Virtual Reality can be used in stronger ways to build a bond between viewer and video than traditional media outlets. With increasing evidence that VR can be more effective than other media in evoking empathy, one of the most interesting avenues of VR usage is the charity sector.
When we found out about an upcoming charity project called Virtual Village via Social Media we instantly got excited and knew we had to interview the founder Vera Grablechner to let us know more about it.
“Virtual Village will be a win-win-win situation for users, beneficiaries and charities. We will disrupt the charity sector.
ARVR: Well let’s start at the beginning, tell me a little more about Virtual Village and what exactly you do?
Vera Grablechner: We are building an immersive, gamified charity experience which is based on 360 degree video content. It can be used as a mobile app with or without VR headset. You must imagine, you put on a VR headset and find yourself in an African village. There are different locations e.g. a medical tent, a school, agricultural fields, etc. which you can explore. Based on the location you access you can find different charities and projects represented which you can support by donating single items e.g. vaccinations in the medical tent or learning material at the school. After your donation the environment changes, so you can see which impact your donation has on beneficiaries. With every donation you earn points with which you can unlock further locations and features. If the required donation for a certain project is too high you can share it with your friends to realise projects together.
ARVR: That sounds really exciting. So when I donate I will be able to visually see the actual effects of the donation through being there in 360. Are you planning for this to be a long standing relationships with each Virtual Village providing weekly/monthly video packages?
VG: In our first environment we represent several charities with projects all over Africa in one African village rather than breaking the experience with content from different villages because it makes it visually more attractive. Moreover, it would be extremely difficult and expensive to record in various villages. The content produced in Africa is meant to last longer than a week or a month. Considering, that Virtual Village is a donation experience – although we are planning to include voluntary opportunities and other features as well – the user behaviour is expected to show a frequent but not as long usage. Having said that, we are also planning to provide content from charity projects in other parts of the world. Africa is just the beginning.
ARVR: I’m feeling that the gamification aspect will really build the emotional connection between the donors and the village. Also you mentioned an African village, what is the reason you have chosen Africa?
VG: In our opinion Africa is the most obvious location to start with as it is the most underdeveloped continent of the world: 75 % of the world’s poorest countries are located in Africa. Over 40 % of all Africans are unable to regularly obtain sufficient food. Almost 40 % of people who lack access to clean water worldwide are located in Sub Saharan Africa. That’s also where more than 500 million people live without electricity. Less than 20 % of African women have access to education which makes them twice as likely to get AIDS. There are even more reasons but I guess you get the idea.
ARVR: So If I have understood correctly, a driving factor is that every donation will have a direct impact on those in need through the represented charity partner. So if I donate I will, for example, know and see that I directly contributed to vaccinations being carried out in a certain area. That is both really exciting and rewarding.
All going well and launching in the second half of the year, what would say are the longterm goals for Virtual Village
VG: Yes, that’s correct. Our long term goals are to create a global network of immersive charity experiences with virtually explorable locations all over the world. All our efforts aim at reaching the United Nation’s sustainable development goals e.g. no poverty, zero hunger, quality education, etc. I also want to point out that it is very important to us to help beneficiaries help themselves e.g. by providing skills and business trainings which allows them to start a business and earn money rather than making them dependent on further donations. We want Virtual Village to be a donation platform where everyone finds a charity project they want to support. Hence, we want to have a high involvement of our users and potential users, having them suggest future locations and vote for them. Basically, Virtual Village will be a win-win-win situation for users, beneficiaries and charities. We will disrupt the charity sector.
ARVR: Thanks for going so in-depth over what exactly Virtual Village is about and stands for. What gave you the inspiration to start Virtual Village?
VG: I only really learnt about Virtual Reality and quickly got very excited about the opportunities of this emerging technology during my postgraduate studies in Digital Media at London Metropolitan University – which I really enjoyed by the way. When we had to think about a meaningful project for Interaction Design, I did some research about how VR is used in the charity sector and found that it had not really exceeded the stage of ‘watch only’ 360 degree videos. Although those immersive charity videos were quite effective at encouraging people who have never used VR before to donate – as UNICEF showed with their short film ‘Clouds over Sidra’, I thought it must be possible to get more out of this empathy machine. After some additional primary research I found that potential donors would be more likely to come back to the video and donate more often if it was interactive and personalised. Moreover, younger people would be more encouraged by a gamified version. So, I put one and one together and further developed the idea of Virtual Village – an immersive, interactive, personalised and gamified charity experience.
