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Articles in Category: March 2015

Is there a place for Virtual Reality in business?

on Thursday, 26 March 2015. Posted in March 2015

By Peter Andrew

Virtual Reality (VR) is starting to touch on more and more real life scenarios and we believe that almost every aspect of our lives and businesses has the potential to be embracing VR quicker than we might think. But what does this mean for business?

VR is the term commonly used to refer to a computer-simulated environment that represents places or objects in either the real or an imagined world. Also referred to as immersive multimedia, the most likely place where the man on the street will come into contact with VR regularly today is in computer gaming. 

Immersive experiences are all about appealing to more of our senses and since engaging consumers is what marketing is all about, it’s easy to see why VR has such great potential in the business world today. This, together with the fact that we’re all turning to our computers and mobile devices to seek knowledge and to carry out research makes it completely logical that the ability to make something seem real on a screen is a highly powerful money making tool with huge potential.

The problem with VR to date has been how to create an immersive experience without having to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on hardware to support the imagery. The likes of the military and communication sectors have embraced simulation and VR over the years, but the cost of convincing displays were beyond the majority of businesses. 

That said, innovations such as the Cobra Curved Display have enabled truly immersive technology to come within the reach of businesses, gamers and individuals with only relatively modest budgets. This type of innovation, together with headsets such as Oculus Rift, Gameface and Morpheous mean that convincing, truly immersive VR is a whole lot closer than we imagined even a couple of years ago or so.

Read about the companies taking advantage of the virtual reality trend:
Gamers lead the way and luxury brands follow

Affordable and convincing immersive headsets mean that everyone from gamers to luxury brands is enjoying the opportunities opened up by VR. There’s no doubt that gamers are the most demanding and vociferous consumers of VR right now. They are accustomed to being on the other side of a TV screen, a tablet or a PC, but they want a whole lot more. They want to be convinced that they are truly part of the game they’re playing. They’re demanding to be immersed.

Curved screen technology and headsets mean that senses are heightened and the whole gaming experience takes on a new edge. The likes of the Wii and the Xbox Kinect also provide immersion by including the body in the action. Adding gestures to sight and sound has served to further heighten the immersion in these games; but is it enough? One thing is for sure and it’s the fact that gamers are likely to push innovators in this field to their limit.

But it’s not only gamers who are pushing the boundaries when it comes to VR. This year’s Web Summit saw Audi using the Oculus Rift VR experience to showcase its new vehicle. Audi Ireland, who was official car sponsor of The Web Summit 2014 used VR technology to support the launch of their new A3 Sportback E-tron in the hope that it would seriously excite attendees. It certainly got lots of press coverage and adrenaline from those testing it was running high.

The luxury car brand used the Oculus Rift to offer consumers and delegates the chance to experience the new model first-hand using VR and spec the add-ons they would like to see in their own personalised Audi model. Question is, will this disrupt the car market and will it be the end of the car showroom?

In our view, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to luxury brands enabling their target market to immerse themselves in a world that they could become part of if they choose to invest in the right brands. Our belief is that it won’t be long before luxury tour operators and high-end property sales executives will be using VR to share the experience that their brands promise to seduce potential buyers.

Training opportunities

Other significant business opportunities for VR are in training and collaboration. In the oil gas sector, as well as the education and medical sectors, the opportunities are huge. Training that takes place in a safe environment such as the simulation tool from Live Visualisation means fewer compliance constraints, lower risk and fewer accidents. Education that’s delivered virtually is already proving a huge hit with academic institutions worldwide, but convincingly immersive VR will take this experience to a whole new level.

A great way to communicate

Accustomed to Skype and other forms of video communication, we’re all ripe for VR in communication. No matter whether the goal is to meet and discuss without the need to travel or to deliver quality guidance and communication to inaccessible countries or locations, VR simply has to be the solution.

