A conversation with Tony Edwards, Jooced Custom Sound and Vision, on how he uses VR as a sales tool.
CEDIA: First, how are you using VR in your business? What specific systems or devices are you using?
Tony Edwards: We use VR for mockups of our cinema rooms to help engage the client and give an accurate representation of the design and space. This allows our clients to make informed design decisions before moving forward.
We also used VR for the design and implementation of our showroom in Rugby. This ensured the various trades involved could see our vision and execute it without any guesswork. It was a massive help.
CEDIA: Are you planning on sticking with this process?
Edwards: Yes. Going back to just overhead drawings at this stage feels like a step back into the Stone Age.
CEDIA: What problems, if any, have you encountered with the technology?
Edwards: We have found if you are too heavily reliant on the virtual reality system it can mean the guesswork on the project can translate to the dimensions. This is why we ensure we have detailed plan and elevation drawings to supplement the VR representation
Additionally, Some people find it difficult to accept the technology -- it makes them feel unbalanced.
CEDIA: That leads to the next question: Are clients ever reticent to use the technology?
Edwards: I do find sometimes people are a little shy when it comes to putting on the headgear but once they are immersed in the environment, they almost forget the wider world around them and fully focus on the decisions which need to be made.
CEDIA: How has the tech developed or advanced in the time you’ve been using it and how?
Edwards: I have found the speed a VR render can now be created is far quicker than it was when we first adopted the technology.
CEDIA: How successful has this strategy been?
Edwards: We have won several six-figure projects with the aid of the VR showroom. It just helps people imagine themselves in the space. Once people have experienced the tech at our showroom and then seen their room firsthand it’s much easier to close the deal.
CEDIA: What advances would you like to see next?
Edwards: Live alterations in real time. For instance, we could change room colors and equipment to meet the client’s request then and there. This likely exists – or is in development – I just haven’t come across it yet.
CEDIA: Let’s zoom out a little. What other applications can this tech be used for – gaming and entertainment, obviously, but what about education/training, for example? You mentioned how helpful it was in sharing the vision for your showroom with other tradespeople.
Edwards: I think this technology will become far more prevalent in manual and risk-based professions for training in a safe environment prior to real world experience. Take my background in the electrical industry, for instance. Live work training could be performed in VR or AR. It has the potential to save lives and cut down on work-based injuries during the training process.
CEDIA: How important will audio be in any of these other applications?
Edwards: Audio is massively important to complete the immersive experience.
CEDIA: And how important will haptics be as this tech develops?
Edwards: As with audio haptics help immerse the user in the experience. With training for instance, it will vastly help the user feel the connections being made in the experience.
CEDIA: What are the dangers inherent in this technology?
Edwards: Addiction especially in gaming is a real concern but I think the positives vastly override the dangers.