Your address will show here +12 34 56 78
Virtual Reality, VR Training

Members of the PIXO VR team visited Concordia University’s Portland, Oregon campus recently to participate in the Emerging Technologies Symposium for Emergency Solutions. Ben Mazza and Erica Schaffel from PIXO VR were invited to join professionals from academia, technology, government, and emergency preparedness to learn and discuss the benefits of integrating virtual reality simulations into their training programs. Representatives from FEMA, the Office of Homeland Security, police and fire departments, and emergency medical teams participated in the event and many took part in the VR training demo.

Intel Corporation’s Mike Premi and Grant Tietje from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory were the keynote speakers at the event, which combined presentations, panel discussions, and interactive demonstrations.

PIXO VR’s demonstration allowed emergency professionals to work in teams to contain a virtual fire caused by an overturned oil truck. The firefighters coordinated their efforts, reacting to the oil spill and ensuing blaze in real time. Since the platform allows emergency personnel to follow established protocols as they work to control crises, responders were able to react realistically to fire, heat, and smoke. The fire also reacted as it would when doused with foam or water, creating a lifelike situation.

Trainers and emergency managers attending the symposium quickly realized the value of virtual reality’s realistic, immersive experience as a low-risk teaching method for firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and other first responders. The dangerous nature of those professions makes it difficult to teach new skills in the field. Virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality simulate crisis conditions without placing emergency responders in jeopardy.

Reactions to the VR training demo were overwhelmingly positive. Emergency personnel were impressed with how real it felt and looked. They praised the attention to detail and visual fidelity. Many noted the importance of realism, especially in exercises trainees would have to perform seventeen or eighteen times to get exactly right.

Firefighters and fire chiefs from all over the country participated in PIXO’s three-minute immersive simulation. Tony Fletcher, Division Chief of Training of the Vancouver, WA fire department said, “While invaluable, traditional hands-on training exposes participants to injury, and is often too expensive to repeat. The value of virtual reality training like PIXO’s is that it exposes participants to realistic experiences without putting them in danger, and it’s extremely easy and cost effective to repeat.”

PIXO VR’s Erica Schaffel preps a first responder for the VR training demo. (Photo courtesy PIXO VR)


The challenge, danger, and cost in recreating realistic emergency situations in the field make virtual reality training even more valuable. First responders are constantly learning new skills and striving to maintain their current ones to certify or recertify in their positions. The ability to practice newly-learned procedures without danger and expense will maintain proficiency and build muscle memory. That means when a firefighter faces a real burning building or overturned oil truck, their response will be second nature.

Concordia University’s symposium brought together representatives from different emergency management agencies to discover new technologies that will ultimately make their jobs safer and easier.

It was a great opportunity to meet the people who perform these dangerous, life-saving jobs and show them a safer way to train.


Virtual Reality, VR Training




If you’ve ever seen Ron Howard’s 1995 film, Apollo 13, you’ll recognize the phrase “failure is not an option.” In the film, Ed Harris plays NASA flight director, Gene Kranz, and the quote refers to the accident in the 1970 Apollo 13 lunar mission and NASA’s efforts to get the men home safely. Taken in context, the statement makes sense. Of course, Kranz does not want to fail. What flight director wants to lose his men?

Taken in the context of training personnel for dangerous situations; however, the phrase should be, “failure IS an option.” Mistakes, misjudgment, and failure are teaching tools. Getting things wrong while practicing helps people get things right when real problems arise. It’s the reason troops drill over and over before heading out to the field. It’s also the reason schools conduct fire drills. When kids know the procedure ahead of time, they don’t panic when faced with an actual emergency.

Training is positive and making errors while training is natural, but people are still injured and killed in training accidents. What if there were a way to train for dangerous situations without risking injury or death? Many consider virtual reality solely as a platform for gaming. It is used in games, but virtual reality training is also a risk-free way for firefighters to practice their approach to a wildfire. It’s also a safe method for nuclear engineers to perform emergency or even everyday procedures without entering the reactor.

