If you see virtual reality as a thing of the future, you’re living in the past. The innovative technology developed by IrisVR is here now and is having a massive impact in the architecture and construction industry.
Shane Scranton, the CEO and Co-founder of IrisVR took the time to chat with TechDay about the future of this tech. He explains although the company is currently targeting a rather niche demographic, it won’t be long until VR permeates nearly every industry.
The thriving mainstream narrative of VR is that it is still somewhat a “futuristic” technology. Do you try to play into this discourse or actively deter from it?
We have an interesting lens because we’re fully enterprise. We’re building software that ties directly into architecture firms, construction firms and they’re using us pretty immediately. So it's actually interesting because our users have told us directly that they don’t see any of this as beta or as in development. Rather, they see this as an immediate tool.
However, where we do play into the futuristic technology is our customers using it to have an edge. But we definitely don’t use the actual word “futuristic”. We use the term cutting edge, but people are using the product now and it’s available now. If it’s saving people cost in the real world, they don’t see VR as futuristic at all.
Why do you believe consumers aren’t utilizing VR as much as they likely should? Is it fear of the technology or something else?
I think consumers are actually very excited. The issue however, is in regards to content. It takes quite a long time for good content to come out for VR in terms of games and movies and films. Pretty much all of the VR content coming out right now for consumers are early demos, early proofs of concepts and I believe it takes a game studios a couple of years to build a beautiful new game. So it’s gonna take a lot for these films studios to build the full blown experiences that make this usable everyday for consumers. But I don’t believe this is driven by fear, I think it’s literally just a content challenge of generating enough available content for people to use daily and feel like they’re getting the most out of it.
What learning curves came from coming from an architecture background to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
I’ve been lucky to have experienced a combination of these two paths both from school and my professional career, walking the line between design and technology. When I was in architecture, I was sort of the technology guy inhouse; I did all the 3D modeling, I did all the visualization, animations and all the web work. So I had sort of the design side through architectural design, but then I also had quite a lot of experience on the tech implementation of that.
Iris is really the perfect balance between these two paths. And there’s also this sort of joke about how architects are great employees because they’re used to working very long hours, have good attention to detail, are very critical thinkers and also a little crazy in terms of work ethic. Usually shifting from the architectural realm into the tech world is such a reward for them.
What efforts does IrisVr make to immerse itself within the building and design community and how does this effectively help bolster the brand?
Like most enterprise industries, Iris is very much in it’s own vertical and very siloed. You can almost call it exclusive, it’s this club that once you’re in, you're in. Yet this allows us to easily relate to others in it. For example when we’re at trade shows and talking to our users we can immediately start talking about the pain points that they have because they’re also pain points we’ve had. We’ve also hired people within the industry and have personal relationships with those in the industry.
I think the other side of it is we were also the first, or at least one of the very first in the space. As a result, we did slowly become synonymous with VR in architecture and construction.
There are also some community building things we do, we have a meetup group, we try to do as many talks as we can, we do webinars and we do try to fit into the local New York community as well.
So you’re establishing yourselves as thought leaders in the space then?
Oh, absolutely. The goal is to be the authority around VR in general for this industry not just for our specific software offering.
How focused is your demographic and to what extent do you aim to reach a less niche user?
We have about 23,000 signups in our database and about 75 percent of them are from the industry. What’s interesting, however, is that the other 25 percent is just an incredibly wide spread mix of those in different industries. It includes people from retail design or people from film and stage and set design, people that do product work or people that do automotive or medical applications or advertising. There’s this whole spread of people that exist outside of architecture and construction and we actually see the market getting wider over time. That’s because although we're building these tools for this industry, they also tie in specifically with 3D modeling that is becoming more widely used .
We've also seen as a startup, focus is everything. Being able to focus very specifically on this one industry, do that well, and then over time as 3D is adopted more widely we can start expanding into other verticals if we want to.
What direction do you see IrisVR moving towards in the near future?
Right now VR is primarily very solitary, it’s just you in the space by yourself, and in the short term in 2017, we want to put in a lot more work and research into how we make it more collaborative. This can be done potentially by maybe having multiple people in the space, facilitating conference room meetings via VR, or remote meetings amongst people in different spaces or different countries. Basically collaboration in all of its flavors is our next big push.
Something we also want to keep tabs very closely on is augmented reality. I think the differences in technology will dissolve over time and good AR devices will also be able to do VR pretty well.