Having followed the rise of many startups over the years, you often hear the mantra of “Right Product, Right Place, at the Right Time” in order to achieve success. Turns out you don’t have to look to Silicon Valley for example. Right here in Western Canada, PureWeb is a rising star during these unprecedented times that is helping companies all around the globe adapt to the new realities of business life.
With the global health crises, events being cancelled, one of those was the annual Geneva Motor Show. PureWeb is a Calgary tech company that specializes in streaming 3D content, but unlike Netflix or Youtube, the content is all virtual and completely interactive.
I came to learn about one of PureWeb’s impressive success stories with Volkswagen. Volkswagen Group is a multinational automotive company and comprises twelve brands from seven European countries including Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Audi, SEAT, ŠKODA, Bentley, Lamborghini, Porsche, Ducati, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Scania and MAN.
I connected with PureWeb’s CEO, Barry Allen, to learn more about the company, their technology, and what the future holds for virtual events.
Brian Clendenin: What was the initial challenge here for Volkswagen?
Barry Allen: “The Volkswagen events marketing team had spent months planning out and putting together their booth for the Geneva Motor show. This is where they planned to debut several of their new models. It’s an important annual event for many automakers where they connect with their fans, customers, and the media. When it was announced that the motor show was cancelled, Volkswagen no longer had a venue where people could experience and explore their new cars against a backdrop of carefully curated branding.”
Brian: What was the solution offered through your technology?
Barry: “In partnering with Volkswagen who provided the plan for the booth, and content creators Exozet who made a digital version of the 2,762 square meter space, and our ability to distribute such content without limits, we achieved everything the real booth would have, and then some.
Volkswagen could offer their virtual booth attendees a complete, 360 degree, virtual version of their entire space from the Geneva Motor Show. Including all their new 2021 models, Volkswagen branding and videos in the background, music to set the tone, information on each car and the ability to use “x-ray view” as well as change paint colours and rims on each vehicle. All of this accessible globally, to anyone with an internet connection and the link.”
Brian: What is your opinion on why Volkswagen, headquartered in Germany, sought out a Canadian tech company for a project that was supposed to take place in Switzerland?
Barry: “PureWeb is very uniquely positioned. We’re globally the leading interactive 3D cloud streaming service meant for enterprise. We have a history in the medical field and currently play in industries such as training simulation, automotive configurators, architectural planning, and digital twin systems. The other companies that do what we do work predominantly in the world of video games, which means they don’t have comparable ability to scale to a huge audience or the same stringent data security. We can deliver the high fidelity, photo-real 3D renderings that would normally only be accessible using a high powered, gaming computer, to audiences anywhere on the map, using any device from your laptop to your tablet to your smartphone. Our platform is proprietary, we’ve spent 15 years building and perfecting it, and it’s how we’re able to scale a project such as this to thousands, or even millions of users. We’re the industry leader and we happen to be in Western Canada.”
Brian: What was the delivery process like? An undertaking like this must have taken a long time.
Barry: Actually, one of our pride points on this project is how quickly we brought it to fruition. From the initial conversation to the time we had the virtual showroom up and running, it was nine days. Volkswagen first sought out content creators, Exozet, to create a virtual version of the showroom using Unity 3D – a powerful creation engine used to make realistic 3D virtual assets.
Once the digital space was complete, it was passed to us. We collaborated with Exozet to optimize the game file that they created for cloud rendering. Then we were able to put the project onto our cloud streaming platform which handles the massive computation of having hundreds of people simultaneously interacting with this file, and having the file react in real-time. It also deploys the stream from multiple AWS data centers around the world, choosing the closest one for each user, which serves to cut down any lag. Behind the scenes, we are constantly monitoring use, and scaling the program up and down depending on traffic. Once on our platform, the digital showroom is available globally to users anywhere who click a link. It makes no difference if someone is using a powerful gaming computer, their home laptop, or their mobile device. People can go in, “walk-around” the booth, interact with the cars, get information, and have an experience. It’s basically a video game serving a crucial business purpose.”
Brian: What kinds of results did Volkswagen see?
Barry: “The result was that Volkswagen now had a platform to show off its 2020 lineup and their entire setup for the Geneva Motor Show. But, instead of being restricted to the individuals who would have physically gone to the show, they were able to invite the whole world. They put the link out on their social platforms to millions of followers, and instead of running their booth for ten days, they are able to run it for as long as they like, 24 hours a day, globally.
It meant that their market grew exponentially, and though this started as a tradeshow, it has opened the door to a whole new level of experience that can be provided to the online customer.”
Brian: What does this mean for the future of business
Barry: “We were already steadily moving towards a future where immersive, virtual experiences were needed. Industries ranging from fashion to real estate have been working to enrich the online experience of their customers with digital reality for some time. This serves to prove that we have that technology to make that a reality now.
Trade shows are only the beginning of a user journey that could go all the way to a sale, and beyond. Say you are perusing a digital showroom, one of the cars catches your attention, you configure it to your taste and favourite it. Now you have a custom digital asset, maybe you download a spec sheet on it, you send a picture to your mother, you post it to social media for your friends to see. You might even hit a button to contact the nearest dealer or set up a driving test right from the program. You see how seamless the experience can become.
We’ve seen that businesses can adapt to cater to the client who is at home. Once the dust settles with this global pandemic, people will expect the same level of service and convenience. Connecting with customers on a new, experiential level, especially during and after such a profound event in our shared history will have a lasting impact.
We’re not only enabling businesses to achieve continuity during a difficult time in the market, but this is also changing how things will be forever. As customers, we expect much more than a website could offer ten, even five years ago, and as businesses, we look for ways to exceed those expectations. Covid-19 has just accelerated us on the path we were already on.”
PureWeb truly does have the “Right Product, Right Place, at the Right Time.”