PIXO VR has devised safe, multi-platform virtual reality software that enables people in dangerous jobs to train safely. Our AAA gaming quality visuals place each user IN the appropriate environment. This immersion training allows the trainee to be there—in the fire, the gas leak, or the battle—without leaving headquarters. Trainees in these lifelike scenarios act and react in real time, learning what works and what doesn’t. Squads drill together, often performing different tasks, to practice working as a team. Preparation like this builds muscle memory and confidence without danger.  



What does PIXO’s virtual reality software mean for first responders? It means they get the training they need to deal with life-threatening conditions and they get to go home at the end of the day.


Virtual Reality, VR Training
Virtual Reality: The Future of Safety Training

Imagine being told back in the 1980s that in the future, you could put on a headset and instantly be transported into another environment, area of the globe, or any situation you could picture yourself being in.


As wacky as that would have sounded over 30 years ago, the truth about VR is that it has actually been around for much longer than that, and has been evolving at an incredibly fast rate. The first occurrences of virtual reality included 360-degree movies with soundscapes in the 1960s, moving simulators of planes and rides, and, eventually, the birth of VR video games in the 1990s. After a nearly 50-something year journey to create an alternative universe accessible by a screen, here we are with fully-functioning and awe-inspiring imagery, courtesy of Oculus, Samsung, Google, and HTC.


These responsive technologies introduce a question that every great invention should: how can we use them to make the world a better place?


Safety training technologies such as those developed by the PIXO Group in Royal Oak, MI are the key to creating a better tomorrow. With safety training software for industries including construction, utilities, manufacturing, and more, companies can now train their employees with VR headsets and mimic real-life work situations with immediate feedback. Learning a new role has never been safer or more resourceful.

More and more employers are utilizing VR as an option to train thousands of their employees, and it’s no shock as to why; the benefits are innumerable:

  • Increase Efficiency:

    Enrolling multiple new hires in a training course allows for a quicker turnaround of educated employees ready to take on the job at hand. PIXO’s proprietary interactive VR technology allows for employees to work together on a task in the same virtual environment even if they are physically located across the world, using any VR headset or non-VR technology such as mobile phones or laptops.

  • Refine Motor Skills:

    Research shows that action learning is a key player in understanding a skill. Practicing a skill instead of reading about it introduces an 80% increase in retention. Virtual practice makes perfect too.

  • Gather Employee Data:

    While employees learn, employers can gain insight to trends in their skills that may be common throughout a class. From there, you can target a solution to avoid a bottleneck effect in the future.

  • Unexpected Ease of Use:

    Modern day VR helmets and learning software are as easy to use as your mobile phone, no matter a new hire’s age or technological proficiency.

  • Save Money:

    Why spend thousands of dollars to fly new employees across the country (let alone the world) for orientation seminars when they can learn skills remotely through a VR headset?


Where will virtual reality technologies take us next? Only time will tell. For now, we know that it’s taking us farther and farther away from hands-off learning, expensive on-boarding, and a myriad of other blockers.
To learn more about taking your company’s safety training to another dimension, contact the PIXO Group today.

Virtual Reality, VR Training

Essential Insights on AR in a Transforming World


Artificial Reality could be the one device to disrupt the world of technology. It is opening new opportunities that will transform business, lifestyle and reality itself. Our AR research can help you understand this power, and explore the impact to almost every industry.


A Robust AR Market is Already Taking Shape


Investments in the AR market are growing. Consumers are showing interest in AR, and industry leaders recognize their enthusiasm as a potential opportunity for growth.

VC Investments in AR

Target Audiences


Growth is Expected to Be Outsized


As millions of projected users embrace AR, products and services will need to adapt. But as with most transformative technologies, adoption will be a curved line, not straight.

Size of Global VR Market by 2022
VR Users count

The Impact on Industries is Far Reaching


Across industries, AR will change how products are created and delivered, which could translate into increased productivity and operational efficiencies.











Understand the Differences of Artificial Reality


Virtual reality (VR)

Users enter fully immersive digital reality

Blocks out the user’s natural surroundings

Augmented reality (AR)

Text, sound, graphics or video is superimposed atop the physical world

Users see synthetic light bouncing off real objects

Mixed reality (MR)

Real and virtual objects are integrated into real space

Virtual objects are meant to look believable


Read Our Research on AR

For More Insights, Read the report

For a deeper look into this emerging trend, read Future Reality: VR, AR & MR Primer, part of our Transforming World series.

