French mixed reality startup Emissive has secured backing from HTC via its Vive X accelerator program. The move targets an anticipated spike in demand for virtual reality and augmented reality applications in museums. Emissive has also unveiled a new VR format called immersive expeditions, which virtually transports people to culturally significant sites around the world. In the wake of the pandemic, countless industries are adapting to what may be a “New normal.”
COVID-19 could have a particularly long-tail effect on museums and other cultural institutions that need to figure out how to operate within social distancing constraints. Founded in Paris in 2005, Emissive has evolved over the years to support devices and technologies as they come to market, including the first wave of consumer VR headsets.
Emissive works with museums and businesses ranging from fashion brands to telecommunication companies to bring their stories to life through VR and AR applications.
HTC and Emissive have worked together on numerous projects, including the Louvre Museum’s first public VR exhibition, which celebrated the Mona Lisa last year on the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death.
Separately, the Louvre and Emissive developed a version of the exhibit that people could experience from anywhere, either through their own headset at home or on a mobile app – “Even if the immersion is not quite the same,” Emissive CEO Fabien Barati told VentureBeat.
The pandemic has raised questions about the long-term viability of museums and other public spaces.
“They need to create new formats addressed to a broader audience, whether inside or outside the museum, and the immersive expeditions fit completely with their perspective.”
Each expedition takes place in a group and is designed to last around 40 minutes, and Emissive said it plans to launch several more expeditions soon.
To incorporate these virtual expeditions, museums must have a space large enough to accommodate groups of people wandering from point to point.
At a time when museums around the world are going back into lockdown, even virtual technologies such as this seem risky, but Emissive says the expeditions can be deployed flexibly.
For starters, they can accommodate spaces of up to 1,000 square meters, so when museums are allowed to reopen with restrictions in place, they will be able to spread visitors around or limit expeditions to people from the same household “Bubble.” And there’s nothing stopping exhibitions from being held in an outdoor setting, such as a courtyard or gardened area.
Virtual expeditions are also timely given current restrictions around global travel.
VR vacations are not an entirely new concept, but with much of the world reentering lockdown, there is an opportunity to rethink the “Virtual holiday.” This is not necessarily what Emissive’s virtual expeditions were designed for, but it’s easy to see how it could evolve over time.