By Charmian Leong
The world has never been more connected than it is now. The internet, mobile devices and social networks have enabled society to communicate in ways that were unimaginable just a few decades ago. But it is virtual reality (VR) that is taking these digital connections to a new level, and companies like Immersively are at the forefront of this wave.
Founded by Lionel Chok (right) last June, Immersively is a creative technology startup that specialises in augmented reality (AR), VR, and 360-degree technologies. Having been in the media and design industry for more than 18 years, Lionel took a break to pursue a Masters degree in technology in London in 2014.
“I chose AR and VR because they were closely linked to my background. When I came back to Singapore, people started to contact me for consulting jobs,” he said. “One job led to another, and eventually I decided to launch my own company so I could respond to the market’s needs.”
At barely a year old, Immersively already has a number of exciting projects under its belt, including producing a clip for the Progress Asia Pacific Convention, conducting an introductory VR class for the Singapore Space and Technology Association (SSTA), and inviting secondary school children to experience VR at Youth Fest 2016.
“We customise our own VR headsets and curate experiences based on the headsets we select for our customers,” he said of his company’s key offerings. He admitted, however, that these features are not USPs or patented technology. “Our strongest response to the market is in content production, though we are moving slowly into more tech-focused offerings, such as sensor detection, location detection and gesture control. This will be a merger of IoT technology and VR.”
Immersively was involved in creating VR experiences to promote the movie "Kong: Skull Island". (Image credit: Immersively)
When asked about challenges that Immersively faces, Lionel says it is the lack of manpower.
“We have to train new hires because there’s no official training in this field here; I had to leave Singapore for two years to do mine,” he shared. “The other challenge is that a lot of traditional content production companies see that VR is hot now and suddenly re-brand themselves by putting up a swanky new website and calling themselves VR companies. But traditional methods would not necessarily work for VR.”
Being new to the industry, Lionel is grateful for any help that comes his way, and is especially appreciative of IMDA Pixel Labs – an innovation space managed by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) to support individuals and companies interested in tech and media. “Besides housing us in the Lab, IMDA is a constant support; getting our name out there by having us exhibit at IoT Asia, for instance, and providing valuable connections. They were the ones who introduced us to SSTA and we have been working with them since last year.”
Overall, Lionel is eager to see the technology – be it VR, AR or IoT – grow.
“I’m not an IoT expert but I’m looking to explore how we can put geographical sensors in our VR headsets for room-scale VR. These sensors can pick up your exact location so when you see a virtual wall through the headset, there actually is a wall there in real life. The training possibilities for this will be great, but it’s still just a vision for now,” he said.