Peter Andrew is head of innovation and incubation services at Alba Innovation Centre
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Evolving tech start-up reaps benefits of academic partnership

on Monday, 09 March 2015. Posted in March 2015

Local Tech Company Cobra simulation benefits from business students’ expertise

Young evolving technology start-up Cobra Simulation today announced that it has rolled out the first phase of its strategic marketing plan by launching its new, simple yet sharp and informative website

Interface connected Cobra with theUniversity Of Edinburgh Business School .The project was headed up internally by Suzie Larcombe a professional marketing and communication consultant with a team of Executive MBA students.

Interface helps companies like Cobra contribute to the Scottish economy through business-academic partnerships. In 2014 the contribution was £17m and is expected to increase to £ 80 million by 2018, along with the creation of up to 2,400 new jobs.

Cobra Simulation is a simulation-based immersive technology solutions provider for the training, communication, medical and entertainment sectors.

Alexander Bradley, Managing Director at Cobra Simulation said:

“Companies must adapt to ever changing market conditions and be clear about their message to clients. If you do not keep up with change, understand your business or correctly plan for the future then you will not continue to grow.

That’s why it’s important to work with the right people; people like Suzie Larcombe and take advantage of great schemes like Interface whose core objective is to bring together academia and commercial interests to generate positive outcomes for our economy and the people who help drive it.

For a small growing company having the right people makes the difference. When we heard about Interface and recognised the need to clearly define our future we jumped at the opportunity to work with Malcolm Kirkup (Director MBA Programmes and Director of Educational Innovation) and Copil Yanez (MBA Relationship Manager) and their MBA Executive team at the University Of Edinburgh Business School. The experience from start to finish was fantastic and a huge learning curve. Both Suzie and the team of Executive MBAs went out of their way to ensure we got as much value from the project as possible. And I am proud to announce that phase 1 of that plan; our new website has now gone live.”

Louise Arnold, Business Engagement Executive at Interface, successfully brought together Cobra Simulation and the University of Edinburgh Business School. The project had reciprocal benefits for all parties. Cobra Simulation was introduced to a highly skilled team of business leaders from some of the world’s most recognised corporates to dig deep into the underbelly of the company and put together a strategic marketing plan to be implemented in 2015.

The team of Executive MBA students each worked with Cobra Simulation and Suzie over an eight week period to formulate the plan. The project has already proven to be hugely beneficial for the MBA Executives having received Distinctions for their work. It is an excellent example of where academic and commercial collaboration can help drive education, understanding, partnerships and our economy forward.

Suzie Larcombe is best known for her uncanny ability to help product and service providers communicate their solutions succinctly and appealingly to their target market. Bringing her years of experience to the business, Suzie is ensuring that the work carried out by the MBA Executives is integrated into the business across the various touch points, starting with Cobra Simulations website.

2012 Olympic Park Designs and Oxford University contracts are only two examples of where she’s enabled her clients to win bids by appealing to their client’s (sometimes unspoken) pains or problems. Suzie joined Cobra in March 2014 to support its management team with its communications and marketing strategy.

Asked what attracted her to Cobra Simulation she first said: “because Alex makes great tea, he eats bridies and crisps.”

She went on to say: “on a serious note, I think I was attracted by Alex’s down to earth and self-deprecating LinkedIn profile. I also saw it as a huge challenge that he had created this great piece of kit but didn't know really why folk would buy it.”

Dr Siobhán Jordan, Director at Interface, said: “We are at a really exciting time for innovation in Scotland and Interface is playing a key part in making sure that businesses know about the benefits of working with the Higher Education Institutions, from testing new products or services to developing existing ones.
Like Cobra, there are some fantastic examples of this, however, many companies are still unaware that they could work with higher education institutions in the first place, or of the knowledge, specialist facilities and technologies which exist and which could make a real difference to their business.
In fact, 79% of the businesses we have helped have seen an increase in turnover and a growing number have returned to work with academics and researchers to further develop a product or service, having realised the benefit from the first time round.”

Visit the Cobra Simulation website to see first-hand how the impact of this project has changed the company’s shop front Or perhaps you would like to find out more about the scheme by contacting interface