VR / AR
Taking the leap
As we move into a more immersive digital world, many say that it will be the next step for the Internet itself. Emma Ridderstad, founder of AR and VR company Warpin Media, argues it will be our final one.
Interview KONRAD OLSSON Photography KIMBERLY IHRE

Peter Diamandis has said that there’s an Internet-sized business opportunity ­within VR and AR. Do you agree?

— Most definitely. VR is going to be the next step, and maybe the final step for us. Everything you can do online you can do in VR and in AR, so definitely.

How do you define VR and AR?

— Virtual reality, VR, is when you’re putting a headset on and cover your eyes. You’re completely immersed so you change your environment. Augmented reality, AR, is something you can do from your mobile phone, or you can use glasses. You stay in this environment, but you add digital objects to your environment. 

What are some of the most ­obvious examples?

— When we started four years ago, the best example for ar was Pokémon GO. Today, the filters that you use on Snapchat and Instagram, and the shopping experiences where you can see clothes on a model through your phone, are good examples of augmented ­reality. Virtual reality started out with gaming, where you could immerse yourself in the environments.

What does Warpin Media do?

— We focus mostly on education, which is where everything is happening right now. We’re helping companies train their employees faster, more realistically and cost-effectively through virtual reality. We have a platform called Xelevate. In augmented reality, we are creating shopping and art experiences. 

How do the training sessions work?

— We ­customise it for each company. In our VR education for PostNord, the ­Swedish postal service, you can train vehicle control, so that you minimise any mistakes in the real world.

It’s almost like a flight simulation?

— Yes, definitely. A lot of our clients use it for managing stress. You can put on a headset and transport yourself to Höga Kusten up in the North of Sweden, and sit there and meditate with one of Sweden’s greatest researchers within stress. It’s all about moving your body to places and learning. The body doesn’t realise that you’re not actually there. 

”Everything you can do online you can do in VR and in AR, so definitely.”

What do you mean ”the body doesn’t realise”?

— Your mind can know that you’re sitting in a room with a virtual reality headset, but your body doesn’t connect the dots. You can be standing in a room, with a flat surface under your feet, but in the VR you’re standing by a huge drop. A lot of people won’t take a step forward, even though they know that they’re safe. The body will react, ”I’m not doing this.”

Do you think VR will become similar to meeting face to face?

— Yes. In the beginning, we’re going to meet each other as an avatar. Everything that you can do on the Internet today, you’re going to be able to do in VR or in ar, in a more elaborate way.

I think about this all the time. My daughter is 10 years old. When she comes home from school, she logs into Roblox and meets her friends there. It’s not hard for me to envision her coming home, putting on a headset, and running around as her avatar.

— Yeah, that’s where we’re going. I have that positive feeling that people will always want to meet other people. And to be able to have those types of meetings with people all around the world, that could democratise a lot of information and to build relationships on a much deeper level. 

You’ve also done some projects with ­fashion brands.

— Yes. The most exciting one was the launch of the Moschino and H&M collaboration in New York, where people put on a headset, and the collection came alive. 

So much could happen with AR and VR in fashion because it is so visual. It should be used more.

— It’s coming. Within a couple of years, we won’t go to stores in the same way we do today. We will have the total store at our own home, where we can pick out outfits, and see them on ourselves in our living room through AR. The whole shopping experience is going to change because of this. 

The counter-argument is that you can’t feel the texture…

— You are going to. That’s coming also. In the future, we’re going to have gloves, that make you able to feel the garment.

You said that AR and VR could be the last step we have. What do you mean by that?

— If you think about it from a philosophical point of view. How far can we, as humans, develop ourselves and our technology? If we can have this conversation, but be sitting on Mars, what can we do after that? The mixture of virtual and augmented reality is going to stay a long time. It’s Internet 3.0. 

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