AVATOUR and Insta360 Offer Virtual Reality Remote Presence as a Solution to Coronavirus Travel Restrictions

3 min read

Real time, real world, immersive communication allows people to be in two places at once — saving time and money, and getting the job done without travel

Call it an out-of-body business trip. A new communications technology is helping tech-forward companies respond to COVID-19 travel restrictions. The AVATOUR remote presence platform​, created by San Francisco startup Imeve​, makes clever use of Insta360 cameras to transport users to a remote location in real time, providing a risk-free substitute for travel. Together, Insta360 and Imeve are providing a new alternative for businesspeople who find themselves suddenly unable to visit international facilities.

AVATOUR is a new cloud service that enables real-time, multi-user, 360-degree remote presence. ​Ken Minn, CEO of smartphone accessory company ​Kenu​, was one of the first to use AVATOUR to virtually visit a manufacturing partner in China. “Before the coronavirus, someone from our team would be in China at least once a month.” said Minn. “The outbreak has been pretty disruptive, as we were hoping to ship a new product immediately after Lunar New Year. With AVATOUR, we are able to walk through the entire factory with our Chinese partners to review progress, just as if we’re there. In some ways it’s even better than before — ​now I can visit anytime without the jet lag.”

Ken Minn uses VR telepresence, a unique remote work technology, to visit manufacturing partners
Ken Minn uses VR to keep in touch with his manufacturing partners during the COVID-19 epidemic.

AVATOUR integrates with Insta360’s popular ONE X camera, enabling realistic, live 4K 360° capture with an intuitive, palm-sized device. AVATOUR has been in beta since Fall 2019; this new joint offering with Insta360 marks​ ​the ​first commercial release of the platform.

VR telepresence and remote work using Insta360 ONE X
AVATOUR’s remote presence platform uses Insta360 ONE X to make live 360-degree communication easy.

“As more companies and countries limit or halt travel, businesses worldwide are being forced to find remote working solutions. Videoconferencing platforms like Zoom and Skype can replace a conference room, but until now, there was no substitute for location-dependent meetings like facility walkthroughs, site inspections, and site-specific training,” said Imeve CEO Devon Copley. “Using AVATOUR to visit a location alongside someone thousands of miles away ​feels more like an in-person visit than a videoconference.”

The AVATOUR platform is available now to qualified companies in the United States, EU, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and China. After qualification, Insta360 will ship capture hardware directly to the facility, which will host AVATOUR sessions. Imeve provides remote visitors with VR headsets from Oculus/Facebook. The hardware/software package starts at US$1190 (€1090, £990, ¥150,000, CNY8,800) for 60 days of service. Interested company representatives can visit ​http://avatour.co/welcome​ to apply.

Ken Minn uses VR telepresence technology to remotely visit business partners
Ken Minn, CEO of Kenu, visits his Chinese manufacturing partners in VR.

About Imeve

Imeve​ ​is a world leader in real-time remote collaboration, live 360° video, and virtual reality. Founded in January 2018 by key members of the groundbreaking Nokia OZO team, Imeve’s technology has powered some of the highest-profile live VR events in history, including the Coachella music festival and the UEFA Champions League playoffs. Their new ​AVATOUR platform is the world’s first multiparty immersive remote presence service, with a wide variety of applications across industries. Imeve is privately owned and based in San Francisco.

About Insta360

Founded in 2015, ​Insta360​ makes boldly innovative cameras that help people capture and share their lives. The brand’s ONE series cameras pioneered the use of a compact dual-lens design to redefine what’s possible with an action camera. The ONE series brings together groundbreaking stabilization, the ability to easily capture drone-like aerial angles, and the freedom to reframe a shot in any direction after the fact — all in a palm-sized device. Insta360 also offers a premium range of ultra-high-resolution professional VR cameras. Their best-in-class imaging and streamlined workflows make it easy for filmmakers to jump into immersive content production.


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