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With AR/VR adoption on the rapid rise, as observed through SparkAmplify's trending topic analysis, it is fair to say that more innovative uses of the technology have risen as well. Companies are finding ways and means of using this technology to improve existing processes - to make them better. Or even just creating another platform for user experiences. Below are more companies that are continuing to bring the benefits of AR/VR technology to the general populace.
Malaysian startup Virtual X started in 2018, and have since pivoted towards facilitating AR/VR use in heavy industries - which co-founder Jerome Kay notes is rather dominated by larger corporations. With the co-founders having engineering background under their belt, combined with a pursuit of work in the tech industry, it only seemed like a natural sector to venture into, with a specific focus on oil, gas, and aviation companies.
Their product Manual VR came first, meant to provide a safer, more risk-free way of training workers in the heavy industries, while maintaining the essence of in-person training. Manual VR is a cloud-based platform which Kay likens to streaming site YouTube. A library for VR training, workers train through VR training apps on the platform, even offline. Unlike other programs, Manual VR has data tracking capabilities, so management can track workers’ progress and competencies.
With many companies coming onboard, Virtual X realised that AR and VR were always asked about together, and decided to create Manual AR in 2021. Compared to its VR counterpart, the AR half focuses on the operations and maintenance side of things, with a web content management system. It runs on a “plug & play system”, with no need for coding - making things simpler for clients to manage. Real-time data will be available as well, which is useful for knowing things like which machine needs fixing in the work compound. There’s even a video call feature, making it easier to conduct calls through AR.
After having already worked with several high-profile clients like TNB, Petronas, and Sarawak Energy, Kay hopes to expand Virtual X’s reach to more countries globally.
Singapore-based company Serl.io aims to “help enterprise, government and institutions unlock opportunities and efficiencies by boldly transforming engagement and collaboration with scalable Mixed Reality (MR) solutions”, as summed up by Serl.io’s CEO Terence Loo. This is done alongside their MRx platform.
Not long ago in 2019, Serl.io partnered with Microsoft to work with Crescent Girls’ School in Singapore to develop MR solutions to contribute to their newly-launched immersive technology learning lab. The project made use of Microsoft’s HoloLens devices, providing a vastly different learning medium for students who are used to the traditional printed textbook.
Being trialled for biology lessons, using MR meant students were able to be shown visualizations of complex concepts, or even simulations not accessible to schools to carry out. With the intention of improving student engagement and providing new learning methods, the project was met with great success, and Singapore’s Ministry of Education even produced a video featuring it.
The project was also useful in evaluating the feasibility and effectiveness of deployment of MR on a larger scale. The program’s flexibility and versatility means it can be applied to both school curriculums and even enterprises. Several schools are already in the process of implementing its use, as part of lesson plans.
Apart from the success with Crescent Girls’, Serl.io had also worked with ITE West, to have MR and AI moulded into one program for the purpose of conducting work-at-height safety training for students, gauging the proper climbing action needed.
Serl.io could therefore be a part of the Singapore education system’s path to being more technologically driven. It seems that organizations are quickly recognizing the benefits MR use can bring to various processes, such as learning in this case.
In a society where the modern is quickly overtaking the traditional, it is key to retain the latter through avenues for every generation to access. Take for example Hiverlab’s work with the Stamford Arts Centre in Singapore for their reopening in 2019.
Stamford Arts Centre has a specific focus on the Traditional Arts, aiming to prevent these from being lost. With their vision to achieve this with digital technology, their partnership with Hiverlab to provide ways for traditional arts exposure through AR/VR makes complete sense.
Three AR/VR experiences were devised by Hiverlab. The first being an AR walking trail, in which users donning headsets explored a digital space within the Centre’s grounds, learning facts about the centre and resident artists, and aspects of several traditional performances like learning some classical Indian dance and playing traditional musical instruments. Bringing users experiences that they likely are unable to enjoy in real life, it can also boost interest in these traditional art forms.
The second experience was a VR backstage tour of a Chinese Opera, allowing users to immerse themselves into what goes on behind-the-scenes of this once-popular performance art. Indeed a rare opportunity for members of the public to witness these scenes, since they are usually hidden away from audiences’ view. Lastly, there was a more performance-focused experience, with a dancer dancing in a virtual reality environment accompanied by a live performance by a Chinese Orchestra group.
It goes without saying that through Hiverlab’s solution, heritage can be well preserved through AR/VR technology - unlike remaining as a Google search result or a page in a history textbook, this allows everyone to have a more interactive experience with the art forms, simultaneously keeping them alive. As echoed by former Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu at the reopening, "In today's digital age, we should leverage advances in technology to reach new audiences and transform the audience experience."
Art collectors, or even casual art enthusiasts, would normally purchase artworks for their own collections through art fairs or auctions. However, these might typically require buyers to be present physically. This poses a challenge: if they did want to display their works on walls, how would they know if they really like it for such a purpose?
Massive Infinity changed the outlook on this with their work for Baxter’s International’s 2017 AR art exhibition “BAM!”. Bringing the art market sphere to a digital platform, it transforms the process of buying and selling art through a mobile app. Artists can showcase their art more easily, through having several images (close-ups or otherwise) and an in-depth description of their art all in one place for easy access.
From the consumer perspective, the AR functionality of the app allows viewing the different artworks on walls, to check if its placement is up to satisfactory levels before purchasing. It makes the decision-making process that much simpler and convenient. Lastly, payment is done in-app, meaning that there will be no transaction handling with either party involved.
According to the Visual Arts Centre’s writeup on the exhibition, it attracted over 270 artists, attesting to the app’s appeal. The app was definitely not going through a shortage of artworks for sale - in fact, the number of artworks being able to feature on the app may be way more than having to accommodate the large number in a physical exhibition space. It’s also more sustainable for artists, since they don’t need to worry about the financials behind exhibiting works.
While there are no recent updates on the app, BAM! could be an amazing initiative for smaller and emerging artists as well, since they are given a platform that makes the art-selling process less daunting, and provides them greater public exposure and recognition.