Zuo Modern, an Oakland-based furniture & lighting company, used InstaVR to create a “virtual catalog” that they showcased recently at trade shows in Las Vegas and Atlanta. Attendee response to the virtual experience was enthusiastic, as they viewed 360 showroom tours on oversized tablets.
InstaVR Interviews: Meet the VR Practitioners
InstaVR Interviews is a blog series where we turn the spotlight on our customers. 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.
Zuo Modern — IT & Design Team
Established in 2005, Zuo Modern is an international brand with offices across the globe serving the retail, hospitality, restaurant and design industry. They successfully collaborate with their over 200 employees and celebrate each milestone with everyone who works with them. Zuo Modern is family and they view each customer as part of the family.
With an eye on high-design and fashion, their upbeat, modern collection has evolved into a lifestyle brand that includes inspired furniture for every room in your home, as well as a gorgeous collection of outdoor furniture, lighting, mirrors and décor. The overall aesthetic is pure in form and includes an eclectic mix of mid-century modern, contemporary, and industrial chic – perfect for the modern home, urban loft, or office space.
The Zuo IT & Design Team Envisions a “Virtual Catalog”, Available in Both Web & VR Versions
Question: Why did you decide to create VR at Zuo? What was the goal?
Last year we started playing around with 360 images of our traditional lifestyles we use for our catalogs, we realized the quality of the images was really good and we started looking for a way to share them with our customers as a new way to create a “virtual catalog.” We were not sure if VR would be a good idea because not everyone has a VR Headset and we also weren’t sure if we could invest on some smartphones and VR headsets to show this project in our showrooms, so we looked for a platform that could do both, VR and a web version.
The goal was to show our customers that we were ready for VR, providing those 360 images so they can use them into their own VR platforms or mimic our virtual catalog.
Images Designed Using Autodesk 3Ds Max & Adobe Photoshop
Question: How did you create such hi-res 360 panos?
Our 360 images are all created with 3Ds Max and Photoshop, using the 3D Models we have of our items we were able to create High quality 360 lifestyle images.
Image courtesy of Zuo
InstaVR Helps Make Virtual Catalog a Reality
Question: How did you learn about InstaVR?
We spent a couple of weeks looking for VR/360 hosting platforms on google, we found some platforms to host and show 360 images because that was our first idea, but InstaVR was a more complete platform, and when we saw what we could achieve with this platform we started thinking about our Virtual Catalog.
Zuo Builds VR Experience Using InstaVR’s Navigation Links and Adds Virtual “Price Tags” That Open to Product Pages
Question: Which of the features in InstaVR do you find yourself using the most?
We used Navigation links to create a small menu on the floor of the 360 rooms so the user could move between rooms or go back to the first room, we used web-page links to put “price tags” on our items so if the user would like to know more about the item he just needs to click/touch the tag to go to the item page in our website, there the user is able to see full specs, pictures and if the user has an account with us price and inventory will also be available. I think it’s important to mention that the option to use PNG’s images with transparency is great and definitely helped us with the design of the experience.
Casual Living Selects Zuo Modern’s 3D Showroom Technology as a Top Pick at the Atlanta International Gift and Home Furnishings Market
Most of Time Spent in InstaVR is Testing, Improving Designs
Question: Can you talk about the InstaVR authoring process? Did you find it fairly easy?
I understood how to use the platform probably in a couple of hours, from there I spent a couple of weeks asking questions to your support team over the live chat, things like best way to use navigation links, web-page links, see heatmap, etc. Also we did tests with different colors and designs for the tags and buttons so I would say we spent more time improving our original design but I can say that in less than a week we had the project 90% complete. I was the person in charge of this project and I’m the one who used the platform the whole time, with a background on IT and web developer I can say it was very simple to use but a better “How to?” section or more documentation would be great.
Publishing to Web for Wide Distribution (Social Media, Blogs, etc), and to .APK for Tradeshow Display
Question: What platforms have you packaged to so far?
We created two packages of the project, a Web version to share the 360 Experience with all our customers, we tested the project in different browsers and mobiles and it works great so we created the link www.zuomod.com/360 with a link to the project, then we share this link in social media, e-blast, home page of our website, blog, press release, etc. To show the 360 Experience in our tradeshows we decided to create an Android Package to install the experience in our Samsung Galaxy View tablets and avoid problems with the internet connection on the road.
Display on 18.4″ Android Tablets Garners Tradeshow Attendees’ Notice, Praise
Question: Can you talk a bit more about how you packaged the VR for tablets?
Because of the way the showroom works, it’s complicated to ask visitors to put on a headset and spend more than 10 minutes playing with it. Instead of the VR headsets we used 4 “Samsung Galaxy View Tablets.” It’s a 18.4” Android tablet, so I created a Package for Android and Installed the App in every tablet to avoid problems with the internet connection. The 360 rooms look amazing in those tablets, when you have the tablets in a bar table it just catch the attention a lot, that’s how we displayed this on the shows.
Zuo’s Sales Reps Excited to Use New Technology, Customers Already Asking for the 360 Images to Use in Their Showrooms
Question: What was the reaction to your VR experiences from your sales team and from the tradeshow attendees?
Our team is excited to see that we are working on these new technologies, our sales reps used this 360 experience as a marketing tool with our customers to show them that we are a company that cares about new technologies and we are investing in new ways to produce media for them in order to help them to advertise and sell our products. I would say that was the real success of our project, when we showed this to our customers they were really impressed, some of them are already working on similar projects so they asked for the 360 images and asked how to get specific items on those 360 rooms, others asked us how could they have something like this in their stores or showrooms and we shared the info of your platform with them.
Future Projects Include More 360-degree Experiences for Big Launches, Possibly Adding Image-Based Hotspots to Provide More Info
Question: What other VR projects are you considering building going forward?
For now we are thinking to release a new 360 Experience with every big new launch of items, we love how our 360 rooms look on VR but at least the furniture industry is not ready for this on the tradeshows, we will continue our tests with VR, so far our problem is with the web-page links, if you are using a VR headset and you point to the “Price tags” of the item the app sends you to our website which is not VR ready so we need to find another way to provide more info of the item, maybe with a bullet card image but as I said, we’ll continue testing so we can provide a great experience like this one to all our customers.
Special thank you to the IT & Design Team at Zuo Modern for sharing their InstaVR experience and VR insights. To read more about their 360 and 3D modelling initiatives, visit their blog post introducing the technology to customers: https://zuomod.com/index.php?route=simple_blog/article/view&simple_blog_article_id=45