InstaVR Interview w/ Charles Jordan – We discuss how majoring in cognitive science tied into an interest in VR, how to best introduce VR into a large corporation, what hardware advances will most impact the VR space, and much more.
InstaVR Interviews: Meet the VR Practitioners
InstaVR Interviews is a blog series where we turn the spotlight on our customers and other industry leaders. We find out why they create VR, how they use InstaVR, and what the future of VR will look like. To read more interviews, visit the InstaVR Interviews homepage.
Charles Jordan, Digital Innovation Specialist at Nestlé
Charles Jordan currently serves as a Digital Innovation Specialist for Nestlé, with a focus on leveraging virtual reality for training and employee on-boarding.
He is an avid user of all kinds of technology from smart home to 360 video. He’s a self-proclaimed Virtual and Augmented Reality Evangelist, and loves introducing people to new technologies, and leading companies on how to leverage them to meet their business goals.
Digital Innovation Specialist – Augmented and Virtual Reality Evangelist – 360 Videographer
Charles Becomes Interested in VR First Through Video Games and Studying Cognitive Science
Question: How did you first get interested in VR?
I played video games for a long time. Then when I got into college, my major was cognitive science. That deals with artificial intelligence — the brain and how it works. I thought it would be good to look at virtual reality and how it would affect our mind, how we see the future, how we’re going to interact with reality.
At that time, which was 1994, video games were nowhere near what we can play now. It was something that I looked at and found very interesting. It’s just amazing that now 20 years later we finally have commercial VR headsets in the house. It took that long.
Charles Becomes a Day One User of Oculus Rift, Examines Immersive Technology at Nestlé as Part of Their Silicon Valley Innovation Outpost
Question: More recently, how did VR come back into your life? And how did you get it to become a part of your work?
As soon as I saw the Oculus go on sale, I pre-ordered it. I had to have it day one. I began to look at Oculus first as something I could play with, and then I picked up a 360 camera, I started programming with Unity. I started playing with it and seeing really what it could do.
As time went on, that personal passion became something I really looked at using in my work at Nestlé. I thought we could use this, we could leverage this. And then I come to find out Nestlé was thinking the exact same thing.
They’ve started something called the Silicon Valley Innovation Outpost. Where they invited six people across the globe and brought them to Silicon Valley to look at immersive technologies like virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, blockchain. And basically see how we incorporate those into some of our consumer facing products, to enhance them. I spent some time serving as a Digital Innovation Specialist, trying to figure out ways to leverage it.
VR Gives Consumers an Opportunity to Follow the Project Journey, From Farm to their Home
Question: What were your initial thoughts on how immersive technologies could impact a large consumer brand company?
We looked at things like promotions, where consumers could feel like they’re engaging with the product story. Maybe taking a product from farm to the factory to the grocery store, to allow people to see the product journey, and get a full awareness of that.
We’ve also looked at AR technology, like AR packaging. We wanted to see how we could take this to the grocery stores. Some of the barriers we saw were things like VR being isolating, with something put over your face, and AR requiring something to scan. I think mixed reality glasses will probably be the solution, probably 3-4-5 years in the future before that can become standard.
Oculus Go Will Push Things Forward, With Santa Cruz Adding Even More
Question: What’s your take on the current VR hardware market?
We are at the Atari stage, if you will, of Virtual Reality. We’re looking at it and its brand new, it’s really in its infancy. I’m at this moment appreciating the path that Facebook is taking. First they came out with this nice high end system (Oculus Rift), and let us see what it can do. But the current configuration isn’t available to the masses.
I think the Oculus Go is really going to let people experience more than mobile VR, but still not the greatest. But it puts us on this path, because later on comes Santa Cruz, with full headset and controller. It’s going to take the non-PC non-mobile VR forward. I’d say the device after Santa Cruz is when we “get to VR.” The next ten years are going to be an amazing time to be alive.
Employee Onboarding First Use Case for VR, as it’s Easy and Memorable
Question: What are your first use cases for VR?
That’s been the biggest challenge. You have to find a use case initially. You have to find something that you can say, “It’s better to do it this way (with VR), than some other way.” And usually there has to be some cost savings.
The first one for us has been onboarding. It’s very easy to do a tour of your location or an instructional video. Something that needs to be repeated over and over again, but that way they get the same message across the organization, and it’s immersive. It’s done in such a way that it’s memorable, and people actually talk about it.
Other Use Cases Include 360 Tours of New Office Locations, Employee Training
Question: What’s the next couple VR projects you’re working on?
We have a new location we’re moving to. We’re going to create a 360-video tour to give everybody going to that location a tour of it before they get there. And from a security standpoint, we’re going to use photogrammetry. It creates a very detailed image of the environment that we’ve been experimenting with. We haven’t rolled anything out in that regard, but we’re in the process of doing that here in the US.
In other markets and countries, like Australia, we’ve used VR training to roll out to our boutiques. So when we think of Nestlé globally, there have been examples where we’ve used VR training in the wild. But it’s still not something we’ve done globally, it’s something we’ve done in spots.
They paired up with Google in Australia initially and went to the Google facility to do training with the Pixel phones. They had a series of “What happens in a boutique? What happens with the coffee and the brand?” It educated new people as they came on. And then they took that and pushed it out to all Nespresso boutiques, so that now that exact training from Google could be experienced at the boutiques. Initially they used Google headsets, and then just switched it to YouTube for 360 video.
Facebook Spaces is Intriguing for Meetings, GoPro Fusion + Mavic Pro Make for Nice Camera/Drone Combo
Question: Outside of a corporate setting, what are you doing with VR? And what cameras are you using?
I’ve used my Oculus Rift for games. But in terms of practical use cases, I’ve used it for workouts in the morning. There’s an app called Box VR, and it’s a lot like doing Tae Bo. I don’t even have to go to the gym to work up a sweat. It takes about 30 minutes. This is just the beginning… I can only imagine what’s coming after this.
In terms of meetings and communications, there’s VRChat and there’s vTime. We’ve looked at Facebook Spaces. I’ve hosted a few meetings in there. I know some people don’t like it, but for me sharing 360 video, this was the easiest place to take someone on an adventure.
I had a Ricoh Theta. I went ahead and got the GoPro Fusion, which I love. And I picked up a Mavic Pro drone. So I’ve been creating some pretty nice videos.
Prototyping Key to Getting Buy-In, VR Great for Training & HR Particularly
Question: Finally, what advice can you give for someone in a corporate setting trying to get investment and buy-in from other employees?
Prototype, prototype, prototype. You have to show them something. It’s nice to be able say this is what it can do, even if you show metrics such as retention. What I’ve noticed about virtual reality is people think they’ve seen it or they’ve experienced a small mobile video. But when it’s done in a practical way, it can be a very useful tool.
Try to use a 360 camera or a panorama picture, do what you can to prototype, so people can experience it. Whether you put in on YouTube or Facebook, or use something like InstaVR, create something and allow them to see it. Then you can get buy-in.
I would initially approach use cases such as learning & training, HR, and factories, plants or operations. Those are good places to look at.
Thank you to Charles Jordan from Nestlé for providing his insight on VR & 360-degree media in a corporate setting!