Today we're officially releasing Expo, a new VR platform from Contraverse.
Expo is a virtual reality platform that makes it easy to exhibit 360 videos to large groups of people.
Whether you need to show a single 360 video at a trade show, lots of videos at a venue, or manage a synchronized virtual reality cinema, Expo will enable you to do it with ease.
Our team at Contraverse has been running and managing virtual reality cinema events to showcase our original content since 2017. We have been developing this platform and improving our processes to help brands, educators, and top film festivals seamlessly exhibit VR content to their audiences, and they have all proven that our solution works — really well.
Since we started this journey, we have used our tools privately to help clients like Hot Docs International Documentary Film Festival, FIVARS, VRTO, Cinemuskoka Festival, Toronto New Wave, Canadian Academy of Film & TV, Canada Goose, House of VR, and many more.
We are now releasing our tools and processes as a software solution to help enable even more people to bring VR to their events and audiences more affordably.
The Expo platform works in three parts:
- Web Dashboard
- Expo Virtual Reality App
- Cinema Remote Tablet App
Expo Web Dashboard
The Expo dashboard is your hub for uploading and managing your content, customizing your VR environment, viewing analytics and heatmap data, and watching or downloading training content. This is also where you will manage your account and profile settings.
We designed the dashboard to be easy and intuitive to use. It's easy to find tutorials, support articles, and training content so you can effectively use the tools and effortlessly train your team.
The dashboard is where you will access your 6-digit pin-code so you can easily access your content on the VR app and tablet remote app, on all of your devices.
Expo VR App
The Expo VR app is a customizable 360 video player that is extremely easy for you and your team to setup, and foolproof for your audience to use.
To access your content on the app, simply type in the 6-digit pin code from your dashboard.
Once logged in, you'll be able to view and download your content in three different modes.
The Expo VR app can be used in three modes:
In Grid mode, you get a "Netflix-style" grid menu where you can freely choose which experience you want to watch and have full control over the menu and playback settings with your VR remote.
Cinema mode allows you (the operator) to fully control and synchronize all connected headsets with the Cinema Remote app. It puts your audience in a virtual "waiting room" where they wait for you start their experience from the Cinema Remote. Once the video is playing, their headset remote input is completely disabled so they can't accidentally exit the app, stop the video, or play another video that they're not supposed to.
Kiosk mode is great for a completely hands-off experience that lets your audience easily view 360 videos without a controller or much help from an attendant. It has two settings:
- No-menu playlist mode: This is great if you only have one experience, or a playlist of videos you want to show in a particular order. Kiosk mode completely removes all menus, and instead presents you with a black screen. When you put the headset on, the first video in your playlist will automatically start playing (without having to press any buttons). If you keep the headset on, the next video will start playing. Once you take the headset off for more than 5 seconds, the app resets back to the first video so that when the next person puts the headset on, the playlist starts from the beginning again, automagically.
- Gaze-based Kiosk menu: This kiosk mode shows all of your content on a grid menu, but instead of having to use a VR remote to select an experience, you can simply look at the thumbnail of the video you want to watch and it magically starts playing. Once you take off the headset for more than 5 seconds, the app resets back to the kiosk menu, ready for the next person to view.
These three VR modes (including two kiosk modes) will truly tackle any use-case you throw at it. You'll have plenty of options to tweak and change your preferred viewing method based on the type of situation or event you'd like to run.
Cinema Remote App
The Cinema Remote app is a companion app to the Expo VR app that allows you to manage, control, and monitor unlimited VR headsets with ease.
Similarly to the Expo VR app, you login with your 6-digit pincode to access your content, then you can monitor and control all headsets logged in with the same PIN.
With the Cinema Remote, you can easily manage all of your headsets and automate the download process for all of your content on all connected headsets. This is great if you need to setup 100 VR headsets for an event, and you don't want to put all 100 headsets on your face.
Once all of your content is downloaded, you can choose whether to auto-select all of the connected devices, or select individual headsets. This gives you the flexibility to synchronize the playback of all connected headsets, or play separate experiences on individual headsets.
When the videos are playing on the headsets, you'll be able to see a video preview of what your audience is looking at, as well as the timecode of where they are in the experience. No more saying "what do you see now? Is it still black?"
Finally, you can get in-depth information on each individual headset that is connected by tapping on the drop-down menu. Here, you'll be able to see the device's battery status, temperature, download status, and more.
Offline / Local Synchronization
One of the main problems we've had when trying to run VR cinemas at venues and expos is that the wifi is spotty, slow, or non-existent.With Expo, you can connect to all of your headsets from your tablet completely offline, without the need for an internet connection.
Simply plug in any off-the-shelf router (yes, even the ones your parents use in their home), then connect to that network with your tablet and VR headsets, and you're good to go. Of course, the larger the number of devices connected, the better, or more routers you'll need. We'll be writing up some setup guides on routers that we recommend for different situations in the near future.
More than just software
What we're planning to do with Expo is much more than just the software that enables it. We want this to become a full end-to-end solution and training platform for film festivals, brands & businesses, educators, and anyone else who wants to showcase 360 video to an audience.
We are already launching with amazing tutorials and help documents, and you'll also be able to access downloadable PDF's with training guides and quick troubleshooting guides to train your staff and volunteers. We made this to be as easy to implement as possible; even if you've never used VR before. It truly is a turnkey solution.
The feedback we've gotten so far from early adopters is promising, and we'll be constantly updating our resources regularly with new findings and techniques.
In the future, we are also planning on a video training series that you can follow along and share with your staff and volunteers to make learning how to exhibit VR even easier.
How to get started today
Since we're in closed beta, we're limiting who can sign up and start using the platform.
If you're interested in demoing the product and learning more, then sign up here for a demo.
By singing up, you'll also be added to our email list so we can notify you when we open the platform to the public, as well as news and updates on the product, and free VR resources that we share regularly.
Call to Adventure
Contraverse is a Canadian Academy Award nominated Virtual Reality production and distribution company. Contraverse produces original VR and 360 video content, branded experiences, and delivers content on all available VR and mobile devices through the Contraverse streaming platform. Contraverse sets up, manages and consults on VR cinema events and expos with a team of expert staff and high quality virtual reality equipment.
Expo is a platform by Contraverse for seamlessly exhibiting 360 video content to large audiences with ease, including kiosk and synchronized VR cinema modes.