This article was originally posted by Bank of America. You can find the original article here:


Virtual Reality, VR Training

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have the potential to become the next big computing platform, according to Goldman Sachs Research.

In the first report from a new Profiles in Innovation series, Goldman Sachs Research examines how VR—which immerses the user in a virtual world—and AR—which overlays digital information onto the physical world—can reshape existing ways of doing things, from buying a new home to interacting with a doctor or watching a concert.

Download an excerpt [30 pages] of the report below. You can also watch a video preview of the research featuring lead author Heather Bellini.

This article was originally posted by Goldman Sachs. You can find the original article here:


Virtual Reality

Mobile AR to drive $108 billion VR/AR market by 2021

“VR will be big, AR will be bigger and take longer.” What sounded revolutionary when we first said it 2 years ago has become accepted wisdom. But now the market has actually launched, we’ve got 12 months of real world performance and major tech players’ strategies emerging. And that’s changed our views on VR/AR growth. A lot. Our new Augmented/Virtual Reality Report 2017 base case is that Mobile AR could become the primary driver of a $108 billion VR/AR market by 2021 (underperform $94 billion, outperform $122 billion) with AR taking the lion’s share of $83 billion and VR $25 billion.

What went right (and wrong) last year

Let’s start with less than happy times. Facebook (Oculus Rift) and HTC (Vive) had growing pains at launch, whether slower than expected shipping or order cancellations. Oculus launched without Touch controllers, which eventually cost $199 instead of being bundled (i.e. non-PC full system costs hit $798 – same as HTC Vive). Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 saw part of its mobile VR ambitions literally go up in smoke, as the new Gear VR was designed to be compatible with that flagship device. Magic Leap also received a boatload of speculation about the tech it used to raise $1.4 billion.

Thankfully Nintendo/The Pokémon Company/Niantic had a breakout success that even they didn’t anticipate. Pokémon Go delivered $600 million mobile AR revenue in its first three months alone, making more money through the year than the entire VR games software market in 2016. While this came from a very specific set of circumstances, there have been direct knock-on effects for major tech companies’ mobile AR strategies.

As well as Sony’s solid launch of Playstation VR, the quiet achiever last year was Google. It launched its Daydream View mobile VR headset/controller and the first Tango mobile AR phone. What helped even more was Snap’s genius launch of Spectacles, which made wearing goofy future glasses cool again (no more Glassholes) even though it isn’t really AR.

All out, all change

The absolute performance of VR/AR in 2016 was not as important as how it changed the trajectory of the market. Where at the start of the year we thought 2016 could deliver $4.4 billion VR/AR revenue ($3.8 billion VR, $0.6 billion AR), the launch year’s issues resulted in only $2.7 billion VR revenue. This was counterbalanced by Pokémon Go’s outperformance helping AR to an unexpected $1.2 billion revenue, for a total $3.9 billion VR/AR market in 2016 (we were 11% optimistic).

But the last 12 months have fundamentally reshaped how the market could grow going forward.

Virtually the same, but different

Mobile VR will still produce the dominant “Explorer” (free up to $100) installed base for VR, with Google Daydream View moving things on from Cardboard days. However Samsung’s troubles last year meant that mobile VR didn’t get off to the flying start it could have. A smaller installed base than expected in 2016 reduces the network effects that platforms need to scale, which could slow things by 6 to 12 months. Mobile VR is still going to be big, but it might take a little longer to get there.

Sony’s Playstation VR launch and Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 10 VR headsets are the boosters VR needs, with consumer price points and performance that work for an “Enthusiast” (less than $400) market. Microsoft’s offering with inside-out tracking (inherited from HoloLens) is a game changer at a $299 price point. Plus it doesn’t need a brand new PC to run it, which makes it a genuine consumer product.

Facebook and HTC’s higher priced offerings and platform requirements are at risk of being squeezed into a low volume “Specialist” (less than $1,500 total system cost including platform) market by Sony and Microsoft. A deep niche populated by whales, but one that could become a narrow trench unless something can be done about price.

Augmented by name

In response to Pokémon Go, Apple’s Tim Cook said that Apple is “high on AR in the long run…continue to invest a lot in this…AR can be huge.” Google’s Sundar Pichai, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella also hailed Pokémon Go as a major early win for AR.

