Open the Black Box: Making virtual reality transparent

Anyone who has ever worked with Virtual Reality (VR) products knows that even the smallest change to the project requires programming knowledge. It makes no difference whether only the color of an object is to be changed or entire scenarios are to be moved: Cooperation with the developers or the respective VR studio is indispensable.

But what if you could change the color of objects yourself or swap the order of scenarios? What if you could simply copy objects and paste them somewhere else? What if you had the individual objects at hand and could build scenarios yourself?

This sounds like a dream that cannot be realized without deep programming knowledge. But the startup Varwin has made it its business to make this dream come true. In an interview with 5-HT, Kate Bakhova reveals how the startup wants to change the VR scene.

Kate Bakhova

VR not as a black box, but as a puzzle.

“Varwin develops VR products from the beginning: That means we group objects together to create scenarios. From this we then develop entire projects,” explains Kate Bakhova, Head of International Sales at Varwin. “We do not deliver our solution as a black box that customers can use but not change. Instead, we provide the solution on our platform. The advantage is that customers can see all the individual objects and sceneries on the platform, reuse them and above all change them independently. No special programming skills are required by the customers”.

This is also the advantage over conventional VR studios, which offer satisfactory VR solutions – but with which the customer cannot continue working independently. Even for the smallest changes it usually needs the help of the VR-Studio.

“We like to call our platform ‘WordPress for VR’,” says Kate with a laugh, “Our platform offers puzzles with the company’s own logic, which companies can then assemble in all imaginable ways. This results in completely individual VR solutions”.

1 VR product. 0 Programming knowledge required.

Varwin offers potential customers three versions of its software. The first version, the so-called Free Edition, is even available for free on the Varwin website. Kate explains: “The possibilities of our Free Edition are naturally limited. It’s good for starting small VR projects, trying a little bit and of course testing our software”.

With the Professional Edition there are no more limits for creating VR products. With this version customers can build VR products and forward the finished parts.

Only the Server Edition offers even more possibilities, where the VR products are stored on an external server. “This version is especially suitable for companies that operate worldwide and work as distributed development companies. With the Server Edition, several people can work on a VR product simultaneously and from anywhere in the world. This of course makes the whole process much faster and easier,” explains Kate. In addition to the desired VR product, Varwin also sells the platform separately as software. This allows the company’s own development process to be accelerated.

Potential for Chemistry and Health Care.

“With Varwin, we have never focused on specific industries. Nevertheless, most of our customers have so far come from areas with easily scalable data, for example logistics. This is because up to now we have assumed that customer inquiries have always come from these areas. But we want to expand our customer base and develop further,” reveals Kate. “In the chemical industry, VR can achieve a great deal. And health care and medicine also have great potential for VR projects.”

For health care, medicine and chemistry, however, VR alone is not of interest, but above all the unique possibilities that Varwin offers.

“In the health care sector it is very important to be able to make changes quickly. For example, clinics must be able to adjust the status of a patient very quickly. So far, this can only be done by the developers. And that takes time,” explains Kate, “Also, there is no shared platform yet. So far, every clinic has been doing its VR projects in a different way. With Varwin, they can exchange the individual objects with each other.”

Create the Wow effect with VR.

“By the way, the VR objects are not a collection of codes,” reveals Kate. “On our platform, the objects are presented to the customer in the way they will later look, i.e. as small pictures. There is also a library with all VR objects that are part of the VR project. This allows customers to easily create scenarios themselves,” explains Kate.

In the health care sector alone, there are therefore numerous opportunities for companies with Varwin: from various medical training and rehabilitation, psychotherapy and the management of anxiety to soft skills training, for example in patient consultations, Varwin offers a wide range of applications. But also less specific VR projects are conceivable with Varwin, for example human safety training, instructions for repairs or the like and even for marketing or demonstration purposes, for example to illustrate how your own technologies will work in the future.

“With Varwin, companies have the opportunity to change the language or the training sequence themselves, to rehearse risk situations without much effort or high costs, or even to create the big wow-effect when presenting their own equipment with VR,” explains Kate, “So we have the right technology for these areas. The only thing we’re still missing are use cases – in other words, customers.” Therefore, the startup has also turned to 5-HT.

Transparent and easy VR.

Varwin has been working as a VR studio for quite some time, until in spring 2019 it released the platform that allows customers to make changes to VR products themselves. This clearly distinguishes Varwin from other companies in this area.

“During our work we have made the experience that the VR process is usually very expensive and above all very non-transparent. For many customers VR was too cumbersome because they needed a developer even for the smallest changes. There was no solution for this problem on the market at the time,” says Kate. That’s how the idea of a transparent, low-cost platform was born, enabling customers to work on their own projects.

So far, Varwin is mainly active in the USA, where VR is also a more widespread topic than in Germany. All of Varwin’s 30 employees have more than five years of experience in the IT sector. Kate also comes from this area and has only been with Varwin for half a year. But when talking to her, you can clearly see that she is passionate about ‘transparent and simple VR’. Varwin is also not lacking in goals for the future.

The Varwin Team

“Currently we only support the Unity Engine, but we would like to support Unreal in the future. We also want to work with Augmented Reality (AR) in the future,” says Kate. “But before we get into these goals, we want to win customers in Europe and establish ourselves on the German market.

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