WHERE SCIENCE, EXPERIENCE, AND ART MAKES A BETTER REALITY…
Today, VR has become a coherent way to experience Realities that are pretty hard to witness- fleeting or remote, impractical- dangerous or expensive, impossible- past or future. To sum it up in one line- VR enables us to experience things from a varied perspective that is different in terms of identity or scale. In this space, Paracosma has been succeeding with flying colours setting new industry norms. With a solid vision to allow Virtual Realities to be better than reality and make reality better through VR, the company has attained the reputation of one of the most efficient and credible AR/VR platforms.
To dive more into its upcoming offerings, Business Connect sat down for a virtual meet with the Founder and CEO of Paracosma-Ken Ehrhart, where we offered special coverage to different aspects of this business venture.
BUSINESS CONNECT– WHAT DRIVES PARACOSMA TO IMPROVE ITS SERVICE OFFERINGS AND OFFER A BEST-IN-CLASS SERVICE PORTFOLIO TO ITS CLIENTELE?
Ken Ehrhart- As a services business, the customer experience is critical. Paracosma must deliver both the quality and value the customer expects and the service they deserve. In the US, where Paracosma is headquartered, we have a saying that, “the customer is king”. In Japan, where Paracosma has a sales and technology office, the saying would be “the customer is god”. The expectations and requirements for customer service are far higher in Japan than in most places in the world.
We take that to heart throughout our global business, because customer satisfaction is the surest path to sustainable growth for a services company. While in 2018, 37% of our revenue came from repeat clients, that percentage climbed to 88% in 2021. That repeat revenue results from customer satisfaction with the quality and value of our services. Now, in 2022, we are increasingly moving to long-term client contracts for ongoing developer and artist services, rather than recurring projects.
We are extremely honoured to be recognized by Business Connect Magazine as one of the Most Trusted AR/VR Companies for four years in a row because that trust is earned through reliably and repeatedly delivering high-quality, high-value, solutions to our clients.
Business Connect- How would you justify your statement- ‘Making VirtualReality as good as reality is not enough? How are you making a significant change in this direction? Ken Ehrhart- “Making augmented and virtual reality as good as reality” refers to the ideal conditions in which end users cannot tell the difference between a virtual object inserted in the real world through AR, or the difference between a virtual world and the real world. This requires significant processing and graphics capability, but also truly world-class, even best-in-class artists.
One area where we have achieved this is with photorealistic 3D models that are rendered as an image to replace traditional studio photography. We have already generated over 7,500 3D models that are indistinguishable from photographs of the real items. The “is not enough” refers to the fact that we want to achieve more with AR and VR than merely replicating real life, we want to experience things virtually that are difficult, rare, expensive or dangerous and thus cannot be done in real life.
Business Connect- Please throw some light on your content creation strategies.
Ken Ehrhart- To create photorealistic virtual content, we have cultivated and trained some of the best art teams in the business. This is to a large degree through specialization rather than trying to rely on 3D generalists. We have modelling artists, texture artists, shading artists, lighting artists, riggers, animators. And, even within these specializations, we have hard-surface modellers, organic modellers, sculptures, fur experts, etc.
We are also using our art talent to move into virtual production for videos and movies. We are creating virtual scenes and environments that live, real-world actors can be inserted into. These capabilities extend our work on 360-degree and traditional video by blending it with 3D virtual environments.
Business Connect- How will you describe your insights on Technology innovation?
Ken Ehrhart – In all areas of AR/VR innovation is occurring at a very rapid pace. This is necessary because clients’ visions of what they want to do in AR/VR has often never before been done. First, we need to be realistic about whether something is possible. When we determine it is possible, then we have to work hard to implement the solution, whether or not it is already in commercial production or something we are doing for the first time. We have a large team so that we can study and implement innovations as they become available.
Business Connect- If you will have to define your brand in five words, what would be those?
Ken Ehrhart- Highest quality and value AR/VR.
Business Connect – How do you ensure to make the best system integration experience in favour of your customer base?
