The seductive lure of a virtual world 

Tech September 24, 2017 13:46

By ASINA PORNWASIN 
THE NATION

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THAI FIRM EXZY READY TO TAKE ITS VR SPHERE INTO GLOBAL MARKETS 



THAI INNOVATION COMPANY, Exzy has caught the attention of technology aficionados with its virtual touring vehicle, the VR Sphere, at the Digital Thailand Big Bang 2017 conference that ends today in Bangkok.

Lalin Ananbanchachai, co-founder and chief operations officer of Exzy, said that the VR Sphere comes from her passion for the "Jurassic World" movie. The company has spent one and a half years and several million baht to research and develop the VR Sphere.

VR Sphere has just been officially commercialised, with two museums ordering one each. The sphere is the company's latest development, Lalin said, having previously developed interactive software for six years before being seduced by the business potential of virtual-reality technology. 

"In the market, there is room for VR technology, especially the 360-degree VR world, which gives users the 'real virtual world' where they can interact with the virtual world in a way that seems like they are actually in that world, rather than only wearing VR glasses," said Lalin.

Though the first two customers are museums, the VR Sphere has potential application across industries. The company offers VR Sphere in two models. The machine is for sale to customers along with help developing and implementing the VR software, or alternatively for rent with help developing and implementing VR software for events.

The price to buy the VR Sphere is over Bt5 million, excluding development and implementation of VR software, while the price of renting a VR Sphere is over Bt1 million per event excluding VR software development and implementation.

Lalin said the company would target Bt15 million in revenue from VR Sphere this year. Exzy next aims to expand the market for VR Sphere into a virtual-world zone where more than one machine is in operation at a time. She said that the VR Sphere offers potential benefits to the educational experience, where machines could be programmed to fit individual learning needs.

The sphere will be demonstrated at a Japanese exposition next month, with the aim of opening up markets beyond Thailand. "But for the next year, we would like to see large numbers of the VR Sphere deployed in the digital 'zone' or certain areas. Government officials, organisations, and museums are potential customers for this business model concept," said Lalin.

No doubt, the VR Sphere is one of the most interesting technologies being showcased at the Digital Thailand Big Bang 2017 event. It captured the attention of Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, who used it as an example during the opening ceremony. 

The Big Bang conference was packed with technology examples in the four main zones identified as government digital priorities: the digital ecosystem, digital community and the smart city, the digital park and the digital playground.

Among the highlights of the event were competitions, including an eSport gaming competition, a drones competition, and a "rescue robots" competition. 

Another highlight was the first-time presentation of the "PM Digital Awards" by PM Prayut.

Digital Thailand Big Bang 2017 was hosted by the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, through the Digital Economy Promotion Agency and the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission under the theme of Digital Transformation Thailand.