Hey, I am Aurélie, co-founder of Uptale. 2017 was a pretty exciting year: We’ve built a unique platform to create interactive experiences in 360° and Virtual Reality. Here is why and how:
“Wow”, “this is sooo cool”, “Amazing!!”
These are the kind of verbatims you hear when people try VR for the first time. In 2016, Dwayne, David, Seb and I (Uptale co-founders) fell in love with this full-of-potential new technology.
We realized quickly that VR wasn’t only a cool gadget used to play new games, watch new kind of movies and to show off innovative concepts at exhibitions and seminars. It is also an incredible tool for Learning, Education, and Training.
With AI, robots and automation of jobs, 800 million individuals could be displaced need to find new jobs by 2030. Among them, up to 375 million people may need to switch occupational categories and learn new skills. (“Jobs lost, jobs gained: Workforce transitions in a time of automation”, Mckinsey study nov.2017).
Add to this figures longer professional careers and the necessity of lifelong training to acquire the knowledge and skills at every age, and you will get one of the most important challenges of our modern era: Learning and Education in an AI age.
Issue #1: Have you ever heard anyone saying “wow”, “this is soooo cool”, “Amazing!!” to an e-learning, a powerpoint or a tutorial video?
Virtual Reality, and more broadly Mixed Reality, opens a new era in Learning: it enables people to learn in real-life situation, remotely, and enjoy it at the same time.
Despite looking like a sci-fi practice, we believe Immersive Learning is indeed the most “human” way to acquire new hard and soft skills while reaching a large audience.
We are certainly not the first ones to believe Mixed Realities are great for learning. HTC Vive, Hololens and other Oculus headsets have bloomed in all events, trade shows. Companies have been testing it for several years, especially the ones who used to pay for simulators. But…
Issue #2: Virtual Reality doesn’t scale in B2B (yet)
Custom 3D environments content is great…really… if you have a significant budget. Otherwise you end up with standard 3D models which are not very representative of reality, and could be felt cold or end up counter productive.
Did you know that 95% of situations already exists or can be easily replicated in real-life, with real people? So why not considering shooting in 360° instead of 3D-modeling everything from scratch or with templates?
We believe that 360-Video for learning purposes can be way easier to produce while being more realistic than a 3D model rendered by a mid-range computer.
Some cameras like the Ricoh Theta V let anyone, even newbies, create fairly good-quality 360° photos and videos. Plus, 360° videos are easy to share and open on any device in 360° or VR.
Well, add interactions to them, and you end up having a “new-generation” learning module where the learners become the heroes of stories: make decisions, discover elements, and see the impacts of their actions.
Our mission: Make “Immersive Learning” as easy to create and share as “e-learning”
We believe that anyone who has valuable knowledge that can be shared visually can become an Immersive Learning creator. For that 2 ingredients are key:
Solution #1: Make it easy for the learners to access it
The VR headsets market remains sluggish, despite recent good sales of the Playstation VR, hitting 2 million units sold end of 2017. The time hasn’t come yet for every household to own their Mixed Reality device.
It is even more striking when you look at the type of hardware companies provide to their employees, which are very often far from being powerful enough to support VR headsets.
So we decided to choose the only one thing everyone who has an internet connection has access to: the Web.
Our experiences are based on WebVR, using Aframe’s framework, which lets users access Immersive Learning experience on recent browsers such as Chrome, Mozilla, Safari and Microsoft Edge.
Viewers can watch our experiences/modules in interactive 360° on laptops and tablets, and activate the VR mode with smartphone + cardboard-like glasses or VR headsets.
If Internet is not accessible or you want to host the experiences on your own platforms or LMS, here are all the ways to enjoy an Uptale experience:
Solution #2: Make it easy for creators to build, edit, share and track their own experience
With Uptale Studio your own 360VR experience is ready to share after 4 steps and few clicks, no technical knowledge is required
Step 1: UPLOAD
Exclusive features helping you being more productive: Online encoding, online recording, online trimming and text-to-speech audios in 18 languages.
Step 2: ADD MAGIC
Exclusive features helping you being more creative: 3D customizable icons, invisible elements, triggers, questions, conditional storytelling, gamification
Step 3: SHARE
Exclusive features helping you being more visible: smartload, exports to Uptale box for classroom trainings, SCORM 1.2, SCORM 2004, Single Sign On capacity
Step 4: TRACK
Exclusive features helping you being more efficient: user activities, tag activities, attention levels, completion rate, scores
We’ve built Uptale Studio addressing needs of prestigious clients such as Accenture, Danone, Schneider Electric and with the support of Microsoft and Station F
Our super talented team of engineers started to build the Alpha version of the tool beginning of 2017 and we’ve been implementing new features every week since then.
Some features were directly imagined by our clients: Cross-scenes background audio (Veolia), loops of 360° videos (Vinci Energies), and the capacity to manage multi-languages (Schneider Electric) for instance.
Today we are proud to count+100 experiences created with the tool
You can even watch some of them by yourself!
We’ve been distinguished by both “Learning” and “VR” industry experts… and even a President!
We were super proud to be visible in several media, blog posts, TV interviews and other press releases. 2017 ended with 2 great achievements: Winning the Learning Genius award, for the most innovative start-ups in Learning and Education…and winning the 1st Prize by Rockstar VR/AR organized in Paris.
and we also had the chance to meet François Hollande, former french President whose supporting projects with social impact through his foundation “La France s’engage”.
What’s up in 2018?
We’ll keep helping creators to create and learners to enjoy their Immersive Experiences: UX improvements, compatibility with new headsets.
Only 20% of our code base stands for the VR experience itself. 60% is about cloud & cognitive services, and the last 20% is our “secret sauce” to offer our users advanced features in the future 🙂
The team is now 11 people and we keep looking for new talents
Thank you to everyone who have been part of this adventure in 2017, 2018 is going to be even more exciting!