As companies grapple with vexing questions related to the future of work during and after a pandemic, it has exceedingly become apparent that relying solely on video-conferencing tools is not a solution, with growing calls by employees to include immersive and inspirational components. In that vein, a number of virtual reality startups, with CG Tech’s The Virtulab as part of this burgeoning wave, seek to up-end traditional remote meeting applications by developing avatar-based virtual reality environments in response to these market demands.
Today, companies are desperately searching for a digital counterpart to circumvent the constraints of the physical world. While Zoom, and similar video conferencing tools, do what they intended to do well, with companies lined up to commit to their use as a solution to flexible remote schedules for the coming years, an ever-growing number of users are complaining about these platform’s major shortcomings, particularly their inability to foster creative engagement.
“Zoom Fatigue” is increasingly escaping users’ lips, and has led some to consider new forms of digital platforms for the post-pandemic age. That’s where CG Tech’s The Virtulab, with their new product Virtuworx, comes in with a fascinating and powerful proposition.
CG Tech is an investment holding company, focused on industrial and event-related services, operating a growing portfolio of companies that provide structural, mechanical and electrical engineering, construction, instrumentation, piping fabrication, event overlay and drone-enabled inspection services across Africa, the Middle East, Europe, the United Kingdom and South East Asia. Its management is composed of heavy-weights from these industries.
Niall Carroll, CG Tech’s chairman, especially brings along considerable expertise. Currently based in London, Carroll has over 25 years experience as a reformist in the financial services and natural resources sector. For over a decade, he held various senior positions at Deutsche Bank South Africa before becoming a founder CEO of Royal Bafokeng Finance (subsequently Royal Bafokeng Holdings), the world’s largest community owned investment holding company. Since 2012, he has been building a portfolio of industrial services businesses, now housed in CG Tech. Without chairman Carroll and CG Tech’s facilitation and funding, “Virtuworx” would not have been possible.
As the pandemic intensified, CG Tech’s team began imagining and developing innovative solutions for their clients. When it came to challenges related to remote work, Carroll, with Jason English, the Chief Ecosystem Officer of CG Tech and Al Laith, a specialist company, particularly, in executing complex projects based in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, as well as Wayne Strydom, Virtulab’s CTO, and the rest of the CG Tech globe-spanning team, decided to tap into lessons from a growing and lucrative virtual reality market with major players such as Virbela, 6connex, Accelevents, whom have managed to disrupt the remote work industry and achieve sizable valuations.
Their strategy has an interesting link with the immensely successful experiences of the video gaming industry. This industry is estimated today to be worth more than $US150 billion, with expectations that it will rise by 9% within five years. Of that amount, around $US 4.5 billion dollars were spent by players on immersive gaming experiences, resulting in more than 171 million VR users world-wide (the numbers jumped a whopping 90% from 2017 to 2018 alone). The allure of VR is reinforced by various studies which found that gamers find VR-gaming around “20 times more interesting than traditional gaming”.
Aware of these trends, CG Tech’s Virtulab team quickly assembled, and within mere months, they designed and built Virtuworx, an immersive spatial VR platform to connect remote teams together through captivating metaverses that incorporate meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions ( MICE ), malleable to the desires and needs of clients.
In Virtuworx, digital avatars can stroll from meeting to meeting, bumping into colleges along the way, or one can go to the auditorium to watch a presentation, or have a moment’s respite during lunch by virtually playing soccer or flying above a city.
The possibilities seem endless, and because the experience feels intensely more immersive, it is more impactful for the users. The potent power of inducing creativity within an engaging experience is the driving force behind Virtuworx’s proposition for businesses, which Zoom and similar tools can never match.
“By creating and hosting these environments, catered to our client’s wishes, we’re helping to transform the remote-work into a far, far more engaging and immersive experience,” said Carroll. “We believe creativity is a powerful force to encourage productivity and profit, and our platform, Virtuworx, provides such an interaction for our clients in ways they haven’t thought possible.”
Convinced of its lucrative prospects, CG Tech recently announced $US 5 million in internal funding to scale up Virtuworx’s remote work features for educational spaces, conference booths, office spaces and meeting rooms to create more creative and inspirational environments.
In addition, the internal funding seeks to bolster the spectra of features within Virtuworx to distinguish itself further from other VR remote work applications because of the focus by the CG Tech team on the “gamification” of its platform, mainly the inclusion of voice capabilities, inspirational and immersive (MICE) capabilities, and crucially, commercializing the platform by reducing its download size, increasing its usability, and reducing its hardware and bandwidth requirements to reach a larger user base.
To prove itself, Virtuworx recently hosted the first virtual reality based TEDxLytteltonWomen event on their platform, late November, showcasing the depth of the platform’s capabilities in creating a digital environment for corporations and employees. The event was a resounding success, and a clear indicator that CG Tech has brought a slice of the future into the here-and-now.