vive virtual reality trade show experience where they were transported to the city of Atlanta so they could see why they should ChooseATL.

SXSW-ChooseATL

ChooseATL booth at SXSW

And, as a special treat, we also thought it would be “totally rad” to share some of the coolest tech gadgets that hit the streets back at the first SXSW in the year 1987! Here’s a little blast from the past (and some sweet Jams Shorts…), as best compiled by Cnet … https://www.cnet.com/pictures/this-was-the-hottest-tech-30-years-ago-in-1987/

Getting the Most Out of Your 360 Degree Video at Live Events

Georgia Tech’s TaQuon Marshall coming right at you for his third touchdown of
the game. Be sure to spin this 360 degree video around to see the
fans in Mercedes Benz Stadium going nuts!

The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game between Tennessee and Georgia Tech is officially in the books. And our Foundry 45 team was there to capture all of the highlights in 360 degree video for the Georgia Tech Athletics Department.

The second game at Atlanta’s new Mercedes Benz Stadium gave fans what they paid for including a fourth quarter comeback that turned into a double-overtime thriller! The atmosphere inside the sold-out stadium was electric, with most of the fans experiencing for the first time one of 13 truly game-changing stadiums built in the last two decades.

Over the years, our team has captured some truly amazing sporting content for Georgia Tech (check out our Georgia Tech Case Study for more info). We have used footage across multiple divisions but mainly to elevate the university’s student recruiting efforts. Some highlights include the “Miracle on Techwood Drive” in 2015 when the Yellow Jackets miraculously blocked a kick and returned for a touchdown against the Florida State Seminoles.

WSBTV News Story on the GT Football VR Experience

Or, earlier this year when Georgia Tech’s basketball team stunned Notre Dame with a last-second layup. Check out this related interview on 11alive’s Atlanta Tech Edge.

While some of this can be chalked up to “being at the right place at the right time”, it’s with proper planning and a whole lot of coordination that we were able to record many of these amazing game moments.

Below we’ve compiled 5 things you can do to get the most out of your live 360 degree video event session.

  1. Location, Location, Location. Work closely with your VR team to scout multiple filming locations in advance. If shooting with one camera, find a suitable spot so that VR viewers feel closer to the action than those in attendance.
  2. Be flexible, and stay mobile. While stationary cameras are essential, have team members use mobile video recording setups as well. It’ll pay dividends in post-production and will also result in more B-roll footage.
  3. Pre-event, post-event, (locker room). If you’re recording a sports game, capture the pep-rally, stay for the post-game party (in case that happens), and check with your client if you can get permission to set up a 360 camera in the team’s locker room for the pre-game pep talk.
  4. Check, double-check, and triple-check your equipment. You want to be absolutely sure that your cameras are ready to capture the potential play of the season. This includes everything from back-up batteries, charging stations and equipment tests pre-event.
  5. It’s all about the story. Your ultimate goal is to tell a compelling story that moves beyond the traditional experience of going to the stadium. Having a detailed shot list in advance and working with your VR team to come up with mandatory items and extras keeps everyone focused and ensures you get the right footage.

Keeping these points in mind will put you in a much better position to create an engaging and memorable 360-video experience for viewers. And if you want to know more about how to best distribute 360-video content, check out one of our previous posts here.

ABOUT FOUNDRY 45

Foundry 45 is The Business VR Leader. We create immersive Virtual Reality (VR) experiences for mobile platforms including HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, iOS Cardboard Headsets, Android Cardboard Headsets. Foundry 45 helps businesses step into their brand story by using dynamic 360-degree video and VR app creation. Our marketing and recruiting approach captures customer experience desires and emphasize product value. We also partner with existing video production studios, advertising agencies, and other content creators to serve as their VR technical consultants and developer shop.

To learn more about Foundry 45, visit us at www.foundry45.com.

For Immersive VR inquiries, contact Managing Partner:

Dave Beck, dave@foundry45.com
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Google Cardboard vs Samsung GearVR Virtual Reality Headsets

The two most accessible platforms for Virtual Reality (VR) content right now are Google Cardboard and Samsung’s GearVR. Both only require a mobile phone to operate.

How do they work?
gearvr_vs_cardboard_lenses

Both use a smartphone as the display, and have lenses that make the small screen fill your entire field of view. The phone sensors are used to detect where you’re looking so that a Virtual Reality app can update the display.

