A German startup aims to make virtual experiences like 3D online trade shows available to organizations around the world, with nothing more needed to access them than an ordinary desktop or smartphone web browser.
“Our mission is simple: to help people easily create, manage, and produce digital environments,” said Hans Elstner, founder of Rooom, in a recent online press event that took place in a mix of the company’s platform and Zoom.
Before the more traditional portion of the press event began, reporters were invited to move about a digital world that looked like a cross between Westworld and Avatar, with animated birds, vehicles, and pedestrians amid a series of glass domes. Floating virtual billboards of Rooom execs loomed nearby.
The session was a demonstration of what the company calls its experienceCloud, which doesn’t require a VR headset or other specialized hardware. The software relies on open standards available across devices and browsers, such as the graphics API called WebGL, although the company is also developing options for people to access its experiences through tools such as Facebook’s Oculus VR headsets.
“Not everyone has a virtual reality headset yet,” said Andrew Nash, the company’s CEO for the Americas. “So rather than bring our own device, you can enable your everywhere experience on your device of your choice.”
The experienceCloud includes Rooom’s spaceCloud, designed for building virtual environments like 3D digital showrooms, virtual headquarters, or mock-ups of real-world spaces for real estate tours or planning purposes. The spaces can be embedded in a website for visitors to explore, or walked through in a recorded video. Rooom’s eventCloud is used for hosting events, and can manage not only the design of 2D or 3D presentations but also tasks like handling tickets and newsletters.
Still another facet is Rooom’s productCloud, which offers 3D models of items available for purchase. Like spaceCloud environments, the 3D models can be embedded in websites, and they can also be incorporated via plug-ins into shopping platforms like Magento, Shopify, and WooCommerce, according to the company. Rooom also offers an iOS app to scan and digitize real-world objects.
The launch comes as businesses from Facebook to Sotheby’s are increasingly interested in building virtual environments, or so-called metaverses, where people can walk around in animated avatar form, interact with each other and content, and—naturally—buy things and be exposed to advertising.
Consumers who’ve spent the coronavirus pandemic talking to coworkers and relatives on Zoom and FaceTime between sessions of Animal Crossing and Fortnite are now more used to virtual interactions. And organizers of events such as conferences and trade shows are gearing up for a world in which businesses are less likely to fund flights and hotel rooms, and the complexities of international travel and virus restrictions make in-person meetings less appealing.
Rooom, which recently closed a $5.9 million round of funding, officially launches this week with a free plan and paid pricing plans starting at 49 euros (roughly $58) per month, before long-term subscription discounts. Rooom has already delivered 3D events for some clients, including phone giant Deutsche Telekom. More-expensive plans offer additional 3D objects and spaces, as well as additional support and customization options.