Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence Become Mainstream

The article is published in Business Connect magazine, Issue 3 (174), May-June

New technologies will require new skills and will become more important in our lives.

Virtual reality creates new professions, while artificial intelligence becomes greater part of our lives. These were the main conclusions from the Club – Disruptive Technologies.

Every company can benefit from virtual reality, but for now the most active ones are real estate agencies and tourism, said Georgi Stoyanov, co-founder and CEO of VR Express. With virtual reality you can tell stories that engage users, and this new experience can be used for all marketing goals, he added. We see new professions – like shooting 360-degrees video, which requires new skills in such content, Stoyanov said.

“Augmented reality is new for us. It doesn’t need expensive equipment, it’s enough to have a smartphone and install an app. We have been experimenting with these new technologies for six months,” said Alexander Balkanski, COO at Allterco Group, which has been working on Treasure Hunt – game with augmented reality. The key, he added, is to find all industries that can use augmented reality in their work and explain them how to do that.

Radosveta Kalcheva, senior sales manager in Vivacom, gave several examples of Android apps created by the telecom hub, such as interactive educational platform for kindergartens and schools, projects for presenting activities or touristic sites of municipalities, and even a special app for the oncology hospital in Sofia in its medical imaging work.

Artificial intelligence as a service will become greater part in our life, and a reason for that are the preconditions that can make it cheaper, said Viktor Manev, co-founder and partner in Impetus Capital.

Connecting human brain with hardware will be the next big thing. Ethical issues are yet to be discussed, i.e. if someone jumps on the road, what will the autonomous car choose – to save the driver, or the pedestrian. Soon we will witness time when computers will have to make responsible decisions, Manev added.

The experts said that the dynamic development of technologies can lead to serious social problems; for instance, the introduction of autonomous trucks in the United States, more than 2 million drivers will lose their jobs, and an entire roadside industry will be doomed to death. Therefore it’s possible for the regulators to try and slow down the technologies while looking for solutions of unexpected problems.

Atanas Kiryakov, CEO of Ontotext, part of Sirma Group Holding, explained what the practical usage of innovations can be on text analysis or face recognition. Much of the technology is already available, and it has direct application in business. For example, with camera a shop owner can analyze demographically places different people stop at.

Another application is analyzing the feedback from clients for the traders having a website.

Ivaylo Ivanov, COO of Iuvo Group, explained its business model based on crowdfunding.

“We can see future possibility where clients of financial services will use global markets and choose their most appropriate service that is not tied to the local market,” he said. An obstacle when entering foreign markets, however, is that Europeans don’t really trust the communication process.

“When we talk about platform that connects two parties, providers work with small margin. That’s why for us volume is important, and every new costumer and new market is a reason to celebrate,” Ivanov said. This is the way business will work from now on – in close communication with the client, even though you are not face to face, he added.