Overall Performance and Compatibility
GearVR provides a high-end experience. The lens are bigger and the headset is specifically designed and tuned for a number of the latest Samsung phones, including Galaxy Note5, Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 edge, Galaxy S6 edge+, Samsung Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 Edge, Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+. These high end phones provide high resolution, fast updates to head movements, and large screens–overall a very immersive experience.

As opposed to the Gear VR, almost any recent smartphone will work in Google Cardboard. The more high-end smartphones in our opinion yield experiences closer to the Gear VR. An older phone with one of the earlier Cardboard designs will not have as big of screen or respond to head movements as fast which produces a less immersive experience. But no matter the platform, the first time impact using VR is almost always jaw dropping.

Cost
The current Gear VR costs $99, but also requires a new Samsung phone, which range from $600 – $900 off contract. Google Cardboard in single units costs about $20, but can get down to $5 in quantity.

Use Cases

branded_cardboard_virtual_reality

Custom branded cardboard virtual reality viewers

Many companies custom print Cardboard as a giveaway or mailer. Cardboard provides a way for a brand to connect with an exciting new technology, and give a customer a branded takeaway that they can continue to use with many other apps.

virtual_reality_trade_show_gear_vr

Gear VR is best for trade shows or in-person visits. Check out our blog post on how to best use a Gear VR at your next trade show!

Whether Cardboard or Gear VR, companies typically develop a custom app to showcase their products. For example, the New York Times produced an app that contained 360 degree videos, including one from a refugee camp. Star Wars released small videos daily in the days before release of the latest film. Several of our clients like BetterCloud or Probrew have also created Cardboard apps to showcase their experiences. Cardboard apps are usually delivered through the Apple AppStore for iPhones or Google’s Play Store for Android. Samsung has a store for Gear VR, but has so far only allowed very few apps in. This is usually not a problem, as apps can be directly installed on devices rather than going through the Samsung store.

If you have questions about how to utilize Virtual Reality for recruiting or marketing, or would like help producing a custom virtual reality app, please let us know.

ABOUT FOUNDRY 45

Foundry 45 is The Business VR Leader. We create immersive Virtual Reality (VR) experiences for mobile platforms including HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, iOS Cardboard Headsets, Android Cardboard Headsets. Foundry 45 helps businesses step into their brand story by using dynamic 360-degree video and VR app creation. Our marketing and recruiting approach captures customer experience desires and emphasize product value. We also partner with existing video production studios, advertising agencies, and other content creators to serve as their VR technical consultants and developer shop.

To learn more about Foundry 45, visit us at www.foundry45.com.

For Immersive VR inquiries, contact Managing Partner:

Dave Beck, dave@foundry45.com.

Follow Us!

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How to Distribute 360 Video and VR Content

When distributing 360 video and Virtual Reality content, being familiar with the available platforms will help you reach your intended audience. In this post, Foundry 45 breaks down the available VR platforms according to their accessibility and level of immersion. Generally, the more expensive platforms are more immersive, but less accessible. Consequently, a trade off exists in that the more accessible a platform is, the less immersive it is. This summary will help you decide which distributing method will work for you! Also keep in mind that a combination of these distribution channels can be used in order to maximize the marketing potential of a VR experience!

For an introduction, watch this short video of our Managing Partner and Co-Founder Dave Beck discussing the benefits of creating a branded VR experience and how to decide on your distribution channel!

Least Immersive and Most Accessible: 360 Degree Video for YouTube & Facebook 

Uploading your 360 video to YouTube or Facebook will allow for the widest distribution of your content. As of March 2017, there have been over a million 360 videos posted to Facebook and between Facebook and Youtube, 360 videos have amassed over a billion views! These platforms allow you to share your 360 content instantly with friends and potential consumers by letting them access it with their phones or desktop computers. On a smart phone, being able to physically rotate your device to discover different parts of the experience allows hands-on engagement from any user.

Don’t waste anytime and view our Adult Swim behind-the-scenes 360 footage on Adult Swim’s Facebook page!

