Paracosma Inc: Consistently blending Virtual Reality with the real-life environment
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality can make a difference in the way we look at the world. These are the latest advancements in technology that help the user to witness a real-life experience via the digital world. Both these technologies are responsible for amassing exceptional interest in terms of marketing, gaming, brand development, training, remote collaboration and entertainment. Many players have identified the flourishing scope in this domain and have emerged out as the significant service providers.
Business Connect Magazine, in its latest edition, puts forth the story of ‘Paracosma’. The Company is the leading solution provider in the Augmented and Virtual Reality arena, addressing the evolving needs of its diverse clientele. In an exclusive conversation with the Founder and CEO of Paracosma, Ken Ehrhart, we have offered special coverage to various aspects of this business venture.
Business Connect: Please shine some light on the Company profile and Services.
Mr Ehrhart:Founded in 2016, Paracosma is an Augmented and Virtual Reality Solution Provider with 75 employees at offices in the US, Japan and Nepal. Paracosma services include AR and VR application development, 3D modelling and content creation, 360 video production, and project implementation across a broad range of AR & VR platforms.
Applications in these sectors include VR Gaming and AR Marketing/Branding, Surgery Simulation, Holographic Video in AR/VR for Management Training, AR Machine Maintenance, VR training for Oil & Gas Handling, Live Avatars in 3D Environments, 3D Modelling for Photography Replacement, Multi-User Brain Games for AR & VR, White-Label 360 Video Distribution Platform, and Digital Twins for Data Visualization.
Business Connect: What was the prime motivation behind this entrepreneurship?
Mr Ehrhart:I come from a family of entrepreneurs and investors. Both my mother and father founded and ran their own businesses. I had previously founded venture capital firms whose focus was on funding and helping grow technology startups. So, it was a natural thing for me to start a business in early 2016, when we saw the opportunity to meet the need for advanced Augmented and Virtual Reality Services.
At that time, and even more so today, the demand for AR and VR solutions far exceeds the resources of existing corporate IT departments to provide these unique skills.
Business Connect: Please throw some light on your exclusive mission.
Mr Ehrhart: Paracosma’s Mission Statement actually has three parts that each reflect an important aspect of our business and focus. Please let me explain each part.
“Making Augmented and Virtual Reality as good as Reality is not enough”
The goal of Augmented Reality is to seamlessly blend virtual digital items within an actual real environment. Whereas Virtual Reality has the goal of convincing the viewer that the virtual digital environment they are in is actually real. So, in both cases, our ultimate goal is to make our digital creations indistinguishable from real items and environments. We are approaching this goal with services such as photography replacement, where we create high-end digital renderings of 3D objects that are indistinguishable from photographs of those items. Unfortunately, most VR and AR cannot process such high-end models, so the digital objects are less perfect than reality for now. Therefore there is more progress to be made.
Even though some digital objects and environments are not yet as perfect as reality, we are able through virtual digital realities to recreate things that are not possible in real life. We can do surgery training, for example, without risking patients. We can practice oil and gas handling, without risking environmental disaster or the danger of a fire or explosion. In both cases, AR/VR allows us to do things that are not possible ethically or practically in real life, and can in fact save real lives.
Business Connect: What makes you ensure an edge over your peers? Please mention some of your fortes.
Mr Ehrhart: Our strength is our people.
Among our 75 employees are 45 Artists. These Artists include modelling artists, texture artists, shading artists, lighting artists, compositors, riggers, animators, and other specialists. Some are hard-surface modelers, some organic modelers, some creative artists. Through their combined skills and talent, we have the ability to create photo-realistic models of food or furniture, full-scale digital twins of industrial facilities and anything in between.
Similarly, we have teams of developers and engineers dedicated to VR, AR, 360 photos and video, and even music/audio.
Business Connect: What kind of clients do you serve?
Mr Ehrhart: We have large enterprise clients, such as the 38 million member AARP down to small startup companies like UrsaLeo. For AARP we have created more than 40 VR brain training games for their Staying Sharp program, which are part of their Alcove VR application. For UrsaLeo, we create Digital Twins of their clients’ facilities with which they can visualize IoT (Internet of Things) data and alerts. We have also created an AR machine maintenance application for a 100-year old manufacturing company with more than 60 factories; over 2,000 3D models for photography replacement; holographic video executive training for one of the world’s largest HR & Talent Management companies and much more.
Business Connect: Please mention the survival strategies your company adopted while battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Ehrhart: Despite the Coronavirus lockdowns which have affected all our business locations in the US, Japan and Nepal, and severely impacted some of our clients, we celebrated a record quarter and record growth in the second quarter and throughout the first half of 2020.
The global pandemic has forced companies to look for solutions to replace business travel, tradeshows, meetings, events and even day-to-day employee interactions that are not currently possible to do face-to-face. AR and VR enables remote collaborative experiences.
Business Connect: How do you keep up the pace with the changing market trends?
Mr Ehrhart: AR , VR and 3D technology more broadly, are some of the fastest evolving technology sectors. So, our engineers are continually learning and developing new techniques and approaches. Having dedicated teams for each technology and each technology platform and the resources to add new engineers as new platforms emerge gives us the ability to stay abreast of the latest developments.
Business Connect: Please mention some achievements and accolades attained by the company so far?
Mr Ehrhart: Paracosma has been fortunate to be well received within the AR/VR industry. Repeat business is the definitive recognition of the quality we deliver and the faith of our clients.
In addition to being selected by Business Connect as one of the “Most Trusted AR/VR Solution Providers” in both 2019 and 2020, Paracosma has also been recognized as one of the “Most Innovative”, “Most Promising”, “Fastest Growing” and “Best AR/VR Solution Providers”. We have also been recognized as a “Next Generation Tech Disruptor” and one of the “100 Best Companies to Watch for in 2020”, among others.
Business Connect: How are you giving back to society (CSR)?
Mr Ehrhart: CSR is the third part of Paracosma’s Mission: to Make the Real World Better Through AR and VR. In addition to cofounding and supporting the VR for Good Conference and the International VR for Healthcare Association, during the Pandemic, Paracosma has been offering companies and organizations free VR collaboration and meeting venues. We have also been giving away our consumer VR game, Shelter in Place, for in-home entertainment.
Business Connect: Share with us the future prospects of your company.
Mr Ehrhart: Paracosma continues to enjoy record growth, outpacing the wider AR/VR industry. We anticipate this to continue as we expand our US and Japan marketing and sales teams through the end of the year. We are also expanding our client solutions across AR and VR. One of our fastest growth areas continues to be 3D modelling and Digital Twin creation.