Warp VR: immersive VR trainings with 360˚ video and 3D technology

On-the-job trainings wherever you like. Based on realistic, interactive scenarios that involve real-life experiences and emotions. Occasionally, trainees will have to ‘dust themselves off’ and try again. Metaphorically speaking, of course. Working from the landmark Van Nelle Fabriek building in Rotterdam, Warp VR develops training solutions based on virtual reality technology, 360˚ video and gamification. “A resuscitation exercise becomes a lot more realistic when you’re surrounded by panicking people than when you’re practising with a PowerPoint video and a dummy.”

The best way to learn is by doing, by immersing yourself in an unfamiliar situation, and by going through trial and error until you get results. But you do need those situations – and they aren’t always at hand. This, in a nutshell, is what inspired Warp VR CGO Guido Helmerhorst to start his own company five years ago.

360˚ video

At the time, Guido was still working for KLM. He saw how difficult it was to fulfil various training needs when it came to issues like safety, managing teams or dealing with aggression. Often, it’s more or less impossible to set up a realistic training situation. Then an experience he once had led the proverbial light bulb to go off in his head. Guido: “Back in 2014, I attended a concert by Paul McCartney – the first performer to use 360˚ video for the benefit of his audience. It felt like you were up there on stage with him: you could literally look down on his keyboard! It felt very special. But it wasn’t interactive yet at that point.”

And Guido recognised the potential of this technology. With interactive 360˚ video, you could create locations and situations that feel real to the user. And these could furthermore be used anywhere in the world. It presented all sorts of opportunities for training. “I envisioned a library filled with knowledge and skills. You can open this depository at any given time to access and use a specific situation and scenario. We don’t introduce the trainee to the situation; rather, we provide the trainee with a true-to-life situation.”

From basic idea to further development

Warp VR’s home base is Rotterdam, which is no coincidence according to Guido: “We got the basic idea for Warp VR during a brainstorming session at CIC Rotterdam, one of those creative hotspots. It was a real ‘back-of-a-beer-coaster’ moment. We first started in 2017, working from an office at Delft University of Technology via the tech incubator programme YES!Delft. This three-month programme helped us find our way around the region’s IT and Tech ecosystem, make new connections and offered us a context within which we could receive visiting delegations and the like. This is also how we landed our first clients – KLM, Shell, NS, Tata Steel. They were eager to drop by, since they could have a look behind the scenes at YES!Delft. Business was good, and we were thinking about moving into our own office. And then Covid-19 broke, and everything changed.”

A great fit with Rotterdam

When things started returning to normal in 2021, it was time to think about a new office, and a new home base. It didn’t take long before Rotterdam came into the picture, and a fresh injection of capital by several angel investors meant that Guido and his team could move into their own office that very same year. Warp VR opted for the Van Nelle Fabriek. “This puts us very close to the action. Different industries and potential clients, other companies working in Creative and Tech, various networks… plus the talent that you desperately need if you want to keep growing as a start-up. Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences and Delft University of Technology are all nearby. As it is, Warp VR and Rotterdam are a great fit: the city is home to all sorts of operational companies, there’s the port, the maritime cluster, the associated industries and the STC (Shipping and Transport College, Eds.), the logistics chains… this is where we find our partners and clients. You could say that we can handle the entire process from Rotterdam: from design to development, to bringing the product or service to market.”

Warp VR is still busy exploring how it can best tap into – and contribute to – Rotterdam’s unique ecosystem. “We definitely see ourselves as an international company. One of our colleagues even works from Mexico. We see a lot of opportunities in advancing together with other companies within Rotterdam’s various networks. And we greatly benefit from our interaction with Rotterdam Partners, who co-organises programs like Globaliser and activities like trade missions for start-ups and scale-ups with international ambitions, such as the recent incoming mission from Singapore. We contact the trade team of Rotterdam Partners for research, for instance, or with questions about internationalisation. And they’re also handy for personal connections. It allows us to stay in the loop, and you discover all sorts of promising opportunities when you get together.”

Enough talk, let’s get started

And Rotterdam suits Warp VR in other ways too, according to Guido. “I love this town. There’s less blah-blah here, Rotterdammers are very down-to-earth. Enough talk, let’s get started: that sort of thing. Try and try again. This city has a good vibe. Its strength lies in taking – and being able to take – the initiative. Take that first brainstorming session at a creative hotspot, for instance. We hung in there when times were tough, and look at where we are today. Yes, we feel right at home in Rotterdam. We’re a good fit.”

 

Immersive Tech Week 2022

Warp VR remains an active contributor to Rotterdam’s IT & Tech cluster and innovation ecosystem – as reflected by the company’s participation in Immersive Tech Week 2022 (VR Days). This year, the face-to-face part of this key event for the IT & Tech scene will be taking place in De Doelen ICC in Rotterdam. Warp VR can be found at two different stands, together with hardware supplier Pico and STC. Warp VR will also be teaming up with STC in the programme item ‘Maritime Morning: Crafting tomorrows innovators: riding waves of change for the maritime ecosystem’ on 30 November, for which the partners will be giving a presentation entitled ‘See you on the other side | train students with VR’.

 

Photos: Rotterdam Partners, Warp VR, Edo Landwehr, Guido Pijper, Iris van den Broek

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