ARVR: Lastly, would you be able to share more information on where exactly (country) your first virtual village will be and when you are planning to launch?
VG: Since we represent charities with projects all over Africa in our first environment, we do not want to promote the location of where we will be filming. Of course our users will be informed where exactly the charity projects they support e.g. vaccinations are carried out. So it might be confusing if we say the village is in a certain country. We just want to avoid the user to think all charity projects only support beneficiaries in that particular village. Regarding the launch of Virtual Village, we cannot specify a certain date yet since we have not finished our investment round, yet – yes, we are open for conversations with investors – but we are planning to launch in the second half of this year.
ARVR: Thank you for your time. We wish you every success with the launch!
VG: Thank you
If you are interested in following the developments of Virtual Village VR can visit their website at www.virtualvillagevr.com .
VR/AR Gambling Conference: An interview with their project manager Olga Grigorievskaya
On April 3 2017, Prague will host VR/AR Gambling Conference – an event dedicated to practical solutions for applying VR and AR technologies in the gambling business. The event will anchor a conference engaging VR market leaders and house a demo zone presenting innovative VR gambling solutions.
Exhibitors I-mmersive, a key European manufacturer of virtual reality equipment and software from Berlin and Advir, the first programmatic network for AR and VR advertising along with key speakers in the VR gambling niche like Alexandre Tomic, the creator of the first VR online casino.
ARVR caught up with Olga Grigorievskaya, the Project Manager of the VR/AR Gambling Conference, who gave us a glimpse of what to expect at the first conference.
ARVR: Let us know a little bit about how the AR/VR Gambling Conference started
Olga Grigorievskaya: The relevance of the virtual and augmented reality is beyond any doubts. I believe that VR|AR is a new stage in the society development. A total sum of virtual reality bets will increase from £47 million (in 2016) almost up to £423 million by 2021, according to Juniper Research.
A lot of casinos have already taken steps of implementing VR technologies into their products in order to occupy the VR market niche. For instance, Microgaming has developed a VR roulette table and a fully operating VR casino. Such solutions can be related to rapidly growing popularity of VR. And many specialists predict that it will become a kind of an everyday thing pretty soon.
So we decided to create a platform for expert communication and qualitative development of the sphere of VR/AR in gambling.
ARVR: What can we expect from the upcoming event this April?
We are looking forward to fruitful networking, interesting unique presentations from the speakers, involving more target audience and increasing in the number of interesting VR/AR projects.
Olga Grigorievskaya: You are one of the few AR/VR events in Central Europe. What can you tell us about the choice of location and the AR/VR situation in the Czech Republic?
VR/AR Gambling Conference is the very first global specialized event in regard to the topic. There are several venues, but they are mostly local events or subpanels of conferences. Our conference sets itself an ambitious goal to bring this communication to a new level.
We’ve chosen European location because the USA/Canadian sector has already hit stride concerning VR/AR while central Europe is the latent zone of development in this segment.
Furthermore, it’s difficult to find more beautiful city than Prague, so we would like our guests from Europe and America to get not only the knowledge, but also the pleasure from traveling.
ARVR: Could you share the short- and long-term goals of the AR/VR Gambling Conference?
Olga Grigorievskaya: Short-term goal is to become a platform for business interaction that will lead to professional development and effective business monetising for all participants in the sphere in the long span.
ARVR: Gambling is one of, if not the main theme of your conference. Could you let us know what made you single out this particular niche?
Smile-Expo Company has been organizing large business events for over 10 years, focusing on innovations. One of our keynote and the most successful projects is Russian Gaming Week focused on gambling. We accumulated best practices in such projects as InnoTech, Robotics Expo, AR Conference, Internet of Things, and many others to take a new step forward to better market understanding.
We comprehend the market demand on high quality events, so all interested people are welcome!
Olga Grigorievskaya: What impact you believe AR/VR tech will have on the gambling industry? To the greatest extent possible, because AR/VR is what moves gambling to a qualitatively new level.
Quoting our speaker, Amir Ebrahimi, principal software engineer at Unity Technologies: “VR and AR are relevant in many industries, including gambling. No other medium can provide this level of immersion currently. Consider this — flipping through cards in your hand or moving chips with your real hands in VR or getting a tailored casino experience from some of the largest casinos around the world in the comfort of your home.
ARVR: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us and answer these questions. Do you have any other upcoming events within Augmented or Virtual Reality Technologies?
If you do, could you tell us a little more about them?