Ken Ehrhart- Here, too, the size of our team is important. We do not have to concentrate on a single platform but have the scope to learn a the breadth of platforms. Thus, we are able to recommend and implement the right solution for the client, whereas smaller firms might be restricted to fewer, possibly lesser choices.
For example, we have worked with the HoloLens and HoloLens 2, Magic Leap One, Nreal, Jio, and other AR glasses. Because we care most about the long-term success of our clients and their repeat business, we focus first and foremost on the success of their project, not which solution offers us the most immediate benefit, or which one provides a commission.
Business Connect- Define your differentiating factor.
Ken Ehrhart- Because we have a large experienced team, we not only offer a one-stop-shop for all aspects of AR/VR and 360, but we are able to develop deep expertise in specialized areas, allowing us to outperform what a smaller team of generalists might deliver.
Business Connect- How did you build your team?
Ken Ehrhart- With developers, we are hiring the top-ranked graduates of the leading Computer Science universities, then training them in the specific technologies needed in our sector. With artists, we are seeking truly talented artists, who can be trained in the specific software applications used for our work. Skilled developers and talented artists, can learn fast and over time gain the experience needed to excel.
Business Connect- How do you ensure to involve the touch of innovation in your offerings?
Ken Ehrhart- With AR/VR advancing so quickly as a sector, we would be falling behind if we did not continually adopt the latest innovations and also innovate ourselves. Initially, we had to innovate because clients imagined AR/ VR to be more advanced than it was.
So, we had to invent new methods of achieving their visions. Then we transitioned from PC-based to standalone VR systems, which required a lot more optimization to reach the same results. Now, as use cases continue to expand, especially with interactive virtual worlds, we need to scale the numbers of simultaneous users in experiences. These are just some examples of natural evolutions of the industry, but as developers, we need to manage and ideally accelerate these developments for the benefit of our clients.
Business Connect- What are the exclusive features that make your Interactive VR stand out from the market?
Ken Ehrhart- In many ways, Paracosma tries to avoid standing out. We usually operate behind the scenes and are invisible to the market. Our goal is to help our clients stand out. In many ways, this makes our job easier. The client brings their domain expertise, supplies their competitive advantage, leverages their marketing and sales. We provide the teams to execute their development roadmap. Our goal is to deliver the highest quality, on time, at the best value.
Compared to other developers, we have an exclusive focus on AR/VR and 3D; we have deep expertise across broad segments; and a flexible delivery model from project-based to providing entire teams of developers integrated into the clients’ organizations.
Business Connect- What are the 360-degree media services you have proposed your clientele with? Ken Ehrhart- The market segment of 360-degree media, has been incredibly frustrating because it remains immature and underutilized. For many categories, from travel to nature to family events, no media is better at capturing the full experience of being present in a place or at an event than 360 photos and videos. But, after you capture the video clips, they
Business Connect- Where do you envision your brand in the next 10 years?
Ken Ehrhart- Over the next 10 years, we expect to see the maturing of AR/VR technology and platforms. What is difficult and specialized now, should increasingly become easier and routine. This will happen simply through the increase in the processing and graphics capability of the hardware. This defines the challenge for our own business. Right now, we specialize in providing the experience and expertise of highly skilled developers and extremely talented artists.
We are focused on recruiting, training, and deploying those experts at scale. What will increasingly be important is giving those engineers and artists superpowers through the adoption of technology that improves their efficiency, improves the quality of their work, and lowers costs for our clients. From there, we need to disrupt our own human experts with AI systems that learn from and are supplemented with our experts. With these transitions, we intend to continually drive up quality and drive down costs.
Business Connect- Share some words of wisdom that you would like to convey to the aspiring entrepreneurs and the readers of our Magazine.
Ken Ehrhart- Focus on the future. Don’t look at the opportunities of today. Chances are there are already a lot of engineers and businesses focused on today’s problems. Image those are already solved, what will be the next challenge, the next opportunity, the next market, after current needs are filled.
For example, Netflix began by challenging Blockbuster videos with DVDs sent through the mail. Their main competitive advantage was no late fees. Today, they are the dominant video movie streaming platform, even though, when they started, you could not stream a movie without huge buffering issues.
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