But there are 5 big challenges AR needs to conquer for mass consumers: (1) hero device (i.e. an Apple quality device, whether made by Apple or someone else), (2) all-day battery life (3) mobile connectivity, (4) app ecosystem, and (5) telco cross-subsidization. While most attention is paid to what that hero device will look like and when it will get here, two of the other challenges are particularly hard to solve.

Until a major breakthrough in battery technology, a lightweight pair of AR smartglasses doing heavy duty AR is hard to power all day without a battery pack or hot swappable batteries (which are fine for enterprise customers, but a harder sell for consumers). This is a non-trivial problem. Plus it’s a major risk for the developer ecosystem to invest heavily in building apps for new platforms until the installed base reaches scale. It’s the perennial chicken and egg problem that all new tech platforms face.

So where does this leave titans like Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft, and all the high-growth AR smartglasses startups?

Augmented by nature

Mobile AR could conquer the five major challenges for AR to go mass consumer in the short term. Mark Zuckerberg thinks so, “the phone is probably going to be the mainstream consumer platform [where] a lot of these AR features become mainstream, rather than a glasses form factor that people will wear on their face.”

Smartphones solve four of the major challenges for mass consumer AR already: all day battery life, mobile connectivity, app ecosystem and telco cross-subsidization. Plus you’re probably reading this on a hero device (iPhone, Samsung or other great Android phone) – it just doesn’t have the sensors and software to be a full AR phone. Yet.

Pokémon Go is a thin lens into the potential of mobile AR (even if industry insiders don’t like to call it that). The first step to true mobile AR was taken when Google launched its Tango AR phone with Lenovo. While that doesn’t look like the hero device mobile AR needs to take off yet, it points in the direction of the tech that Apple, Samsung and others could use to revitalize innovation and growth in the slowing smartphone market.

And this is where mobile AR’s secret weapon comes into play – replacement cycles.

It’s free after you’ve paid for it

Most developed mobile markets have hit saturation, with sales coming from consumers replacing their phones regularly despite not really needing to. It’s just something that we do. But that replacement cycle has been edging up from under two years towards three years, which is a major headache for Apple, Samsung and others. After nearly a decade of outperformance, Apple saw declining iPhone sales and revenue last year. Samsung’s Kim Gae-youn said it could “secure a baseline profit even if the market stagnates, so long as we don’t make a bad mistake.” And that was before the Galaxy Note 7. Smartphones are a mature market, crying out for innovation to rekindle growth.

So it’s no accident that Apple bought Metaio, with speculation in the industry of the core team working in secret deep inside the company. Similarly Samsung’s Sung-Hoon Hong has talked about its “light field engine” that can produce “really, really realistic” holograms that look “really touchable”, and how augmented reality has “much better business development” potential than virtual reality. Qualcomm’s Seshu Madhavapeddy said that its flagship processors could enable phone based AR with significant battery savings and smaller form factors.

Neither Apple nor Samsung has said anything specific about their mobile AR plans, but our base assumption is that they could launch AR enabled phones in 2018 (outperform 2017, underperform 2019). Other major phone makers might join them. While there is a chance this could happen in 2017, if an iPhone 7S and Galaxy S8 turn out to be standard phones this year, then next year the iPhone 8 and Galaxy S9 could become the dawn of mass mobile AR. The beauty of this approach is that it doesn’t require consumers to do anything they don’t already do – just replace their iPhones and Samsung phones as usual. If they get everything right, AR phones could become the new hotness to drive mobile growth again. Who wants an old smartphone when you can have a magic window on the world?

I want my smartglasses

But where (or rather when) are the “true” augmented reality smartglasses we’ve been promised?

While you’ll be able to buy your smartglasses from ODG, Meta and others this year, AR smartglasses’ 5 big challenges might not all be resolved before 2019. Smartglasses leaders could remain focused on “Enterprise” (>$1,500 total system costs) and consumer Specialist (<$1,500) markets, until they are able to completely replace your smartphone without a battery pack and also offer a full app ecosystem. For the next few years standalone smartglasses could build a deep high-end market as discretionary purchases independent of the phone you’re going to buy anyway. Smartglasses’ inflection point could come when they begin to cannibalize smartphone sales outright.