Olga Grigorievskaya: In the near future, the fourth innovative conference dedicated to augmented and virtual reality technologies – “AR Conference” – will take place in Russia and throughout the CIS. The third Ukrainian forum of innovative technologies – InnoTech Ukraine – also includes VR zone, same as the In Space forum.
ARVR: Last question, and the one we ask all of our guests – what’s your favourite AR/VR Experience so far?
Olga Grigorievskaya: At the Ice Totally Gaming 2016 exhibition, NetEnt has shown its VR game – Jack and the Beanstalk. It combines a fantastic computer world with dimensional sound, enhancing experience of being a part of this world.
Lucky VR, a developer of gambling video games, has shown for the first time a demo version of blackjack with a voice recognition system and opportunity of transferring into virtual gambling space using Oculus Rift DK2. The company is also working on creating VR slots.
But the most exciting for me was the project of SlotsMillion, this company was the first to launch a VR casino. Using OculusRift glasses, gamblers could attend a futuristic venue and play slots. I am proud to announce that creator of the first VR online casino, cofounder of Alea and SlotsMillion Alexandre Tomic is also among the speakers of VR/AR Gambling Conference. I’m looking forward to hearing his presentation!
At the VR/AR Gambling Conference, each participant will be able to become a part of already implemented VR casino projects, test latest VR/AR innovations and products. Among demo zone participants of the conference will be such companies as Berlin-based VR hardware and software company I-mmersive; Advir, a platform allowing advertisers to serve non-disruptive ads in VR/AR, and lots of others. Every visitor will have an opportunity to choose his favourite AR/VR project.
You can find out more about the VR/AR Gambling Conference on our events page found here.
You can also reach the official website for the event at https://vrargamblingconf.com/en.
VR Awards: An Interview with Daniel Colaianni
The VR Awards is an international awards ceremony, celebrating outstanding achievement in the VR industry. Attendees include some of the biggest names in VR and oers a night of entertainment and celebration, looking back on a previous year of achievement.
With the inaugural awards night scheduled for 23rd September 2017 in London, we reached out to their organizer Daniel Colaianni for a quick chat.
“Our intentions are genuine and will forever continue, to celebrate and recognise outstanding achievement in VR.”
ARVR: Let us know a little bit about how the idea to bring the VR awards to London come about
Daniel Colaianni: After speaking to so many amazing people in the VR industry and seeing just what people can achieve in such a short amount of time, we wanted to find a way to celebrate them and give them the recognition they deserve. Being based in the UK and wanting to make the VR Awards a global effort, London offers an opportunity for people from across Europe, China and the US to come together in one of the most centralised and most prestigious venues in London (just 5 minutes away from Buckingham Palace.)
ARVR: Tell us about the judging panel and what we can expect from the inaugural award show this September.
Daniel: The judging panel features some of the most renowned experts in their field. When piecing together the VR Awards judging panel we wanted to combine extensive knowledge from all areas of the industry to complete an unbiased nominations system. We know just how much of a passion each of them share to see our industry succeed and to support the individuals and companies in VR no matter how big or small.
ARVR: Are we going to see to be seeing the VR Awards as a yearly event?
Daniel: Of course! The VR Awards is going to be an international awards show that grows year on year to celebrate achievement in immersive technologies.We may be in our first year of the VR awards but with our experience (and more importantly passion for VR and other immersive technologies), the VR Awards is set to become the yearly event for the VR industry.
ARVR: Could you share the short and longterm goals of the VR awards?
Daniel: VR Bound has a lot of plans for how to grow and celebrate outstanding achievement in VR and eventually AR. Our main mission is to find ways to re-invest the VR Awards back into the industry through strategic partnerships and incentives to support businesses and individuals in this growing industry. Our intentions are genuine and will forever continue, to celebrate and recognise outstanding achievement in VR.
ARVR: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us and answer these questions. Your also the founder of VR Bound, tell us a little bit more about your company and what your doing in the VR space?
Daniel: VR Bound was founded as a hardware centric site to educate consumers and businesses on the technology of VR. We let people know what hardware is out there, the most upto date prices and where to buy them all through our database of headsets and accessories. We also work with businesses to implement VR hardware solutions from start to finish.
With the VR industry booming, we actively evolve with the industry to enhance, and support new technology and advancements in VR and hope to inspire a new generation of users, young and old, by showing them the endless possibilities with VR.
ARVR: Last question, whats your favourite AR/VR Experience so far?
Daniel: Ah, that would be telling now wouldn’t it 😉
Nominations are now open for the VR Awards. If you would like to know more about the awards or make a nomination we encourage you to visit their official website at https://awards.vrbound.com/awards/
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