VR in travel: show us the money

We’ve seen a large rise in interest in deploying virtual reality from the travel sector with companies as diverse at Expedia, Marriott and Quantas pitching in with early innovations in the travel booking, hospitality and airline sectors respectively. VR’s appeal from a travel perspective is not that difficult to see.

As a service, travel is what academics like to call an ‘experience good’, in that its value can only be truly determined by consuming or experiencing it. A bottle of wine is the classic example of an experience physical good, and travel is equally so in services. In the case of wine though, it’s possible to allow people to sample the product before purchase, and in-store wine demos are highly effective in this regard. However for travel this is not practicable, from a logistics or price perspective. Hence the high reliance on recommendation sites among customers to use reputation as a gauge to likely quality.

However VR is set to disrupt this process. The ability to experience vicariously a destination offers nimble marketers the opportunity to steal a march on competitors. While a recent study in Italy found that VR was not a substitute for travel, its advantage lies as a sampler at the choice stage with examples including Norweigan Airlines promoting their routes to the US, or in the case of Australian tourism where a commissioned a series of online VR experiences was found to consider places they would not otherwise have done, and led to a 64% rise in online engagement.

Moving from the web to an live retail context – the travel agency space – Thomas Cook report that one in ten users of the technology at its Bluewater [Kent] store is booking a holiday there and then. A VR helicopter tour of Manhattan boosted revenues for the real thing by 190pc. While these metrics are undoubtedly impressive, irrespective of how the technology is refined, we need to see more evidence-based studies confirming VR effectiveness before we see a more rapid adoption.

2017 Conference Review

A week on from this year’s conference and we’re still receiving plenty of plaudits from attendees. Among the most gratifying things we’ve heard was the sentiment that real business leads were evident for the first time. Partly this might be a result of the expanded space and profile for the exhibition space, but also it surely reflects a tipping point for the AR and VR space. Delegates were certainly engaged with the case studies in particular. Of particular note this year was the large presence from Northern Ireland – an area that is certainly punching above its weight in immersive technology companies. The Irish Times Charlie Taylor was among many of the media attending and his report into the conference is a great synopsis of the day.

Speaker to address Crisis Management issues in AR

Our latest confirmed speaker is Nicola King – Associate Director at global reputation management consultancy Teneo Blue Rubicon, whose clients include Google, Activision Blizzard, Facebook and Instagram. Nicola has extensive experience in risk, issues and crisis management and has worked with companies across a range of sectors to help them understand the risks they face and how to respond when a true crisis hits.

What will Nicola speak on ?

With the growing implementation of AR and VR across multiple industries, this technology is increasingly being utilised in a variety of ways. This is creating challenges as emerging issues arise which may not have been considered by the developers. Drawing on her extensive experience with Pokemon Go and other clients, Nicola will outline how to crisis manage any of these problem issues and how to protect the company and product brand in the event of any significant emergency situations developing.

Eye Tracking and Augmented Reality

The latest speaker to our fantastic line-up for ARVR Innovate 2017 is Ann McNamara from the Department of Visualization at Texas A&M University. In her presentation to delegates Ann will explore how, using eye-tracking to inform AR and VR applications, compelling AR and VR applications need to figure out how to get the right information onto a user’s screen, in just the right place, at just the right moment.

Showing too much information can confuse the user, but not showing enough can render an application useless.  Finding the sweet spot in between the the challenge for developers and marketers alike.

Probing user attention can get us closer to that sweet spot. If we know where a user is looking we simply deliver the information they want in a location where they can process it. Ann and her colleagues’ research involves measuring where the user is looking in a scene as a way to help decide where to place virtual content. With AR and VR poised to infiltrate many areas of our lives, from driving, to work, to education– we’ll need to solve these types problem before we can rely on AR and VR to provide support for serious or critical actions.

About Ann McNamara

Ann McNamara is an Associate professor and Associate Department Head at the Department of Visualization at Texas A&M University. Her research focuses on novel approaches for optimizing an individual’s experience when creating, viewing and interacting with virtual and augmented spaces. She is the recipient of an NSF CAREER AWARD entitled “Advancing Interaction Paradigms in Mobile Augmented Reality using Eye Tracking”. This project investigates how mobile eye tracking, which monitors where a person is looking while on the go, can be used to determine what objects in a visual scene a person is interested in, and thus might like to have annotated in their augmented reality view.

Why your boss should send you to ARVR Innovate Dublin on May 11th.

You’ve already sussed out the early-bird rate, and have identified a few really interesting speakers you would like to meet, but sometimes the boss needs a little more nudging – budgets for attending conferences can often be tight, especially if you were not at a previous ARVR Innovate ( check out the great testimonials from previous attendees )

So here are some great reasons to get that PO form signed off.

Attending ARVR Innovate will help make you a better asset to your organization, and you’ll be updating your knowledge in an area that even Tim Cook of Apple says is a priority…

I regard [augmented reality] as a big idea like the smartphone. The smartphone is for everyone, we don’t have to think the iPhone is about a certain demographic, or country or vertical market: it’s for everyone. I think AR is that big, it’s huge. I get excited because of the things that could be done that could improve a lot of lives.

Whether you’re still mastering the core competencies you’ll need to apply in the workplace, or you’re looking to leverage your demonstrated leadership skills, ARVR Innovate is the perfect place for you.

We’re putting together a day of idea generation to address challenges, work more effectively, drive revenue, engage your audiences, and improve worker productivity at your organization.

You’ll walk away with actionable tips to implement AR and VR with your team when you return to the office. ARVR Innovate is the place for you to nurture existing relationships while building new ones.

