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As in 2021

Avik Das, July 14, 2021: The Times of India

The software also creates a virtual avatar that is an exact digital copy of the customer, including skintone and hairstyle. It uses photos of clothes and footwear to recreate them into 3D versions. A customer can fit these onto the 3D avatar to see how it would exactly look, fit and drape on her. The Bengaluru-based company was among the 11 best international fashion startups selected by Startupbootcamp in Milan in 2019, a programme that had Prada and Accenture among its partners. BigThinx has taken virtual fashion try-ons to a whole new level using virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI). More than 30 customers in nine countries, including Fortune 500 companies and those in e-commerce, luxury fashion, and export houses, use BigThinx. They use it to reduce returns and apparel waste, for brand engagement, and to increase conversions.

Returns are a big issue when buying fashion online. “The return rate is close to 80% in Germany and brands lose millions on this,” says Chandralika Hazarika, who co-founded BigThinx together with Shivang Desai. Returns, she says, have been reduced by over 40% with 3D body scanning alone, and by up to 70% when using digital avatars for virtual try-ons.

VR and augmented reality (AR) are beginning to enable fascinating solutions, particularly in combination with other technologies like AI and robotics. Reliance’s Jio Glass, unveiled last year, will enable you to sit at home and join a meeting with colleagues in 3D. Hyderabad-based Imaginate has also built a solution to provide 3D conferencing capabilities, one which it is expanding to serve different use cases. Jio Glass expects to enable teachers to provide a more immersive and engaging remote learning experience for students. These products have been designed and built by Mumbai-based Tesseract, a company that Reliance bought in 2019.

Mimyk, incubated out of IISc Bangalore, has developed simulators for surgeries to help young doctors understand how a procedure is done without having to experiment on a patient. “Traditionally, junior doctors learn by watching senior ones performing surgeries. We use AR/VR systems to have a simulated body on an operating table and an endoscope that doctors can use to insert into it. The haptic system acts as an interface for human and machine interaction,” says co-founder Shanthanu Chakravarthy.

The haptic interface consists of a haptic device (a mechanical manipulator with sensors) and a computer that runs the control system governing the interaction with the virtual world. A number of hospitals, including Asian Institute of Gastroenterology, Hyderabad, and Ramaiah Hospitals, are currently testing the product. “One of the advantages of this immersive technology is that, in an oil rig, for example, which is being constructed, I can identify what problems will emerge,” says Praveen Bhaniramka, founder & CEO of Exxar, a company that provides solutions to Caterpillar, Garden Reach Ship Builders, and Eicher Motors.

There is always a gap between design and construction, and it is a major challenge in industrial and manufacturing units, leading to wastage and cost escalations. “Virtual reality allows you to foresee these problems by physically being there, reviewing the design,” says Bhaniramka.

How to become a successful AR/VR professional?

Mimyk’s Shantanu Chakravarthy says a good grasp of computer graphics, mathematics – especially linear algebra – and sound programming skills are crucial. “UI/UX knowledge, and digital art are also important,” he says. Familiarity with writing code in C/ C++, Java, Python, or Swift is necessary for the field. A VR/AR workgroup formed by Nasscom has recently designed a curriculum aimed at upskilling learners who have a basic understanding of extended reality and enabling them to expand their knowledge by learning AR/VR concepts at a foundational level. It is aimed at university students enrolled in engineering, computer science, statistics, science or mathematics. The objective is to enable them to explore entry level roles such as AR/VR support analyst and junior engineers.

Job openings and salaries

Staffing firm Xpheno estimates there are some 14,000 active openings in AR/VR for those who know Java/ Pyhon/JS, 9,000 for those who know C3/ C++/ C#, 12,000 for backend engineers, 6,000 for Objective C/ Swift, 4,000 for UI/UX designers, and 1,500 for Maya/3D MAX/Autodesk 3D. These are for experiences ranging from 2 to 8 years, and salaries range from Rs 16 lakh to Rs 27 lakh.

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