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Sydney company wins award for virtual reality tour of city's landmarks

Sydney based company wins design award for virtual city tour App Source: Mike Vasavada

With employers around the world looking for innovative ways to motivate and engage their employees during a global pandemic that has restricted overseas travel, a Sydney company has created a virtual reality tour of Sydney for a US-based client and its employees from around the world.

With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the entire world, overseas holidays and corporate junkets have given way to virtual trips and zoom meetings, as the world comes to grips with the 'new normal'.

But a Sydney company took virtual visitations a step further with the use of technology. Mike Vasavada's innovation consultancy firm created a virtual reality tour of Sydney for a US-based company.

"We have a US-based client who organises an annual company sales conference for their employees. Every year, this global company takes its employees to different countries around the world for these amazing trips. This year too, they wanted to do something special for their employees. They approached us asking if we could help them this year," Mr Vasavada told SBS Gujarati.

So, Mr Vasavada and his team got thinking. They focused on Sydney and came up with the idea of getting all the employees of the client on a virtual trip to Sydney, right from their couches. 

"We knew that the Sydney City Council was looking for innovative ways to boost tourism. So, we proposed three ideas to them and this idea of ours got approved," he said.

Mr Vasavada's company was also financially supported by the City of Sydney's small business grant.

This helped the project in regards to researching, taking 360-degree photos and videos of all the decided spots, investing in the necessary equipment, and a few weeks later, they were ready to host a VR tour of Sydney.

Mike Vasavada
Mike Vasavada

"We picked 43 spots in Sydney and prepared a mock bus tour of the city. We then sent a kit of lanyards, VR glasses, T-shirts and masks to all the sales reps of this company. The company told its employees all over the world to log in and be ready with their VR glasses at a particular time during the decided dates," says Mr Vasavada.

He says the aim was to make this conference as real as possible. His team had already been working on some projects involving augmented reality and virtual reality. But this was a perfect mix of all of it.

"This was a very big challenge for us because along with the tour being virtual, our team was working on it virtually from start to end. We organised an event for people from multiple time zones and were practically working round the clock throughout the four days of the conference," Mr Vasavada recalls.

Mobidiction staff working on virtual city tour App
Mike Vasavada

Another exciting part of the project was that the team used different Sydney landmarks as backdrops for multiple activities for the conference.

"When they all were virtually at Hyde Park, the key speaker of the conference dropped in to talk to them from there. There were six different virtual rooms in total. One was Bondi Beach, which was labelled as the breakout area. There was a room for networking and another room exclusively for their Awards Night and a few others," Mr Vasavada said.

Mike Vasavada
Mike Vasavada

Being a mix of virtual and reality, the company has aptly named the product as 'Virt-Real'. This product has quickly become a big hit and won accolades during the recent weeks. 

"We won the Sydney Design Awards for this product this year and have also proposed a lot of other tourism and educational ideas for this product to the government. It is amazing to see how people around the world are responding to this product and adapting to the new normal."

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