Cincinnati company is pioneering the use of virtual reality for variety of business solutions
Grab your virtual reality goggles, it’s time for … new hire training? Although most people still associate VR with gaming: think the PlayStation headset or Oculus gear, VECTRE in Cincinnati is out to prove that the technology has applications beyond a passion for fun and games. The company’s VR software has the potential to disrupt how a number of industries approach everything from product and architectural visualization to training and brand storytelling — all within a simulated environment.
“We’re virtual reality and augmented reality developers who create software business solutions,” said Myra Ballentine, co-founder and managing partner of VECTRE. “A lot of times when people hear VR, they think it’s just about games, but there’s so much more than that. We’re storytellers. We create experiences where every little detail is so realistic you actually feel like you’re there. That’s what we call the ‘sense of presence,’ and that’s what VR does for you, it lets you become fully immersed.”
Being “fully immersed” is a sensation that the VECTRE team hopes to bring to a wide range of experiences. For a product redesign at P&G, VECTRE presented an entire Walmart to help the design team see their shampoo bottle next to competitors and experience its shape and look as if it existed in real life. The VR tech also has applications within company structures themselves, offering the chance to “live” out situations in bias training or risky job site situations.
“Our VR training experiences can help someone understand what it’s like to stand in someone else’s shoes,” said Ballentine. “This is revolutionary, especially in terms of bias training, because you empathize in a much deeper way when you to feel like you’re there. What’s great about this in terms of education and training is that employee retention is 75 percent higher because our brain remembers VR as a memory, not just something we saw on a screen.”
The VECTRE team isn’t just interested in visualization and inclusion on a technology level, it’s also ingrained in their company culture. Ballentine made sure her company reflected the same inclusive learning environment she found while learning around the world, and firmly supports opening the door for more women in tech spaces.
“Women in tech is a hot topic right now, and we admire organizations like the Hillman Accelerator, that want to support inclusion,” said Ballentine. “When I first started out, I wasn’t aware of all the different kinds of support, but there’s a lot in Cincinnati — everyone wants to help one another.”
After receiving support from Cintrifuse, a partner of the Ohio Third Frontier, the VECTRE team along with co-founders Michael Ballentine, Parth Naik and Christopher Stewart hopes to continue pushing the limits of VR technology while expanding their storytelling skills to new projects and training modules.
“Every once in a while, a new technology comes around and changes everything, and I know VR is capable of that,” said Ballentine. “We’re excited to be a part of the first wave but being part of a startup is definitely hard work. With Cintrifuse connecting us to so many resources, we’ve found a place that understands what we’re going through and wants us to succeed.”