How often can you meet face-to-face, let alone have access to all the latest technologies and user case-studies all in one location at the same time?At ARVR Innovate, you can evaluate and test the latest products and technology in your area of expertise. We’re bringing the top speakers in Europe in the AR and VR field to our event and they cover the whole spectrum of user case-studies from enterprise and consumer perspectives.

Spend time in our Expo area to get hands-on experience that will help you guide the decision-making process when your organization is ready to make the move into AR and VR. Discuss emerging trends in the AR and VR field and find new avenues to approach future issues and technologies. We have some great start-up companies from Ireland, UK, Austria and Germany attending too, who are keen to meet potential investors and partners.

You’ll walk away with new ideas, and possibly even solutions to existing challenges you’re facing at your organization. So don’t delay…book now.

stARtup Profile – AVRLON – Berlin

This year’s conference will have a great new addition – the stARtup Demozone. Over the past few weeks we’ve been receiving loads of applications to join our event, from companies near and far… and over the next few weeks we’ll be introducing you to who you can meet in Dublin….first up is AVRLON.

AVRLON is a Berlin based VR start-up in the gaming space. In Dublin they will be showcasing Elemental Combat – a fast-paced, competitive Virtual Reality game that blends the speed and intensity of an FPS with martial arts and RPG elements.Players can use their hands to let fire fall from the sky or raise mighty walls of earth in VR -it’s possible also to develop a customised avatar.

David Gattig
CEO & Co-Founder




Ireland to feature in US virtual reality experience

A virtual reality attraction is coming to Busch Gardens Williamsburg in spring of 2018, the park announced. Pass members in attendance helped announce the park’s plans during a card reveal that displayed a “Virtual Reality 2018” logo. The new attraction will be located in a virtual “Ireland” on the former site of Europe in America, utilizing virtual reality headsets and a state-of-the-art motion simulator. A name has not been decided, but the ride is based on a hidden world of mythical characters in Ireland.


“This new virtual reality attraction will dramatically transform the capabilities of our motion simulator and deliver a truly unique experience,” Busch Gardens President David Cromwell said. “We will create an immersive environment that all families can enjoy.”


This announcement is the latest in a series of developments which have seen adventure park administrators seek to use VR technology build  more immersive experiences for the attendees. Among the most recent announcements have been Six Flags New England who will launch this April a VR enhanced roller-coaster ride – The Mind Eraser.


Samsung have been announced as the Official Technology Partner for the Six Flags VR experiences. This type of partnership is one that allows companies such as Samsung an excellent way to build trial among receptive audiences. Given the theme of the  Busch Gardens experience, perhaps the ideal partner this time would be Tourism Ireland?

Construction sector takes to AR

As the construction industry in Ireland shakes off the impact of a crushing recession, the cranes have started to appear again on the horizon in large numbers. All over the downtown area there are several large scale projects under construction, from office and residential buildings in Silicon Docks area, to student accommodation blocks and the massive DIT Grangegorman campus project in the north inner city.

Many of these projects are among the first to see the deployment of augmented reality  as a tool for both concept creation and visualization, and for ongoing maintenance and facilities management functions. With the use of AR and VR there is the possibility to immerse oneself in a digital recreation of a real-world environment; something that offers a powerful opportunity in designing a building and enabling others to also get a sense of the concept.

A number of companies who have participated in ARVR Innovate in the past are among the leaders in technology solutions for the construction industry.


DAQRI are leaders in the deployment of their Smart Helmet for construction AR solutions. Below is a video showing how DAQRI and Autodesk partnered on integrating their BIM360 platform with DAQRI Smart Helmet. The AR application highlighted the dynamic benefits to on-site Mortenson Construction project managers in a complex hospital construction.



Scottish company Soluis are another company who, in 2015, entered and won a competition organised by Innovate UK, the government agency which works to “find and drive the science and technology innovations that will grow the UK economy”.

Aimed at encouraging innovation around AR/VR, the competition encompassed themes such as Smart Construction and Immersive Retail, pairing the winners in each discipline with a different partner.

Winning the prize gave Soluis the opportunity to develop and trial a product called ‘InSite’ with Crossrail, which is Europe’s largest construction project, and involves the construction of a new rail line for Central London, which is due to open in 2018.



Vuframe are a company that specialize in developing Apps to help at the end of the construction process, when real estate needs to be sold. They work with a number of leading software providers such as Vuforia to develop projects such as  Discover THE MARK, the fifth-tallest building in Seattle and enjoy panorama views of Seattle’s skyline from four different floors.

Ireland steps up a gear in AR and VR

This week brought some very welcome news for those of us wishing to see more acceleration of the AR and VR ecosystem in Ireland, on two fronts.

Firstly there was the official launch of Accenture’s The Dock bringing a promised 300 high level jobs in technology innovation. While the focus of the PR blurb was on Artificial Intelligence it’s likely that AR and VR will also form a key area of development, given the close, and growing,  relationship between the technologies.  And this week saw the launch of a dedicated Ireland  Shard Capital VC fund.

The Fund invests in early stage software companies in the Financial Technology (‘FinTech’), Augmented Reality (‘AR’), Virtual Reality (‘VR’), and Internet of Things (‘IoT’) sectors.  Management of the Fund is led by Barry Downes, previously  CEO of TSSG a leading international software research institute, which has delivered over 120 technology and innovation projects for start-ups over the past three years, and which has participated at previous ARVR Innovate conferences. We have seen a large increase in start-ups in the AR and VR space in Ireland recently so this initiative is a great boon to help them move to the next stage…..and while we’re on the topic of startups, don’t forget if you are an AR or VR startup we may have a place for you at this year’s conference. Check out our STARTUP section.