Ken Ehrhart | Founder & CEO | Paracosma Inc.

Augmented reality and Virtual reality are two examples of modern advancements which have revolutionized visual communication. Be it education, communication, healthcare, defence or any other industry all are disrupted by AR and VR to some extent. Despite the wide-ranging expansion of the technology there is still a broad gap of AR/VR expertise in the business arena where organizations are looking for implementation solutions. By considering this as an opportunity and focused on outsourced AR/VR Application Development and 3D Content Creation, Paracosma’s first goal is making augmented and virtual reality as good as reality.

Below are highlights of the interview conducted between Insights Success and Paracosma:

What led to the inception of the company? 

In 2016, when Paracosma was founded, Virtual Reality (VR) was just launching to consumers with the release of the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift VR headsets. Although VR had existed for decades as a concept there were no mature companies offering VR development and very few engineers with VR experience. So, enterprises that wanted to explore the technology could not hire VR developers. We decided to solve the problem by building a talented team of VR experts who could provide services for hire to companies unable to build in-house teams.

This further enabled VR’s growth by allowing enterprises to start small with a low-cost proof of concept (POC) without the need to commit to investing in hiring new engineers or training existing ones. Once they saw the ROI (return on investment) from the POC, our clients could easily justify expansion to an MVP (minimum viable product) or full deployment of a VR solution.

This approach proved to be to be a perfect fit for the nascent VR market. And, we were able to repeat it with the birth of consumer Augmented Reality with the launch of Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore in 2017. We now have numerous ongoing month-to-month client relationships and many multi-year repeat engagements and second phase projects with customers for both VR and AR.

Describe your company and its cutting-edge Virtual Reality services which address all the needs of your customers. 

Paracosma offers AR and VR application development and 3D content creation including both photo-realistic modeling and 360 media production.

Paracosma applications include: VR training for Oil & Gas handling to prevent spills and fires; VR surgery simulation to improve outcomes and save lives; AR machine maintenance to increase efficiency and reduce down time; video holograms for executive management training to pass along company culture and best practices; VR and AR games for brain fitness to maintain health and wellness; digital twins of facilities to visualize IoT data; 3D modeling to replace studio photography saving costs; AR imaging for testing features in product development; teleconferencing displaying live 3D point-cloud video avatars in virtual environments; consumer facing AR & VR for marketing and entertainment; and many more.

Could you throw some light on your mission and vision statement? 

Paracosma’s mission and vision statement reads: Making Augmented and Virtual Reality as good as Reality is not enough. Our Vision is to make Augmented and Virtual Realities better than Reality. Our Mission is to make Reality better through Augmented and Virtual Reality.

The first part Making AR & VR as good as reality is a business goal based on the guiding principle of the “Turing Test” applied to Augmented and Virtual Reality: our goal is the ability to create digital affects and worlds that are ultimately indistinguishable from real world experiences.

Secondly, we strive to do things with AR & VR that are impossible in real life, for example training in hazardous environments or visiting remote or completely make-believe fantasy worlds.

Finally, everything we do is filtered through the goal of using AR & VR to improve the real world, hence Paracosma’s cofounding of the VR for Good Conference and other positive social initiatives.

How are your VR services unique from the other companies’ offerings? 

Because of Paracosma’s large and growing team of 45 artists and 30 engineers and developers, we have skills and experience across a broad range of AR & VR and can maintain innovative R&D in many areas. This allows us to be a “one stop shop” for clients looking for help with their projects. This is in contrast with many smaller AR & VR companies that are resource constrained or limited to a narrow focus.

Give a detailed description of the featured person’s influence over the company and the industry. 

As someone studying technology treads for some 24 years, with 20 years’ experience building companies as a venture capitalist, and with more than 10 years’ experience in international market entry for tech companies; I am focused on building a sustainable global company, with a long-term focus on the future. This is based on my belief that we are entering a new phase of technology advancement. Where previously we transitioned from text-based computing to media rich html websites and from voice communications to video, we are now witnessing the transition from 2D to 3D. This goes well beyond consumer AR&VR to impact all aspects of life from autonomous driving to deep fakes.

Describe in detail about the work culture and the values that drive your company. 

We believe that brilliant and creative people are born into every country and culture. Unfortunately, the potential of those superstars is often missed through a lack of opportunity. We have been able to assemble a world-class team in Kathmandu and provide them opportunities they might not otherwise have in Nepal. This directly benefits our clients by delivering passionate, best-in-class teams to solve their requirements at a fraction of the cost of US-based alternatives.

How is VR technology disrupting the entertainment and gaming industry? 

Of course, there has been massive innovation in VR gaming itself, but some of the most exciting trends are less well known. For example, in the past movie production began with traditional filming, then it might have added a digital element for special effects, then later created marketing materials based on the film, possibly publishing a video game developed entirely independently from the original production. Now, production companies are starting by creating 3D digital sets and entire environments inside VR in 3D game engines. The real-world actors are then added through green-screen techniques effectively reversing the prior process. Finally, since the entire process from beginning to end was created in a game engine, marketing pieces and video game entertainment can flow seamlessly from the original production. We saw this for example with the Disney remake of the Lion King, which was effectively ‘filmed’ in VR.

What technologies are you leveraging to make your services resourceful? 

Our greatest asset is our people. Not just the quality and skills of the team, but the number of experts. This enables us to be generous in adopting new technologies as soon as they are available. Because of our low costs we can stand up a team or an R&D project even when we don’t yet have a client in mind. Thus, we are able to stay current with the fast advance of AR & VR across virtually every platform and device as they are developed and offered commercially.

What are your company’s future aspirations? What strategies are you undertaking to achieve those goals? 

Through delivery of positive results for our clients, we have cultivated a pattern of increasing numbers of repeat projects and multi-phase engagements and increasingly ongoing month-by-month and year-by-year partnerships with our customers. As a result, we entered 2020 with more than 50% of our clients and projects being repeat/ongoing relationships. This is helping us scale our business from what was previously more custom project-based delivery to a focus on longer-term platforms and products that are being develop in partnership with our clients. Ultimately, this lowers costs for us and them while increasing quality resulting in a positive feedback loop that accelerates our growth.

Client’s Statements 

“They do amazing work and the results are breathtaking”

“Having Paracosma’s ability to create stunning looking 3D resources with minimal turnaround time vastly increases our ability to deliver our product” John Burton, CEO of UrsaLeo.

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