Virtual Reality

Spatialand and VR are Coming to Wal-Mart

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Earlier this week, news broke that Walmart bought Spatialand, a virtual reality design company, to add to its portfolio company Store No 8. Store No 8 describes itself as "an innovation hub" that tests new ideas to improve the retail industry. While not even a year old, Store No 8 has moved fast to snap up technology initiatives. For example, it's working on developing cashier-less stores and the ability to order products via text. Now that Spatialand has been added, it's clear that Wal-Mart wants to experiment with using VR to heighten the shopping experience. But how would that help? 

One excellent possibility comes from Spatialand's founder herself, Kimberly Cooper. Cooper's done work on titles like Iron Man, Rogue One, Metal Gear Solid, and Destiny, so she's got some impressive work under her belt. She points out that VR could bolster product design, boosting "creative freedom" and hailing the kind of benefits that immersive tech could bring to sectors beyond retail. 

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On the other side of retail, supply chains may also benefit from the enhanced technology. Bill Bishop, a member of retail consulting firm Brick Meets Click, says that VR could make inventory tracking a lot easier. After all, if you only have "to move them around with a mouse and not have the store labor do it", it could help reduce human error and make things much easier to track and handle. 

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Of course these are only two examples, but the team seems very excited to start finding even more. Katie Finnegan, the principal of Store No 8 and now interim CEO of Spatialand, stated that "The team will develop and explore new products and uses of VR through immersive retail environments that can be incorporated by all facets of Walmart, online and offline."

It's too early to tell how far virtual reality may end up changing the experience at Wal-Mart. It may offer added convenience to both the consumer and supplier; it may end up revolutionizing the system as much as the barcode. There's some real talent behind Wal-Mart's intitiative though, and it'll be exciting to see what ends up coming of it.

Virtual Reality and the Future of Animation

Within the last couple of years, virtual reality has taken off and companies continue to use the latest technology to advance us within this realm. As virtual reality becomes something that is accessible to all consumers, it's important to think about how filmmakers are and will be creating content for VR. Today we'll look at products and trends in virtual reality and think about how this could be a mainstream way of watching animated content in the future. 

Multiple production companies are thinking about how they can produce quality content for VR. One of the biggest problems for animators is that it's so time consuming to create the content, and the technology is improving quickly. An article on The Verge explains how most animated content only lasts about 10 minutes. Baobab which has over $6 million in funding from Comcast Ventures recently explained that "From a technology viewpoint, tech changes so quickly that by the time we could finish a full length film, the tech would be obsolete." (Read the full article from The Verge here.) 

Although animated content for VR can be hard to produce, that doesn't mean it's not being produced. In fact, there's been an incredible amount of VR content produced for the Sundance Film Festival and most recently, the Tribeca Film Festival. 

Not only is virtual reality a way for us to view content for the purpose of entertainment or gaming, it's making waves in education by giving students who are visual learners a new way to experience the lesson plan. Virtual reality has even been used for surgeons to map out brain activity and remove a tumor during brain surgery. 

Some of the most common virtual reality viewers include the Samsung Gear VR (powered by Oculus), PlayStation VR, HTC Vive (pre-order available now), and of course the extremely accessible, Google Cardboard

So should you go out and buy a headset? VR is extremely new and there are still quite a few kinks to work out before it becomes a mainstream way of viewing animated content. However, it sure is fun to play with for now! 

We think this is a very exciting space and have started to explore how we can create animated content for VR. We look forward to sharing more as we get into it deeper.