I’ve been contacted by Hardik, an Indian guy that is working on a software to do presentations in VR, that asked me to review his project. He added that we’re buddy AR/VR-preneurs, so he convinced me to write this article :). At Immotionar, getting little visibility for our Hit Motion game was very hard, so I know the pain he’s living…
Hardik works in a company called SMIS and they’re making a product called PPT-VR. The name makes immediately clear what they want to do: presentations in VR. With “presentation” I don’t mean a presentation in a Powerpoint sense, but more in a 360-VR sense. In these last months lots of startups are popping out, promising the ability to create easily VR virtual tours where the user navigates from one 360-photos to the other, with the ability to see some info about some points of interests. So, for example, you can make a virtual tour of Spain, seeing first a 360 photos of Madrid, then one of Barcellona, then one of Valencia… and so on. In the Barcellona photo you could find yourself in front of the Sagrada Familia and when you look at it, you can see some infos about the church popping out, explaining you that this is a monument designed by Gaudì, for example. So, programs that let you create this virtual tools just dragging and dropping some photos, without writing code, are coming out to the market. There is a good request of this kind of tools, since 360-photos and videos are used a lot for marketing and similar stuff.
SMIS has made exactly this. It’s the first time I try a tool of this kind, so it has been interesting. You can visit PPT-VR website and have a look by yourself: you login using Google or Facebook (mmmh… I prefer the old and dirty e-mail login) and hence you’re in, a pop-up gives you a little tutorial about the available commands. Let me stop one moment to highlight one thing that I appreciated a lot about this project: it works completely inside your browser. You make the design inside your browser, you preview inside your browser, you live your content inside your browser. No need to install anything if you don’t want to. Awesome.
Anyway, once you’re in, you just start composing the virtual tour in an easy way. You can create different places (meaning different 360-photos) and in each place you can add points of interests inside the spherical dome. These points of interest can be a text that gets shown when the user looks at it; a fixed 2D image; a 2D video; a button (that triggers something, like going to the next scene). Process of adding elements is very simple: you just add your personal multimedia assets to a library, then press the “+” icon and select the item to insert inside your scene from your library. With mouse you drag everything in the right position and that’s it. You just start making different scenes and then in every scene adding points of interests and one trigger to navigate from one scene to the other.
Then you can preview your creation inside the browser and even share your presentation through a simple link. People receiving that link can open it and try the presentation simply inside their browser, without logging in! And clicking on a handy Cardboard icon, the screen splits in two and lets your users see the presentation in VR inside their Cardboard headset! The sharing mechanic is very effective, loved it.
If you prefer having an app, you can also download the APK of the presentation and use it on your phone.
If you’re the creator of the presentation, you can see at every time the heatmap of your project, meaning what points of interest your users have looked at the most. This is very important for marketing applications.
There’s also a showcase of presentations made by others, if you want to see what other people are creating.
So, this is a nice idea, with some nice features like ease of use and sharing.
But it’s not Christmas and I’m a super-evil person :D, so it’s time to say also some bad things about PPT-VR! The bad is that it is still an incomplete project… it’s just a beta. So:
- UX has to be improved;
- Some bugs are present
- APK saving didn’t work for me
- Tutorial initial screen has different icons from the actual ones
- Some backgrounds are very heavy and needs lots of seconds to load
- Whatever video you try adding, only the same video of Singapore continues to show. You end up having only beautiful presentations of Singapore 😀
- The sample backgrounds have a terrible resolution and you can clearly spot the seal of the spherical texture
- Everything works only in Google Chrome. As a Firefox user, I disapprove;
- It lacks lots of features (Youtube integration; show/hide of images; addition of sounds/soundtracks)
- The public showcase is full of spam projects
In the end my final judgment is that this is a nice prototype, or MVP as we startupper love to say. It has potential, but needs some time to reach the status of other big competitors like InstaVR.