As VR and AR companies wait for the technology to catch on with mainstream consumers, companies aren’t waiting to put it to use in the workplace.
Pixvana, the Seattle-based virtual reality startup, has built another creative solution for an enterprise customer, and it’s an idea that’s actually being put to use at sea.
Pixvana teamed with luxury cruise line operator Seabourn to create a VR training solution for wait staff who must memorize a massive 105-table, 12-serving-station dining room in a small window of time.
“TableVision” was designed and created by Pixvana’s production team and utilizes SPIN Studio, its proprietary VR-native platform.
“By creating tailored VR training experiences that leverage the VR superpowers — presence, empathy and immersion — we can maximize workforce engagement and retention,” Rachel Lanham, chief operating officer of Pixvana said in a news release. “We believe there’s huge potential for immersive learning in the corporate world and Seabourn’s dedication to unparalleled service puts them at the forefront of innovative training in the cruise industry.”
Pixvana launched in 2015, originally selling end-to-end cloud-based VR storytelling software. It now also develops VR experiences. Last year it partnered with Limbix to build an immersive therapy for adolescent depression and anxiety.
Tamara Turner, vice president of corporate strategy, said the mission remains unchanged at the 3-year-old Pixvana: To help customers realize the potential of “XR storytelling.”
“We continue to build the world’s leading XR platform to help organizations scale their immersive experiences by simplifying processes from creation to distribution,” Turner told GeekWire. “Almost all of our enterprise customers have — and continue ¸— to rely on our creative service offering, which spans ideation to post-production, to bring their best-in-class immersive training experiences to market.”
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Use cases for VR training span the workplace spectrum, from construction companies to sports teams. The giant retailer Walmart, for instance, upgraded its employee training and development across the U.S. by introducing VR at its Walmart Academies, and it’s bringing Oculus headsets to stores nationwide to train more than 1 million associates.
Customers such as Seattle-based Seabourn, which operates a fleet of five ultra-luxury ships, get what Turner calls “cutting-edge training solutions” that save time and money and “greatly improve employee retention and satisfaction.”
“Because VR/AR can deliver significant benefits and ROI to the enterprise, we expect to see the adoption of this medium growth across enterprise use cases,” Turner added.
Turner said it’s anyone’s guess when the VR/AR market will reach mainstream consumers, calling it likely to happen in the next five years. An IDC report in December said that the combined VR/AR headset market grew 9.4 percent year over year in the third quarter of 2018.
“The VR market is finally starting to come into its own,” said Jitesh Ubrani, a senior research analyst for IDC. “On the consumer front, the combination of lower prices and increased content is beginning to resonate with users. Meanwhile, commercial adoption is also on the rise for a range of use cases, including training, design, and showcasing.”
Pixvana currently employs 23 people and has raised $20 million to date.
It’s one of many up-and-coming virtual reality startups in the Seattle area. Others include Pluto VR, HaptX, VRStudios, VREAL, Endeavor One, Nullspace VR, Against Gravity, Visual Vocal, and several others. Those are in addition to larger companies like Microsoft, Valve, HTC, and Oculus that also are developing virtual and augmented reality technologies in the region.