Apple, Samsung and others could become smartglasses players later (unless Robert Scoble was well informed) as a natural progression from mobile AR, potentially launching them as phone peripherals like smartwatches (only this time cool and disruptive). Google, Facebook, Snap and China’s BAT (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent) could also have big roles to play.

So what next?

While the market could play out in many ways, let’s look at what major players’ strategies might be. Things could turn out differently, so we’ll revisit as we learn what is (and isn’t) happening.

Facebook is the largest single investor in VR/AR after buying Oculus for $2 billion and investing at least $500 million more. The company began telegraphing what might come next by splitting Oculus into PC and mobile divisions and showcasing two different VR social platforms. Oculus’ PC VR division looks set to remain in VR Specialist and Enthusiast markets because of price, so increasingly doesn’t look like a Facebook-sized (i.e. 100s of millions to billions of users) asset. Facebook could keep the Oculus PC VR division as a high-end test bed to support mobile VR/AR efforts, or spin it out (like Niantic from Google), merge it (potentially consolidating the high-end PC VR market) or sell it outright.

Oculus’ mobile VR division is in a prime position to continue running Samsung’s Gear VR appstore and drive Gear VR innovation. Mark Zuckerberg has already said he believes in mobile AR, but as a non-phone maker Facebook could stick to its roots as a software player in that market. Given its track record as a Snap fast follower, we might end up wearing Facebook “Spectacles” too.

Apple is the best placed of all major tech companies to potentially drive mobile AR, with its end-to-end ecosystem of hardware, software, app store, developers and retail. The company has been characteristically enigmatic despite Tim Cook’s stated enthusiasm for AR, but all it needs are a few additional sensors, integrated Metaio software and some serious intent. As above, our base case sees this happening next year (outperform 2017, underperform 2019). For Apple customers, there would be no marginal cost to buying an AR enabled iPhone – they’re going to buy one anyway.

Nurturing a growing ecosystem of apps and developers is second nature for Apple, so in the long run smartglasses as an iPhone peripheral might be a logical next step from Apple’s mobile AR efforts. It doesn’t look like Apple will disrupt itself with standalone smartglasses to replace your iPhone just yet (again unless Robert Scoble was well informed. If so, our outperform case comes into play).

Samsung is likely to remain a major player in mobile VR, despite what happened with the Galaxy Note 7. But it’s not a full ecosystem play for mobile VR because Facebook runs its Gear VR appstore. Samsung could stick to its hardware roots with mobile AR using similar timing to Apple, with others driving appstores and software in that market too. Also like Apple, AR smartglasses as a Samsung phone peripheral could become a logical progression from mobile AR long-term.

Microsoft’s Satya Nadella focused HoloLens AR/mixed reality on the Enterprise market because of its high spec and price, and going mass consumer doesn’t look likely in coming years. So while you could play Minecraft on HoloLens, you’ll only do so as part of “research” at work. Microsoft’s Windows 10 VR is a game changer for the PC/console VR market with its inside-out tracking, low price and basic platform requirements, and the company is staying true to its Windows playbook with partners HP, Dell, Lenovo, Acer and Asus making the hardware. There’s also a good chance Xbox One Scorpio will see a Windows VR headset bundle at launch to drive console VR growth.

Yet despite all its assets, Microsoft doesn’t have a focused mobile VR/AR play apart from Minecraft (a big game, but not a platform). Until a clear strategy emerges, Satya Nadella’s Microsoft risks missing the mobile VR/AR platform shift in the same way Steve Ballmer’s Microsoft did with phones.

After its misadventures with Glass, Google is doing the Googliest thing possible for VR/AR – everything. For VR Explorers, Cardboard is a low risk entry point for VR and Daydream View could become the mobile VR leader (whether made by Google or others). Google’s approach with Tango (both inhouse and with hardware partners) is at the forefront of the impending mobile AR revolution. However, Apple vs Google in mobile VR/AR could end up looking like iOS vs Android: Apple with a hugely profitable end-to-end mobile AR ecosystem, Google enabling a larger open mobile VR/AR ecosystem to drive its core search advertising and Google Play revenues. A good result either way. Speculation about a merged Tango/Daydream standard using Tango sensors for VR might require a new form factor to the current closed back Daydream View, and it’s still too early to make a call on a potential Google Glass 2.