More Immersive but Slightly Less Accessible: Google Cardboard

Smartphone users can increase their level of immersion by taking advantage of a Google Cardboard mobile headset created for both iPhone and Android devices. The tool blocks off your peripheral vision and holds your phone in place as you undergo the experience. According to Google’s Blog on Feb. 28, 2017, there have been “more than 10 million Cardboard viewers shipped worldwide,” and “there have been 160 million downloads of Cardboard apps on Google Play—and 30 of those apps have more than 1 million downloads.”  However, not everyone owns a Cardboard headset, so many groups like to provide it for viewers to experience their content. Providing a branded cardboard headset at an activation event is a fantastic way to make sure people remember your experience!

For a premiere Cardboard experience, easily download our Mohawk app through iTunes and Google Play.

360 Videos posted on YouTube are cardboard compatible, but users can also download cardboard apps from the Play Store or iTunes Marketplace. Most professional Virtual Reality applications available for download will be Cardboard compatible.

Moderately Immersive and Accessible: Mobile VR Headsets — Samsung Gear VR / Google Daydream

Progressing to deeper immersion, we now arrive at the Gear VR and Google Daydream headsets which enhance Virtual Reality experiences. Both headsets further the sensation that you are in a different environment, and also allow for more interactivity and user control throughout the experience. These VR headsets can access over 500 apps including games and official company experiences. According to market estimates, there will be over 10 million Samsung Gear VRs and 2.5 million Daydreams in the wild by 2018.

The enhanced immersion provided by these headsets comes at a cost which affects their accessibility. The cost to purchase these full systems (both headset and the smartphone that serves as the screen and the processor) is in the $700 range, which makes the audience size smaller for these platforms. Also, the Gear VR headset is only compatible with Samsung Galaxy devices and the Google Daydream is only compatible with Google Phones. Sorry, iPhone peeps!

iPhone Destroy | Foundry 45

If you don’t have one, please reach out to us for a demo or feel free to test out these headsets at a local VR tech meet-up. Feel free to check out our other blog posts about the amazing Samsung Gear VR headset as well!

Most Immersive and Least Accessible: Room-Scale VR — HTC Vive and Oculus Rift

These top-end platforms for Virtual Reality are some of the most immersive digital mediums in human history! Scientists and philosophers thought this type of technology was only fantasy a few centuries ago.


See?

Both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift create full room-scale experiences that cannot be replicated with other products. The level of immersion blows the other platforms out of the water as you’re able to walk, explore, move objects, and build within their experiences. The responsive environments and elaborate tasks you can complete can entrance any user. Both platforms feature a headset and controllers wired to a computer that enable the user to interact with the experience. At the end of 2016, the Oculus Rift had sold 240,000 units and the HTC Vive had sold 420,000 units, and currently the combined sales of these two products is estimated to be just over a million.

Check out this awesome demonstration from Valve about the capabilities of the HTC Vive!

Obviously this cutting edge technology doesn’t come cheap as both the Vive and Rift have a price tag that hovers around $1500 for the VR systems and a high powered computer to run them. As technology grows, these products should become more friendly to a mainstream budget, but for the time being, these products will mostly being owned by hardcore VR enthusiasts. Odds are if you want to develop an experience that uses these platforms, you need to have your own system ready for others to use! We would highly recommend these types of experiences for face to face interactions as people will quite literally line up for their turn with your experience.

Level of immersion | Foundry 45

In regards to the variety of platforms that VR can be published to, there seems to be an inverse relationship between accessibility and immersion. The more accessible a platform is, the less immersive it is and vice versa. The more a product costs, the more immersive it will be, but the less people will be able to use it. When choosing what platform to develop your VR content for, determining the size and preferred platform of your target audience is crucial for the success of your content. The most accessible platforms are 360 videos on social media and the most immersive are the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

ABOUT FOUNDRY 45

Foundry 45 is the business VR leader. We create immersive Virtual Reality (VR) experiences for room scale (HTC Vive and Oculus Rift) and mobile VR platforms (Samsung Gear VR, Google Daydream, and Cardboard for iOS and Android). Foundry 45 helps businesses step into their brand story by using dynamic 360 video and VR app creation. Our marketing and recruiting approach captures customer experience desires and emphasizes product value. We also partner with existing video production studios, advertising agencies, and other content creators to serve as their VR technical consultants and developer shop.

To learn more about Foundry 45, visit us at www.foundry45.com.

For Immersive VR inquiries, contact Managing Partner:

Dave Beck, dave@foundry45.com

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