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The real money in virtual reality

Sanjiv Purushotham/Dubai
Filed on March 13, 2017
The real money in virtual reality

(Supplied photo)

HI-TRAC: The author's shorthand for Happiness Index, Infrastructure, Talent, Regulations, Access and Capital. The six pillars that make UAE a great place for a startup. This week, the focus is on Talent and Access. Talent because the UAE continues to attract talent from countries around the world and Access because these initiatives create opportunities for Emiratis and Emirates based companies to penetrate markets from where the talent originates.

In February 2016, Goldman Sachs published a report 'The Real Deal With Virtual And Augmented Reality, Heather Bellini' that indicated the estimated market for Virtual and Augmented Reality to be in the region of $80 billions in 2025, roughly the size of the PC market today. That was before Pokemon Go. An earlier fastcompany.com was even more upbeat, indicating that investments in the AR and Virtual Reality (VR) space will exceed $150 billion as early as 2020.

On Nov 18, 2016 businessinsider.com stated that the investments in AR and VR have grown 270 per cent versus 2015. In general, there is broad agreement across industry sources that 2017 will be a watershed year for VR. It is the year that many predict will see the emergence of a killer app that will set the story for the industry. Just as Pokemon go was the watershed moment in 2016 for AR.

Typically, VR is an impressive experience. Based on purpose-built headsets that delivers a surround visual and audio experience, closely mimicking the real world. AR on the other hand adds to the real world, not separating from it. Think Google Glass. Pokemon Go does not even need an additional piece of hardware but instead uses the phone for a mash-up of the real and virtual world.

The column features company that is firmly building its credentials in VR applications and content. The Business Insider report quoted expects 50 million plus headsets to be shipped in 2022. Facebook has bought Oculus for a reported $2 billion. Google has invested $542 million in Magic Leap, an AR company. The results of these investments will start playing out over the next couple of years. For example, now both YouTube and Facebook host VR content.

As per the Vanity Fair article quoted, Zuckerberg believes that the goldmine is using technologies developed out of VR to allow human beings to communicate via thoughts.

Khaled Zaatarah, CEO and founder of 360VUZ (www.360VUZ.com) understands VR and what it can do. Of Palestinian descent, he was turned away from the land of his origin at the border. At that moment, he knew what he wanted. If he couldn't see Palestine physically, he would do it virtually. In the process, he would enable himself and millions of people like him to visit places that they physically cannot.

Zaatarah had joined Procter and Gamble after being recruited on campus at the American University of Sharjah. His natural drive, energy and competitiveness saw him win big at work. As brand operations leader for luxury and premium brands, his work was glamourous and fulfilling, working to grow and manage the success of brands like Dolce and Gabbana, Gucci and Hugo Boss. The stability, security and income of a corporate job was massively attractive.

While kayaking in high wind and waves conditions near the Palm Jumeirah, another incident helped propel him on the path to his goal. He was sitting in the last seat of his Kayak as it was the most comfortable padded place of a three-seater kayak. He was unable to steer to safety. Out at sea, with no hope and a fading mobile signal, he made the jump to the very uncomfortable front seat mid-sea to turn the situation around. That moment was a turning point in his life as that simple jump made him stop drifting out and going with the flow. He realised that to lead with your life you need to do the jump, take the most uncomfortable seat, stay in the lead and not drift with the flow.

Zataarah quit his job immediately to lead from the front. 360VUZ was born. Zaatarah only wanted the best people to be in his team. The right talent was attracted by his passion, his constant energy and willingness to start from scratch-leaving a dream job, moving from a luxury apartment to a studio.

The hard work of the team has paid off. 360VUZ is now the leader and pioneer in Virtual Reality in the Middle East and it's the first Virtual Reality startup to be funded and invested in by VCs and big players in the region. 360VUZ mobile app is now ranked the #1 virtual reality app in the Middle East with over 400,000 users, doubling the user base they had last year.

360VUZ got the exclusive right to work with Dubai TV to provide the VR content for the Dubai Duty Free Tennis finals between Sir Andy Murray and Philipp Kohlschreiber.

360VUZ was the exclusive VR partner for the Mariah Carey and Enrique Iglesias at the recent Jazz Festival concerts in Dubai. With over 400,000 viewers, partnerships with Apple, Dubizzle and Samsung and the most popular search result for 360 Videos in the Middle East on App Store, 360VUZ is well poised to play a key role. 360VUZ has both a B2C ad and subscriber based model as well as B2B model for custom ad and information content for companies. To download the app simply visit www.360VUZ.com

Zaatarah follows inspiring personalities like Tony Robbins (who incidentally has invested in NextVR the US VR startup that raised over $115 million in the past two years) and Robert Kiyosaki.

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Zaatarah's favourite read is Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. The book chronicles Kiyosaki's successes in the real estate business, based on the author's well known quadrant. The quadrant very simply explains the difference between working for money and making money work for you. Zaatarah had the fortune of meeting the author within a week of reading the book.

The writer is a director at Vyashara. He's a digital banking and digital financial services evangelist, practitioner, advisor and consultant. Views expressed are his own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy. He can be reached at ves@vyashara.com.

 


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