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Visual Vocal co-founders Sean House, CTO, and John SanGiovanni, CEO,
Visual Vocal co-founders Sean House, CTO, and John SanGiovanni, CEO

Virtual reality is still in its infancy, but today’s connected world demands the ability to share everything. A new Seattle-based startup called Visual Vocal wants to make it easy to share and collaborate on virtual reality experiences.

Many enterprises are already working with 3D visualizations, from architects to bioengineers, which can easily be transformed into virtual reality experiences. But with people collaborating across borders and time zones on big projects, sharing those VR experiences can be tough, and getting feedback on them nearly impossible.

Visual Vocal launched publicly last month and is developing technology to take 3D renderings, convert them into virtual reality and share them with others through a “cloud-based communication layer,” according to Visual Vocal co-founder and CEO John SanGiovanni.

Users share their opinions within the VR environment instead of after the fact. Image via Visual Vocal.
Users share their opinions within the VR environment. Image via Visual Vocal.

The Visual Vocal tool is built around getting input from others. Users can cycle through design elements in an architectural design, or the placement of features in an engineering mockup, getting a 3D view of the options before they’re actually produced. As users go through the options, Visual Vocal’s system tracks their favorites so the tester doesn’t have to remember what looked best after the fact.

Visual Vocal is working exclusively with Seattle-based architectural firm NBBJ for now, in part to work out the best implementation of their cloud-based platform. However, later this year the company will open a beta for healthcare, corporate and urban planning clients. In the future, SanGiovanni hopes to expand to industries like aerospace, product design and biotech.

“We see an enormous opportunity around communication and collaboration technologies in VR,” SanGiovanni said. “So how do you use this new medium to essentially invent new communication patterns, to drive collaboration and conversation?”

By using a phone, Visual Vocal has a portable tool for VR viewing. And because it doesn't completely block out the world outside, users are less likely to get the motion sickness related to standard VR setups. Image via Visual Vocal.
By using a phone, Visual Vocal has a portable tool for VR viewing. Image via Visual Vocal.

Since Visual Vocal’s tool works as well on a phone as it does on a true VR headset like the Oculus, that also means it’s portable. Designers can bring it along to client meetings, or it can even be sent to researchers in the field who don’t have access to powerful VR setups.

The phone form factor also helps reduce motion sickness issues that often pop up with VR. And since the idea is to share pre-finished products, these VR experiences aren’t going to be quite as polished as more consumer-focused media.

The startup is led by SanGiovanni and Sean House, co-founder and CTO. They raised $500,000 for their VR startup earlier this year, under the name 18Angles, which was the working title for Visual Vocal. SanGiovanni co-founded mobile content marketing company Zumobi in 2007 after working at Microsoft Research.

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