The console/PC VR market should also see Sony continue to drive core games revenues with PSVR, while HTC’s Cher Wang could consider how to make the HTC Vive more accessible to a mass consumer audience in terms of price. HTC might also adopt a Facebook-style dual PC/mobile VR strategy and enter mobile AR, but would need to grow its core phone market share to scale. Intel’s Project Alloy all-in-one VR headsets look set to shake up the VR Specialist market when they launch later in the year.

The original source of this content was provided by Digi-Capital. The article can be viewed here:

Virtual Reality
There’s a lot of talk lately about Detroit being a comeback city. Travel + Leisure and Bon Appétit are recognizing Motor City as a major travel and food destination. But what about technology? We’re right in the center of the Midwest, an area set to outpace the famed Silicon Valley for startups. And the exponential growth is happening in part because of another Midwest staple: hospitality.

Partnerships are forged between nonprofits, government agencies, startups and established businesses, because we believe in Michigan and what we can do. Metro Detroit’s economy today is made up of more than just automotive. From embracing autonomous vehicles to groundbreaking augmented reality museum tours, we’re proud to be part of this technological renaissance.

PIXO Group’s Marketing Strategist Kristin recently spoke on augmented reality (AR) as a tool for storytelling at the Michigan Recreation & Park Association’s annual conference. Sound like a strange fit? When you think about it, not really: parks benefited from an influx of visitors thanks to Pokémon Go. By combining existing geolocations, like historical landmarks, with the beloved cartoon, Pokémon Go proved AR is here to stay (even though it’s not technically AR – shh!). There’s a handful of AR developers in the state, and PIXO Group is excited to be among them.  

This week, Michigan business association Automation Alley held their annual Technology Industry Outlook at the perfect location: the DIA. The Detroit Institute of Arts became the first museum in the world to have an AR tour, so filling their space with drones, robots and virtual reality was a natural fit. Companies exhibited their technology, and after networking and demos, participants listened to Automation Alley’s talk on Industry 4.0 and how it’s changing Michigan business. See key takeaways and read the full report here.

Michigan State University is, perhaps not surprisingly, a strong supporter of the tech scene. PIXO Group was at their gaming conference Meaningful Play last year, where our Creative Director Ben spoke on a panel about how the local industry is evolving. And at the end of this month, we’ll be sharing a table with our good friends at the Mobile Technology Association of Michigan for CS First. This is an opportunity to engage primary school students with technology, so we’re packing up all the Google Cardboards we can find!

So what else is on the radar? May will be another big month for the Michigan tech scene, continuing the momentum from last year’s record-breaking Startup Week and innovative Self Conference. We’re hoping to speak on virtual reality and education with our friends at Keep up to date with our social accounts to find out who we’re developing tech with next (or just follow us to watch the robots).


Virtual Reality
Last week, Business Leaders for Michigan held their fifth annual CEO Summit. This day-long event drew an enormous crowd from all areas of the enterprise: healthcare and banking to automotive and education. This year, BLM focused on some timely topics. The speakers discussed disruption, innovation, emergent technology and competing in a global economy. Here’s our Top 5 Takeaways from the day.   Sam Sesti, CEO of ONU One, spoke to one of the key concepts: differentiators. With an ever crowded marketplace, what are the tools companies need to succeed? How do you communicate loudly over the roar of competition? One way is with 3D visualization: engage your customers emotionally and give them an interactive, custom experience with your products. Sam said, though, it might not just be one way – it is the way. Fairly soon, all marketing, sales, service and training will be done using 3D visualization.   Even pizza companies are technology companies. CEO Patrick Doyle spoke about how most of their commercials aren’t about the product, but about how tech delivers it. Have you ordered a pizza with an app yet? What about via emoji? It’s time. Disrupt your Friday night dinner. ?   This fascinating panel, moderated by @ChristyTV, covered so many crucial issues facing business today. Another highlight was PNC VP Ric DeVore talking about bridging the gap between the older generation that will do all of their banking in the branches, and the Millennials that will never set foot in one. We are in transitory times indeed!   Steelcase CEO – and gamer! – Jim Keane spoke about how office furniture design is influenced by technology. His optimistic vision of the future of workspaces is one where people are no longer tethered to any particular location. Steelcase also uses virtual reality so clients can understand relationships between furniture and architecture. And, with the Internet of Things, offices will be as smart as the people who work in them.   These are words to live by. Make a desktop wallpaper, write it on a white board, tattoo it on your arm. If everything around you is changing rapidly, staying the same automatically makes you obsolete. This isn’t about failure, though – many tech leaders talk about the importance of failing fast. Taking risks was central not only to this talk, but embedded into the overall day. What makes this field so exciting and challenging is the opportunity to always push forward and innovate. The real risk is taking no risk at all.             Cover photo courtesy of

