It’s impossible to ignore the hype surrounding virtual reality (VR). From Facebook buying Oculus Rift for a colossal US$2 billion, Google-backed Magic Leap rumored to be raising up to US$1 billion, as well as theme parks embracing VR, it’s clear the technology has, to put it mildly, a vibrant future. VR’s less-illustrious predecessor, Augmented Reality, may not have taken off the way some analysts predicted, but VR is sleeker, smoother, and sexier. After all, what’s not to love about tech that embraces both the physical and digital worlds?
Of course, as VR devices gain mass-market acceptance, there’s going to be demand for content. The possibilities are endless – this is a brand new arena for developers and publishers, unlike anything we’ve seen before. The best part is that there’s currently no single operating system or marketplace which has a monopoly over the tech. The likes of Oculus Rift, Magic Leap, and Google Cardboard are all working in silos and aren’t unified on a single platform – akin to Android or iOS.
That’s the opportunity WakingApp hopes to tap into. The Israel-based startup, which recently secured US$4.3 million in series C funding, is set to launch a software which will help anyone create AR and VR content without writing even a single line of code. The content will be live within seconds of publishing, and transferable to all major platforms in use today.
“For mobile apps, generally, you need to get a developer, and build separate apps for iOS and Android, and then wait for approval,” says Alon Melchner, founder and president of WakingApp. “It takes a lot of time and you have to be experienced. What we’ve successfully done is that you can create unlimited types of content, such as games, without learning how to code.”
WakingApp is a desktop application, for both PC and Mac, which you can download and then tweak to your fancy. It works in a similar way as popular software like Flash, Powerpoint, or Photoshop. In the application you can upload files from your computer, such as audio files, or video objects, and play around with the embedded tools to create a VR experience of your fancy.
“It takes out all the headaches from technology. You can be a graphic designer and upload it using drag and drop, save it, and it’s all online immediately. This is like the greatest thing about it,” says Alon.
Inspired by family
Alon is also an experienced digital marketer. He started his own digital agency in 1996, when online marketing was still in its infancy. After several years dabbling in online strategy, his pivot towards building immersive technology came from a burning desire to entertain his son.
“I wanted to write books for my new son, so I created a real, physical book for kids with pictures and stories,” outlines Alon. “But, as a marketer, someone who understands the space, I wanted to make the book more unique and engaging. This was around four years ago.”
So Alon hired two developers and the team started to code AR solutions. They created several books and games for kids to enjoy both the digital and physical worlds. The startup eventually grew to a point where the founders understood their proprietary tech could be used in other applications as well.
WakingApp’s latest round of funding will be used to scale its new app. The software is free to download, use, and curate content. Monetization will come at a later stage, and will revolve around built-in advertisements as well as in-app purchases.
“We want everyone to create content. The exciting thing about it is that I can create ten books per year, but millions of people can create billions of pieces of content per year. The possibilities are endless,” adds Alon.
The entrepreneur is confident about the future of his startup. He outlines the fact that each VR company has its own marketplace for content, and developers need to spend several months learning the parameters of each different marketplace if they wish to develop applications for it. WakingApp solves this problem. Most devices, including Oculus and Cardboard are supported, with others to be added soon.
“What we’re trying to say is that developers are not needed. They don’t know themselves how to create nice animations, or good-looking things. That’s a job for artists. Give artists the tools to create the same results as developers.”
WakingApp is primarily B2B but Alon says they already have 1,000 users signed up for their beta platform. Public launch will happen at the latest by January next year, when he expects a frenzy of users to sign up.
“What we want to achieve is an understanding of all the glasses and wearable devices, help companies understand that this platform is a way for more sales, make VR enter the market faster,” says Alon.
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