By Srinath Srinivasan
Bengaluru-based AutoVRse has been developing virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) solutions for industrial training, enhancing customer experience and, more recently, for VR games. “Three of us started exploring VR after leaving our jobs with a small investment and went without any salary for the first 7-8 months. We then got our first project and our journey started from there,” says Ashwin Jaishanker, CEO and co-founder, AutoVRse.
The startup has since remained bootstrapped, going onto working with brands such as Shell, Volvo, IFB, Bosch, Gojek and TVS Motors. Its proprietary technology is used by enterprises for training purposes in assembly plants, training firefighters in liquified natural gas plants, for marketing purposes in showrooms and workshops where customers can get the feel of the products and see their working, for field service and inspection and for product explainers via games among other applications.
“There is a huge proposition for VR/AR solutions in terms of enabling tasks that will be costly to replicate in real life for multiple people. It is expensive and time consuming to let trainees practise over and over and make mistakes. In marketing, the technology helps capture customers from their first instance of contact with the brand, engage with them by giving an immersive experience and improves conversion rates,” says Jaishanker.
Today, the company is part of the Facebook Oculus ecosystem but things were not easy in the early days. “Five years ago, I used to carry two heavy laptops, multiple cables and VR goggles to set up a demo at a client’s. Today, I just carry two Oculus lenses. The system has evolved,” says Jaishanker. At the same time, he points out that only HTC and Facebook are investing in this technology primarily, with Facebook enjoying a huge market share. “We do not have many alternatives. We import the lenses. It comes from Facebook invariably. South East Asia will be a huge market soon,” he says. Currently, it is not focused on hardware as much due to the complexity and supply chain constraints. “We are planning to enter into consumer VR games,” says Jaishanker.
For an upcoming technology like this, the startup is recruiting talent. “It is not enough to hire developers and content creators only. VR is not 360-degree videos that are shot and loaded onto a phone or a pair of goggles,” says Jaishanker. “To create the best virtual world, one needs to understand both technology and spatial arrangement of the surroundings.”
For this purpose, AutoVRse hires architects and trains them with necessary digital skills. “They have the necessary design creativity by virtue of their profession and pick up digital skills easily,” shares Jaishanker. It is optimistic of the evolving digital trends in India and expects the use of the technology to grow faster here.