This Vancouver-based company has developed advanced VR analytics and intelligence tools and platforms that provide meaningful insights to content creators and, in turn, help them make better VR experiences.
cognitiveVR was not founder Tony Bevilacqua’s first entrepreneurial venture. He was the Chief Product Officer with a company in Orlando that build analytics technology for mobile and game platforms, when he began to recognize the need for advanced analytics in VR. He saw quickly how audiences often had an emotional reaction to VR experiences that went beyond the typical game and/or film engagement. When the firm he was working with was acquired, Bevilacqua returned to Vancouver to found cognitiveVR. Today, cognitiveVR provides the analytics tools for developers to help them optimize their content and provide ease of development. Ultimately, cognitiveVR allows people understand how audiences and customers are using their VR experiences.
For Bevilacqua, the need for advanced analytics in VR was obvious. As a fundamentally new medium, there was a hunger for data to help understand and shape its potential capabilities and opportunities. As creators moved beyond the prescribed box of traditional media, they opened up numerous bugs and performance issues attempting to direct audiences through a given narrative. cognitiveVR believes it provides the insights that allows creators and developers to figure out how to address the issues as they arise.
A relatively young firm, cognitiveVR is a small but powerful team of engineers with deep experience in 3D, interactive arts and the games industry – a combination of experience that works very well for VR. The mass of exodus of Canadian talent to
engineering roles in the USA has made hiring senior level talent locally a challenge and the high cost of living in Vancouver simply adds salt to the wound. Also on Bevilacqua’s mind is the lack of high risk technology investment in the Canadian market.
cognitiveVR boasts a number of local partners and is well connected in the Vancouver VR eco-system. Its clients, however, are decidedly international with 90% of customers based in Australia, UK, Asia and the USA. Bevilacqua is himself down in San Francisco every two weeks, working from the company’s SuperVentures co-working space and explaining that cognitiveVR “has to be down there” to grow.
Key success factors
One distinction for cognitiveVR is that it supports multiple VR engines, and so is an engine-driven customer agency. Its competitors, on the other hand, are mainly focused on 360 – which is not as challenging. Similarly, customer access to cognitiveVR’s platform is relatively open (SaSS) – one can go on the website to access it straight away. In this way, cognitiveVR is more available for mass distribution. Bevilacqua appreciates these distinctions can create additional test hurdles to cross, but he is confident that such differentiation will prove crucial to cognitive VR’s success.
cognitiveVR currently supports hundreds of customers with products ranging from games, movies, training simulations, retail testing environments, architecture, medicine and real estate. The platform currently hosts tens of thousands of devices every month and is growing.
Bevilacqua would like to see the VR eco-system thrive in Vancouver but also linked to Toronto and Montreal. He sees the foundational skills in 3D animation and games as transferring well to VR and as a potential advantage to the Canadian industry. Despite frustrations with the high-cost of living and lack of access to capital, Vancouver is a strong home for cognitiveVR, not in the last because of proximity to Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. For the near future, cognitiveVR is focused on building a great product, and is less concerned with revenue, though that may change before 2017 is out.