Walid Kilonzi tells the African story with Virtual Reality

You are on the second highest peak in eastern Kenya in the dense Iveti forest with its famous cedar and pine trees. Near the top of a knoll you will come across the famous “miti muonza”, the seven trees that have stood there for over eight decades. With a movement of your head you leave the forest and enter a workshop where wood carvers are hard at work.

After admiring the finished bags, baskets, wood and stone carvings on display at Wamunyu Handcrafts, which is over 50 years old, you can go straight to Muooni Dam or seek spiritual guidance at Komarock Shrine. Alternatively, you can be teleported to the Hyena Dens.

“An immersive virtual reality experience is a more engaging way to introduce people to new cultures and places,” said Walid Kilonzi, extended reality producer and founder of Fallohide. The Kenyan studio creates virtual versions of African realities and experiences using virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR).

In his latest project, Fallohide has worked with the Government of Kenya’s Machakos District to film, map and virtualize over 150 tourism-related small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and tourist attractions across the district.

“Machakos is one of the first local governments in Africa to use virtual reality to promote their tourism industry. At the end of the project, we provided the companies with more than 5,000 digital marketing assets,” explained Kilonzi.

The assets will give SMEs “a stronger digital presence for growth through the use of virtual reality,” he said.

Kilonzi has worked on similar projects in over ten countries worldwide and has served over 300 clients, most of whom are in the tourism and hospitality sector.

In this interview with Bird Story Agency, he shares his experiences in extended reality and the opportunities it offers for Africa.

“What is the significance of extended reality technology for Africa?”

READ :  Virtual Reality In Healthcare Global Market Estimated To Grow At 45% Rate

Africa relies primarily on storytelling to change perspectives and narratives. Extended reality can help with narrative storytelling.

Let’s say you’re wearing these headsets and there’s an amazing 360 degree film about Kenya. For about ten minutes you are in Kenya and experience the country first hand. You will see who Kenyans are and immerse yourself in their landscape. After that, your perspective on the country will immediately change.

Also, the technology makes it easier to access skills and training. For example, one of our customers uses machines for manufacturing. And they’ve always had to send their Africa-based employees to Europe, Saudi Arabia, or Asia to learn about the technology. But now we can make a simulation that makes it even ten times better and more realistic than what they will learn in a foreign country.

We have also created corporate safety simulations by mapping the factory into an animated process using hand tracking.

For creative people, this technology can significantly increase their economic power. The creative industries in Africa can technologically compete with the West. We don’t sell the novelty of our VR glasses, but they help us to have our own experiences. The technology can also help improve the quality of creative offerings from Africa.

We can use this technology to solve everyday problems in Africa.

“How did you get into extended reality?”

My curiosity was piqued when I started exploring Google Maps on my phone. It has a feature called Google Street View that lets you see images up, down, and sideways at the same time. And that has always interested me.

During my school days I attended a film camp, after which I became an apprentice in a certain studio during the holidays. Here I learned about screenwriting, photography and video.

After high school I joined the African Media Digital Institute and in my second semester I worked with some people who had been in the field for about a year. I understood the business end of this while working on various projects with them. I later founded Fallohide after graduating in 2018, but it went live on January 1, 2019.

READ :  Saritasa Receives Inc.'s Inaugural Power Partner Award

“How was Fallohide received in the market when you started?”

Starting a business is hard enough; it is ten times more difficult when this industry is practically non-existent. At the time Fallohide started, the extended reality industry was very small.

The first six months were brutal. I got insights from Europe, South America, America and Asia and they didn’t work for me here on the continent. So I had to make my way.

I only had one client, and that was my ex-college buddy. They could see my vision, believed in me and gave me this chance.

Despite the challenges, I didn’t give up. When I opened Fallohide I knew what I was getting into, so I was prepared for any challenge.

However, we are now in a very solid position. We may not be the big boys on the continent, but we have the ability to sustainably grow our market.

“How did the partnership with Machakos County in Kenya come about? And what’s that all about?”

The Machakos County Government approached us and asked if we could make a regular documentary that would match what is in their tourism booklet. However, we suggested they shoot an immersive marketing project in two phases.

In the first phase we shot 30 documentaries about 30 tourist spots. These were both in virtual reality and regular documentary style. In the second phase, we partnered with Google to map about 150 hotels in the county.

In four months we moved through Machako’s mapping, granting access to business profiles, distributing free content and taking 360, VR and normal photos and videos.

Ultimately, we created over 5000+ assets just for the tourism industry.

READ :  Achieving Health Moonshots: A Health Transformer Showcase Recap | by Startup Health | February 2023

“What other exciting projects has Fallohide tackled so far?”

We worked with Google Arts and Culture to map specific buildings in Nairobi.

We have also worked with Elopak Nampak, a regional packaging company, ALP West Logistics Park, Vivo and Coca-Cola Beverages Africa.

We have worked with other districts such as Makueni and are currently in talks with Nakuru District in Kenya.

These are our main customers. It’s either like a three-system production, a simulation, or an augmented reality experience.

“What challenges do you face in the African extended reality space?”

Technological awareness is one thing. We need to do numerous demonstrations of how this technology could be used.

Cost is another challenge. Although the cost of using the technology has come down significantly since 2016, it still presents a barrier to entry. The headphones are quite expensive. Creating simulations is extremely expensive and difficult to maintain.

Some developers can also make something, but at some point it stops working because the parent company or the headset moved the code.

“What are your plans for the future?”

We want to maintain and expand our profile as a transcontinental creative studio with impact. We would also like to have an entire internal team that is entirely African. We are currently working with some people in Indonesia, UK and Argentina.

In addition, we are considering creating different markets for this technology, e.g. B. entry into the art and food scene.

We want to create a distribution platform for VR and Augmented Reality content and help create other VR companies because we believe in competition.

We are working to become a market leader in augmented reality in Africa. It would be great if we could get funding to help us develop more prototypes and cover R&D costs.

This article was originally published by The Bird Stories Agency

Like this:

Like Loading…

related posts