Paracosma: Enhancing Business Experience with AR/VR
AR/VR is one of those technological innovations that have the potential to rewrite our perspective of the world. AR/VR is quickly establishing its foothold in the business sector, and for good reason. All of technology is now transitioning from 2D to 3D computing, with 3D models and digital twins allowing computers to better understand and interact with the real world.
In this exciting new field, Paracosma has set itself as a pioneer and trailblazer. In an interview with Ken Ehrhart, Founder and CEO, Business Connect Magazine dives into the story of Paracosma Inc.
BCM: What are Paracosma’s newage 3D Modeling techniques?
Mr Ehrhart: Paracosma is known for its expertise in creating photorealistic 3D models. These are realistic enough to be used to replace studio photography with rendered images of 3D models and scenes. The images are used for ecommerce, and also for Virtual Movie Production, where parts of videos are replaced by digital scenes and objects. The gold standard for photorealistic models has been bespoke models created manually by a team of artists, each expert in different types of modeling, and textures, shading and lighting.
We are now using our seven years of experience from 70+ artists creating over 10,000 photorealistic models to train AI (artificial intelligence) systems to assist the artists and increase efficiency. This is not to replace artistic talent, but to reduce repetitive or menial tasks, enhancing productivity.
BCM: Please provide a detailed explanation of your innovative AR/VR development techniques?
Mr Ehrhart: Similar to applying AI as a tool to assist artists, we are applying technology tools to assist our developers. Code libraries, software development kits, modular development and automated testing can reduce repetitive tasks and improve consistency and quality. This allows our developers to apply their talents to innovation and solving the most unique and challenging issues, rather than focusing on the mundane.
BCM: How does your organization make a difference to the HR/HCM corporations?
Mr Ehrhart: I have been working in the HR/HCM and Talent Management area for over 15 years and Jim Lorentz, our CRO (Chief Revenue Office), has run Learning Management companies. So, we bring a lot of experience to bear in applying AR and VR in this area. The opportunities really span across the entire employee journey throughout their career.
We are working with career counselors at community colleges to provide students a chance to explore career areas and jobs in virtual environments. In recruiting, immersive company tours can give prospective employees a clearer view of what type of company they may be joining. Virtual onboarding can then give the new hire an opportunity to meet virtually with the founders and executives of the company to immerse themselves in company culture and history.
We have been developing both AR and VR systems to enable training of new employees, provide mid-career skills enhancements and even deliver instant support for field service personnel to guide them through help with an immediate task. This training can not only be in precise physical tasks, where known optimal procedures can be embedded into muscle memory; but also for AI-based softskills training that is more about judgment and responding to fluid situations. For knowledge workers, our tools provide the opportunity for real-time global collaboration as if they were meeting together in person.
BCM: Do you see yourself as a technology leader? Or do you wait for the competitors to make the first move and later outperform them?
Mr Ehrhart: Because AR and VR are so relatively new, we are simultaneously inventing new methods and quickly embracing best practices being discovered across the industry. We don’t have the luxury to wait for others to develop solutions when our clients have an immediate need. This continual innovation and adoption is what keeps our work interesting and advancing quickly to better and better solutions for our clients.
BCM: What are your views on the roadblocks to the adoption of AR/VR across different industries? How is Paracosma making a difference in this direction?
Mr Ehrhart: Since the launch of consumer VR in 2016 and AR in 2017, the two main obstacles have been complex, difficult to use technologies and cost. In addition to the complexity and cost of the hardware systems themselves, there has been complexity and cost to develop the software and experiences that enterprises need to take advantage of AR/VR. Paracosma was, in fact, founded to address that problem by easily solving our clients’ development challenges through affordable investment that delivers a fast ROI (return on investment). Consequently, we are helping our clients move quickly from early prototypes and MVP (Minimum Viable Products) through to full deployments and adoption.
BCM: What AR initiatives help your organization stay ahead of the curve?
Mr Ehrhart: Our teams of artists have been building the 3D models and digital twins that serve as the foundation for AR/VR experiences and training. But, producing a 3D model that is a photorealistic digital twin of a real object
is not enough.
We have also been developing model libraries and training systems to share those models as well as exploded views, cut-away views, annotations and animations to supplement the models and provide an entire training platform. This is the type of development that transitions our clients from just seeing the potential of AR/VR to capturing the value of AR/VR with a quick ROI.
BCM: How do you evaluate the impact scale of your brand?
Mr Ehrhart: Paracosma is focused on supporting our clients and delivering solutions, rather than touting our role. And, most of our enterprise clients are under “no name” NDAs (nondisclosure agreements). Thus, Paracosma often flies under the radar. But, the satisfaction of our clients leads to strong word-of-mouth endorsements and recommendations that continue to drive our growth. Our brand grows stronger with each successful client project.
BCM: Please provide us with the leadership insights of the key officials.
Mr Ehrhart: As the world has whipsawed through the pandemic, supply chain issues, war, inflation, and economic uncertainty, it is necessary to keep focused on the long-term vision of where our company and industry need to be. Maintaining that future vision is the only way to navigate a path forward that consistently moves us in the right direction.
BCM: Kindly give a brief of your cultural principles.
Mr Ehrhart: In a fast-changing field like AR/VR, it is critical to maintain a culture of curiosity and continual learning. We cannot get set in our ways or we won’t be ready to embrace or discover the innovations propelling us forward.
BCM: How do you maintain a focused and enthusiastic workforce?
Mr Ehrhart: After freezing terminations, hiring and salary raises during the pandemic, we have now aggressively returned to performance-based evaluations and advancement. This has rejuvenated a focus on individual employee productivity, skill development and opportunities for advancement, that let the best of the best shine through. Motivating the best employees is more important than maintaining the status quo.
BCM: What are the future endeavors of Paracosma?
Mr Ehrhart: Over our first seven years, we have built partnerships around the world with companies that share our vision of future AR/VR opportunities. We are now exploring how we can deepen those ties through tighter collaboration, integration and potential mergers.
BCM: What advice would you like to give to the readers of Business Connect Magazine?
Mr Ehrhart: Embrace the future, it is coming. The timing may be uncertain, but it is inevitable.
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