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WebVR storytelling: the way to increase user engagement

VR Storytelling

by Gabriela Georgieva

In a previous post, we introduced the WebVR Incubator. A program that empowers six ambitious teams of web developers to build immersive VR experience with web technologies. In this follow-up post we will introduce you to Empact.

Behind Empact there are two determined professionals – Hristian Ignev (founder) and Milan Rusev (web developer). They are working on a storytelling project in Virtual Reality to show news media agencies and nonprofit organizations how they can use the new technology to increase user engagement.

Large media companies have already realized the potential of Virtual Reality for storytelling – USA Today has a VR news show, VRtually There, and The New York Times has The Daily 360, where they share on a daily basis 360-degree videos from all around the world.

“One form of storytelling that will gain momentum: Virtual Reality. “ Mario Garcia, CEO and founder of Garcia Media, shares his trend projection for 2017 for NiemanLab.

Virtual Reality is undeniably the best media for storytelling but technologically, it has many challenges for journalist who wants to use it. On the VR headsets market there are various devices ranging from the cheap mobile-based Daydream to the PC-connected HTC Vive. If VR creators want an experience to be accessible on every VR device, they need to create separate apps for each of them. This takes a lot of time and effort. WebVR offers a solution of this problem, allowing VR content to be created and experienced through the web, a familiar accessible platform. In addition to that, building VR experiences with WebVR is easier and faster than with a game engine and every web developer can do it. With their project, Empact are leveraging these benefits to help storytellers increase their outreach through VR.  

“We are developing a demo, which will be an example of how a media like The Guardian or The New York Times would look like in WebVR”

The team was excited to answer our questions about their idea and vision of the newest web technologies:

Can you introduce yourself as a team?

Hristian Ignev: My name is Hristian Ignev, and I am working on the business side of the project. I, also, have some background in filming.

Milan Rusev: I am Milan Rusev, I am a software engineer.

What do you think about WebVR as a technology?

Milan Rusev: WebVR, as a technology, is a very promising one. Right now, it is in infant stage, technology-wise. Most of the frameworks are in Beta versions, but in the next couple of years, it will drastically improve .

Hristian Ignev: WebVR is still a new technology and the browser support is just starting to emerge. But I guess that in the next few years, we are going to see not only WebVR, WebVR is just a start, but we are going to see Web Augmented Reality and Web Mix Reality. All of these platforms will take advantage of web technologies that are being used for the current web.

Define WebVR with one word:

Hristian Ignev: Easy.

Milan Rusev: Cool.

Empact team working on a news media WebVR experienceLEFT TO RIGHT: Hristian Ignev, Milan Rusev

How did you decide to develop for VR?

Hristian Ignev: I think that VR is a very good way to change people’s opinion about important topics, and that it is the ultimate empathy machine. We focus on social causes, so VR is a way to engage people with important topics.

Why did you choose to develop with WebVR?

Hristian Ignev: We chose WebVR because, once you develop for WebVR, it is compatible with all VR headset platforms. We think that’s a very good way to attract clients from news media.

Milan Rusev: Besides that, developing with WebVR is much easier than developing on native platforms. 

Do you have any previous practice with this technology?

Hristian Ignev: Before the Incubator, we developed a few 360 videos and a VR in 3D made in Unity. Now, we have made a 360 video for a Bulgarian charity and we have started working with charities in the UK.

Tell us more about your current project with WebVR:

Hristian Ignev: Currently, we are working on a WebVR project for news media. We want to show it to journalists in the UK and USA, so they can see how the future of VR for news media would look like.

Gif of Empact project

What is your vision for the future development of your project in the next three months?

Hristian Ignev: We are hoping to speak with a lot of people from the news media, to understand their needs and what they are looking to achieve. This will help us develop an experience matching their exact needs.

Milan Rusev: I hope that we will be ready with a full-featured demo. Also, to have a better understanding of how the technology works.

How about in ten years?

Hristian Ignev: Well, in ten years time, our aspiration is to develop something like the United Nations 2.0 where people can learn in VR about any important topics and events happening around the world, get interested in them and then get chance the take action and impact those issues.

How did you find out about the Incubator?

Hristian Ignev:I found out about the Incubator from the Social Media. It was in the VR Facebook group, Bilyana posted there.

What was your incentive to join?

Hristian Ignev: The thing that made us join the Incubator was that it builds a community of start-ups working on the same problems like us. We wanted to be in such an inspiring environment. The Incubator also offers mentors and technical advice, so this is what attracted us.

Follow Empact on Twitter!

Author: Gabriela G, Twitter

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