Virtual Reality is a truly exciting technology.
In April 2018 I had the privilege of hosting Mr. Jonas Rothe, CEO and Founder of TimeRide at IUBH University of Applied Sciences (Bad Honnef Campus).
TimeRide is an extremely exciting virtual reality start-up that provides a unique time-travel experience through the street of Cologne (Germany) in 1910. It represents an innovative tourism experience that is certain to gain great popularity and impact the way tourists and citizens perceive places.
Following an insightful and inspiring presentation to over 70 students from the course of “Business and Marketing Research”, Mr. Rothe answered a few questions related to the company, virtual reality and more.
- LiveInnovation.org: When did you first try VR glasses and where did the idea to start a business involving VR come from?
Mr. Jonas Rothe: I had the chance to take part in an early preview in 2013 where Oculus’ Dev Kit 1 version was shown. It was huge, heavy, bulky and the graphics were rather poor compared to today’s standards. Nevertheless, it was a blast. I experienced a level of immersion that I had never seen before.
Soon after that, my mind started working on how to make something useful out of this technology. Combined with my interest in history and the childhood dream of time-traveling, the idea of TimeRide VR gradually evolved.
- LiveInnovation.org: What are the main opportunities and challenges for someone starting a business involving VR experiences, such as TimeRide?
Mr. Jonas Rothe: One of the main opportunities is that Virtual Reality has been hyped greatly among customers. Since the virtual reality technology itself is still expensive, people are eager to explore the possibilities of Virtual Reality without spending hundreds of Euros. TimeRide VR offers an educational, historical VR experience, that also satisfies touristic and fun related demands of people.
As one of many challenges, we have experienced that there is only few technical experience to build upon yet. We were the first to connect up to 30 Virtual Reality sets for a public use. Since there is no manual or instruction for that we had to test a lot and find our own solutions.
- LiveInnovation.org: TimeRide delivers an incredible time-travel experience for consumers around the city of Cologne (Germany in 1910). Which other forms of time-travel experience through VR can you envision? And what about music experiences?
Mr. Jonas Rothe: As far as time-traveling goes, there is no limit to my imagination. There are lots of suitable places with rich, historical backgrounds. TimeRide VR is not intended to remain a one-stop-show in Cologne alone. There will be more locations coming in the future. As a hobby musician myself I would love to do a Virtual Reality music experience. But for my ideas I would need professional musicians by my side…
- LiveInnovation.org: In the TimeRide experience, consumers not only use VR glasses, but also have their senses triggered in other senses with seat vibration, air spray and sound. How important is the stimulation of these other senses to the consumer experience at TimeRide?
Mr. Jonas Rothe: The additional triggers are very important for the experience. They add greatly to the immersion so people really have the illusion of being in the midst of the (hi)story. They also counteract problems like motion sickness. At TimeRide we have eliminated motion sickness.
- LiveInnovation.org: How do you see the future of VR? Which new products have you seen that truly caught your attention?
Mr. Jonas Rothe: Virtual Reality will develop further. Especially weaknesses of the first generation like sharpness and wearing comfort will be improved.
Other developments include further types besides virtual reality, namely augmented and mixed reality solutions. Those project digital information into your physical view of the real world which probably lessens immersion but allow for new ways to present historical information.
- LiveInnovation.org: There is a common view in the industry, supported by some of our research findings, that VR is still far from reaching its full consumer acceptance. In your experience, what are the main factors hindering consumers from purchasing VR glasses and having home experiences?
Mr. Jonas Rothe: The price tag is still an issue. Although the prices of VR sets are gradually decreasing, people still need rather high-end computers usually only used by video gamers accounting for about 2.000 Euro or more. For non-gamers this is a rather high investment for consuming VR content. And since VR is still in its youth, quality is still behind the standards of what people are used to in traditional 2D media.
- LiveInnovation.org: What is the future for TimeRide? How does the company look forward to expanding or adopting other VR possibilities?
Mr. Jonas Rothe: We have plans for expanding and spreading TimeRide VR to other major cities. I hope we can tell more very soon…
In case you are visiting Cologne in Germany, do not miss the chance to visit TimeRide. And you can book your ticket by simply visiting their site or clicking HERE.