Praveen Bhaniramka, CEO of VizExperts, sits down for a talk with Startup 18, about how the company is contributing towards improving our countries battlefield standards. The interview started with an introduction on the company and its founder before going into the specifics and ending with his perspective about Virtual Reality Applications and Augmented Reality. The following is a lightly edited transcript of the interview.
Virtual Reality Applications in the Serious Gaming domain
How will Virtual Reality be used in Defence as well as daily use cases?
Virtual Reality is going to get bigger and better as the technology evolves. The most exciting thing about Virtual Reality is its application in training. When the soldiers in our armed forces enter the battlefield to fight insurgents, may it be Naxals or terrorists, VR is a great way to training these personnel in the various situations they may face on the battlefield. This will help ensure that they are better prepared for those situations. So one can call VR a game changer for training applications, especially in the defence sector. The way I see it, this industry can be transformed by bringing in imagery by means of 3D GIS and bringing it into VR. By bringing in real data and inputting it into the Synthetic World or Virtual World, we can apply this data in ways that will make it more interactive and immersive. This will allow us to improve training standards. In the defence sector I am very excited about VR and its rise in popularity. This area, I believe is called Serious Gaming Industry and I think Virtual Reality is going to be a game changer in this Industry.
When it comes to Virtual Reality applications for the common man, let me tell you about my son who is an avid user of the game Pokémon GO. We at VizExperts have some ideas of our own to create some really cool things for kids. What I can tell you is that VR and even Augmented Reality is going to be a game changer when it comes to the growth and development of kids going forward. We can use this to develop things in the ‘Edutainment” space, like teaching kids how cars work, how planes fly, one of my favourites is teaching kids how to play Hot Wheels game and allowing them to make Hot Wheels tracks up to any size. This will help them to learn Basic Designing Skills, they can also learn Architecture even if only the Basics. This is the kind of growth I feel VR will take us into, in the near future.
Tips for young Entrepreneurs starting out in this area?
I think the first requirement, since this is a cutting edge area, is to learn to keep up with the continuous evolving nature of this technology, since the 3D graphics area moves faster than Moore’s Law. Passion for the industry is also very important to succeed. Having the passion for technology, VR, interactive graphics will allow and even enable you to stay ahead of the curve in this industry. One thing you should understand is that it is not about the fun, yes, VR and gaming is a lot of fun, but you need to understand what the end customer wants and why they would pay for it. That is a problem that us techies are not very good at. Understanding why a customer would buy our services and technology is what will define a successful entrepreneur. When it comes to recruiting talented people, we have been fortunate to find people who are passionate for VR and Graphics. What we do here at VizExperts is that we hire people for their passion and then train them for the skillset. We have a very capable senior team, who have both the skillset and the passion which allows us to train passionate people very quickly. We are a platform agnostic company, we basically build software and integrate hardware. Silicon Graphics, which is where I worked before this was a hardware company. So this can be called as my Expertise. I am very good at understanding and integrating hardware into various applications. May it be Apple, Google or Facebook, we understand how to take technology and integrate it so that it works for the customer.
What is the best platform out of VR and AR for training purposes?
VR and AR are not necessarily separate, the difference is that with AR one can achieve a higher level of immersion than with VR. But, VR today, is capable of giving you much higher fidelity interactions which AR cannot. If you have played Pokemon GO then you will understand what I mean. AR still has some ways to go before it can match that level of fidelity which we are able to achieve in VR. In the long term though, where I would like to have soldiers training ‘really’ on the ground, can be achieved better with the help of AR. AR is basically me putting live soldiers into a real forest and enabling virtual enemies to attack, whereas in VR, the whole forest is virtual including the soldier. When it comes to AR, I would have to create these virtual soldiers in real situations, which is difficult in comparison to VR where one has to simply create a complete Virtual World. So there are applications for both, depending on the requirement, in some cases AR will be more suitable and in some cases VR. But what I feel is in the long term AR is the right thing for a real immersion experience. There are two things that are really important in such applications, one is the visual fidelity and the other is the interaction. Innovations are needed in both areas. What I expects from AR is actual feedback when one interacts with a virtually created being. For example, while shaking a virtual hand we want to get the feeling that we are actually shaking someone’s hand, what we get in today’s AR is our hand going through the projection. So AR has a long way to go before it reaches the level that I am envisioning.
You can view the entire interview here.