See the original story in Japanese.
Tokyo-based Dverse, the Japanese startup focused on developing virtual reality (VR) authoring tools, this Tuesday unveiled its VR browser for construction / civil engineering use, named Symmetry Alpha. One can download the browser from the game software distribution platform Steam. The browser was developed based on Unity platform and is currently available for Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. In the future, it will support other platforms such as Oculus Rift, Android Daydream, Samsung Gear or Microsoft HoloLens.
It is not easy to express its excellence in words, as with every new VR solution, and yet Symmetry shows an outstanding vision for enabling users to experience a feel of being teleported into the VR world just by importing CAD (computer-aided design) data in SketchUp files. Although there have been other systems that create perspective drawing from CAD data, and in fact design offices or architects have often used them in order to explain design plans to their clients. However, there is a limit for perspective drawing to express 3D data in 2D images, as well as the problem of the blind spots. Symmetry enables users not only to check the outer appearance but also to virtually be positioned inside the object and to obtain a panoramic view.
Since launched back in October of 2014, Dverse had fundraised an undisclosed amount from BonAngels Venture Partners and Villing Venture Partners in July of 2015, followed by $104 million from 500 Startups Japan, Colopl VR Fund, KLab Venture Partners, Adways (TSE:2489), Willgroup (TSE:6089), and Slogan, in addition to angel investor Shogo Kawada, in June of 2016. According to Dverse CEO Shogo Numakura, the firm had conducted contract-planning and development of VR software for operational training use as commissioned by major enterprises, but have been focusing on development of Symmetry since around last January.
This day’s launch is a St. Valentine’s Day present to the world. The support languages are not especially limited to VR, so that it can become a solution without language barriers.
Numakura comments on the firm’s view:
I considered using the same approach as Adobe did for Acrobat; we first offered users the use of our browser for free and let them recognize the usefulness of VR in business. We plan to launch an editor (authoring) tool as a premium service during the third quarter. I expect that VR for business use will go into full swing within a few years.
Numakura also said that it is not easy for VR startups to raise funds or to seek new markets domestically only and that he considers overseas development of Dverse as a solution to these problems. The firm plans to establish local offices in Silicon Beach LA (tech startup community based on from Santa Monica to Venice Beach) in the U.S. and in Shoreditch (the up-north area of London’s Tech City) in the UK within the year, as well as one in China, which is showing great performance by VR startups with an eye to the future.
Although the firm does not plan an exhibition at SXSW (South by Southwest), Numakura told us that his company intends to introduce the browser through participation in various startup events or VR-related conferences which will be held within and outside Japan from this Spring.
How can Dverse change the global construction and civil engineering fields? It behooves a close look at their activities.
Translated by Taijiro Takeda
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy