There is a chance that you won’t ever go to Mars, swim with sharks, or have a cup of tea on top of the Himalayas, but virtual reality is bound to make all that possible and more. Virtual reality stimulates bits of your world using high-performance equipment, like headsets and gloves. Aside from entertainment, VR has been used for a number of years by airline pilots for training and by surgeons for understanding complex molecules and procedures. And now, VR is being used more in the field of education and safety — all thanks to Bit Space.
Founded by Daniel Blair in 2015, Bit Space Development Ltd. is a digital media company based in Winnipeg, Manitoba that focuses on virtual and augmented reality to create interactive learning experiences. They work with industry leaders, experts, and educators to build games that will teach and engage their learners.
We had the chance to have a chat with Daniel Blair and learn more about his business and how we were able to help its growth and development.
Tell us about Bit Space. How did you come up with the concept and how did it all begin?
I have a background in Computer Science and I always enjoyed tinkering with technology and coming up with new ways to make a difference in the world. I eventually found myself getting involved in the startup ecosystem, interned at a startup and learned a lot about what I wanted to do.
Then I began working with a group of students. We started in web app development and found ourselves focusing specifically on 360° photography and videography, which lead to the development of PanoPla. This was basically the YouTube of panoramic content.
We didn’t finish the project. We went through the pitch circuit for the venture but realized that the consumer need just wasn’t there yet and that our VR content was difficult to work with. So in early 2016, we decided to focus more on real estate. And it actually worked well! We provided agents with the technology to provide 360° online tours of their properties to their clients.
So it worked well but it wasn’t having the impact on the overall space that I wanted Bit Space to have. I just didn’t want to start a business for the sake of having done so. I wanted to make a change and fill a need.
And that’s when you changed directions?
Yes! We built relationships with Oculus and Google VR and built a lab with all the hardware needed. And we changed into the field of education and safety. This is where we found our potential. Our focus now is working with early adopting companies who want to use technology to teach safety to people. We worked with the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association where we built a 360° learning environment for them that trains workers on the site.
How did you come across Lending Loop?
This was our second time ever accessing capital. I actually received Lending Loop’s flyer in the mail! We were in the process of upgrading our hardware and building out new roles at the company and of course, you need capital to make it happen. We are not a big team. I specifically wanted to grow our sales team because I was the only one doing sales and marketing. It really put a lot of pressure on me. So the biggest impact of Lending Loop was that they provided us with the capital needed to upgrade the tech and build a sales team. I now have a sales manager, a director of marketing and will be adding a support role. We also upgraded four workstations.
I specifically like that I can interact with investors on Lending Loop’s marketplace. I can chat with them and answer their questions about Bit Space. I’m constantly recommending Lending Loop to other startups in Winnipeg. You guys are on top of my list!
What are your future plans for Bit Space?
I’m dedicated to making an impact through immersive technologies. I want to make sure that the same technology is used by other developers to help grow their space further. We are currently in the process of turning this into SaaS by this summer and focus more on heavy construction and other research projects in locomotion. We are well-established in the West Coast of Canada and now are hoping to expand into the U.S. market in the near future.
“We firmly believe that a thriving community is the only way that we can succeed as an organization. We implement this through working closely with organizations like North Forge to create the Advanced ICT Lab and early on with our work alongside Red River College to help develop the ACE Project Space.”
To learn more, watch Daniel Blair’s TEDx Talk.