InstaVR Interview SXSW

329 Interview at SXSW 2017 with Andrew Woodberry, Head of Marketing

InstaVR is a Virtual Reality (VR) online editing tool that enables anyone to create VR apps using an easy-to-use WYSIWYG interface. I had the opportunity to interview Andrew Woodberry, head of marketing for InstaVR at the recent SXSW 2017 conference.

And as leaders in this brand new field, Andrew offers key insights into where he thinks VR will be going in the future, and how it may change the UX of how we communicate and interact with each other.

Watch the InstaVR Interview at SXSW 2017

InstaVR Interview Video Transcript

Craig: So with me today is Andrew, and Andrew and I met through his company InstaVR. I think it’s a very cool kind of company that allows people to do their own development of VR programs using a WYSIWYG web-based platform. It’s very very cool! If you haven’t checked it out I suggest you do so.

Don’t worry about it if you don’t have any 360 degree pictures or video because they actually provide some in a tutorial for you to use.

So Andrew, appreciate it, thank you so much for coming. And what I just wanted to ask you a little bit is so tell me about the company. InstaVR, what is it and what should our visitors and viewers here know about it?

Andrew: Sure, I think you nailed the description pretty well. So we’re an online platform for turning 360 images and videos into distributable apps. So you can create an immersive VR experience and have people across the country, across the world experience it. And our approach is to make it as simple as possible.

So right now you can create VR using like a Unity developer for example that can cost a lot of money and take a lot of time.

We try to make things all drag and drop, completely web-based.

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We have a giant engineering client called AECOM. And their strategy, when they send out their VR is to make it so it’s accessible to a college student all the way up to a grandma.

We feel the same way about our platform. Everyone can use it, very simple, and from a corporate level it’s an easy way for companies that don’t have that VR experience to be able to offer that as something to get customers, or to show some trends, a whole bunch of different use cases.

Craig: So very interesting! Thank you! If you had to describe maybe the top two or three reasons why somebody should consider InstaVR to help them with their pain points, what would those be? And how do you help them?

Andrew: Yes, so the first thing is, a lot of 360 cameras on the market but when you capture those images or videos they are kind of siloed onto your camera or onto your laptop. So one of our main pain points that we’re addressing is the ability to distribute those. And it’s really simple, just kind of one click ability to do that.

You can publish to iTunes store, you can publish to Google Play. So that pain point of overcoming, “I have these images, what do I do with them?” is something that we do.

The other is the ability to really augment the experiences. So, you know, you capture your house, right? You want to show it to your relatives far away. You have to add that navigation to allow them to go room to room.

You might want to augment it with something we call “hotspots.” So hotspots allow them to, or allow you to, overlay directly on your images some additional media. So it could be like you look at something and a video starts playing, or audio narration. So this increases the value of those panorama view captures.

Craig: Very cool! Well that’s very interesting. So, next question is really around where is InstaVR going? What’s on your roadmap for the product? What’s coming up?

Andrew: Yes, so we already publish to a lot of platforms, but there’s a couple out there that we’re going to be available for soon. The Oculus Rift is going to be a platform pretty soon that we’re going to be able to publish to. Google Daydream which is seeing pretty decent adoption we’re going to be able to publish to.

And then just from a user design perspective, right now we’re making the menu items a little more accessible. So right now you have to pick the VR experience you want, and then load it and put your phone into a headset. So we’re going to kind of mimic the way Google Daydream has their layout which is you can choose the VR experience from inside the headset, so you never have to remove the headset.

We’re going to add a little gamification to it. I can’t go too deep into that but we get a lot of customers that are saying, “You know, I want to have this interactivity that goes beyond just the standard tour type of approach.” So we’re going to add a bit of gamification.

Craig: Very cool, very cool! So let’s talk a little bit about VR itself, as an industry. What’s coming up for VR in the next 12 months or so? What do you see on the horizon?

Andrew: Yeah. So one of things obviously, adoption of the headsets, which we’re seeing pretty strongly. I mean Samsung I think had about six million headsets distributed. Some of the companies like Gear VR are adding hand consoles as well, Daydream does that. So it’s going to be a bit more interactive than just kind of turning your head. There’s also going to be the ability to do some hand motion. With that I think it’s going to be more immersive.

So when we say the word “immersive” right now a lot of that is just depends on the field of vision and what’s in that view. But the actual interactivity with the app is something that we think going forward is going to grow.

Craig: Very interesting, very interesting! And so let’s look farther out. Let’s look now, you know, the next maybe two, three or four years. Put on your prognostication hat, and tell us what you see the future being.

Andrew: Yeah. I think the idea is that companies can really get you to see their first products, right? If you want to experience what your new kitchen is going to look like with Ikea right now, normally you just have to kind of go to Ikea and like look at different products put together. You’re going to create a whole VR experience putting those together so that in your house you can put on the headset and just kind of visualize it.  You can do that a bit right now with Augment Reality, but with Virtual Reality you can completely transform the entire environment, and you can share it.

So, you know in our mind in the future it’s not unrealistic to think about people, you know, riding subways, everyone with a headset on, kind of experiencing from an entertainment perspective whatever you want to do.

So, like our founder Daniel put together a very popular App called Tokyo VR to kind of give you an immersive tour of Tokyo, right? So perhaps you’re going on a vacation there in a couple weeks. You can put on the headset before you go there while you’re riding to work and kind of experience that. It’s not going to be, the value might stand out, I think in future years it will be as common place as people looking at their cell phones.

Craig: Very interesting, very interesting. And what about education markets, training markets, what do you see happening there?

Andrew: Yeah, we’re very excited about the education market. I was at the Future of Education Technology Conference in Orlando in January and a lot of teachers were coming up to us because as the 360 camera market expands, the ability to do, say, virtual field trips is possible, which is great.

The other thing is actually having students themselves create the VR on our platform. Because you know we are a very simplistic platform, drag and drop, you don’t need to know coding. It’s a great way for you to exercise your creative brain.

So if you use some photography, stock photography for example, you can navigate your own project you put together with those hotspots to make it educational. So, you know, like you’re doing a tour of Austin, you can point out like the UT Austin campus, and then you can have the tower, right? You can have some information about the Tower.

So it really kind of allows you to be creative in a way that right now you have to use pen and paper for. It’s drag and drop and share that with classmates.

Craig: Very cool, very cool.

Andrew: We actually have a client, German University in Cairo. The students did a tour of historical Cairo. They presented and shared it with each other. It’s exactly what I was saying, they went to the buildings with cameras, captured it, augmented it. So it was a really cool way to have a final project that was immersive.

Craig: Awesome, that’s awesome! We’ll have to check that out. Can we see that on the blog, or do we have to go…?

Andrew: Yeah. I have some screen shots. They didn’t publicly put it on iTunes.  But we do have the Smithsonian American Art museum. They used us to capture the Renwick 360 gallery, that is available on iTunes and you can put that in your Google Cardboard or Android. And that’s a tour of an art building that was up until the 15th but is no longer up there. It gives you a kind of a really interactive view, so you get videos that play showing artists creating the exhibit, you get written information about what you’re looking at. It’s kind of a whole new way to experience museums, without going to DC!

Craig: Very interesting! Without all the hassle of the travel. Absolutely! Well, thank you Andrew! I really appreciate it. Good luck with InstaVR, and I appreciate it I think it’s going to be a very interesting company and I think it’s something that hopefully all of our watchers will keep an eye on.

Andrew: Enjoy the rest of SXSW Craig!

Craig: Thanks Andrew, bye bye.

For more information about VR visit the Samsung Gear VR Review page with information about the popular headset plus reviews of other VR headsets.

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