The Dev Team On: HTC Vive & Unity

This installment of The Dev Team at PIXO features commentary from Tech Director Vinh and Engineer Hasnaa  

The HTC Vive is the newest, and arguably greatest piece of virtual reality hardware on the market right now. While it has yet to penetrate the mainstream marketplace, those lucky enough to use one agree it offers immersion unlike anything else – some of the PIXO Group staff even call it a “religious experience.”  

Most likely, if you’ve already tried the Vive, you either: work for a tech company that develops for it (raises hand); work for a company that’s utilized it in sales & marketing efforts; or you attended an event where you were able to experience the Vive. Consumer adoption has yet to be widespread, but the exceptional experiences should propel it towards becoming commonplace.  

So what does it take to build experiences for this game changer? First, an awesome team. Here at PIXO Group we’re lucky to have awesome modelers, character artists, animators, sound designers, UI/UX experts and engineers. But if you want to start exploring on your own, the Vive’s plugins make development relatively simple for those ready to dive in.  

There are two main 3D game engines for the HTC Vive: Unity or Unreal. At PIXO Group, our history in Unity goes back to our mobile app games, so it’s the plugin of choice for our development team.  

Once you have Unity and the corresponding Steam VR plugin, the setup is straightforward and it contains example scenes. “To get started, you can drag prefabs that come with the plugin,” explains Hasnaa. Some simple first experiences can be things like hitting a ball with a bat. Once the physics of that are set, add in art to the scene to create an entire baseball game. If you’re already familiar with Unity, you’re basically ready to go.  

“If you’re a Unity developer and want to make virtual reality experiences, Unity is so well supported by the VIVE, developing VR is more simple than making an omelette,” said Vinh. (Editor’s Note: That depends a lot on who’s making the omelette. I am much better at omelettes.)  

Vinh and Hasnaa enjoy building worlds in the Vive because of the sense of immersion. Thanks to the high frame rate, there’s less dizziness, which is important not only for the end user, but for the developers during tons of testing. The depth of field feels really natural, the visualization of the controllers is excellent, and the sense of the room scale adds to the experience. Additionally, our team loves the opportunities the Vive afford them to play with physics.  

“When you place something down it feels like it, thanks to the haptic feedback on the controllers,” said Hasnaa. “It’s all very real, physics-based interactions.”  

So, for example, the controller can be replaced by a virtual bat with a collider on it, to hit balls or other projectile objects. The feedback extends beyond just the controllers, though. The Dev Team also wrote code that projects a collider from the headset to the ground. This simulates objects colliding with the players themselves.   The Dev Team wrote code that maps a point in space on the Vive headset and connects it to a point on the ground, so you’re experiencing a projection of yourself standing vertically. So when a ball comes at you and you swing at it with the controller, the accuracy of the experience creates that total immersion that is unlike anything else on the market right now.  

Beyond simple ball and bat projects, what can developers build in the Vive? Vinh encourages the exploration of fantasy realms: “If you ever wanted to be a space ranger fighting aliens, you can do that in the Vive.”  

Experiences don’t always have to be as grandiose as those, though. Vinh explains that you can put a real movie on a texture of an object in the world, so you’re watching a film in virtual space. While this has great implications for experiential marketing – like running promotional videos for a product within an experience – Vinh has a simpler explanation.  

“In virtual space, you can make the television as big as you want. Big screen TVs are expensive – just build one in VR!”