Monday 09, January 2017 by Isla MacFarlane

Region's first Virtual Reality Lab launches in Dubai

Brndstr has opened the region’s first dedicated BOT (Social Chat Robots) Studio and Virtual Reality Lab.

In April this year, Mark Zuckerberg took to the Facebook stage announcing the next wave of technology – Facebook Messenger was launching what it would call the BOT Store. A new way for brands to create automated assistants that sit inside the messenger platform and offer instant replies.

During the keynote Zuckerberg showcased BOTS from brands such as CNN, where you could now simply chat to the CNN bot in messenger and get the news you wanted, instantly and directly in the chat window.

"We knew BOTS were powerful tools back in 2013 and are lucky because we have a three-year head start and 150 partners more than our competitors," said Simon Hudson, Founder and CEO.

The Brndstr BOT Studio allows brands of any size to build and host a BOT on Facebook Messenger or Twitter Direct Message. Starting at a basic level these BOTS allow a brand to add a digital assistant to its messaging channel – these instant replies can include things such as product details, maps to an office, phone numbers or opening times of a restaurant.

For brands with a bigger budget and who are looking to offer a more complex solution, they can work with the BOT Studio to integrate their back end systems and offer real time, up to date information such as flight times, hotel room availability and restaurant reservations.

"Last year we worked with Emirates NBD and were able to integrate Twitter DM's into the Banks mainframe meaning that their customers were able check their balance and credit card statements simply by sending a DM on Twitter," said Hudson.

In December British Airways partnered with Brndstr to create the BA BOTler, a digital assistant that sits on the BA messenger page and offers tips and suggestions for visiting London. "We worked closely with BA and their PR agency in Dubai to craft out a really fantastic experience for the British Airways customers. Being British and with the UK as my home country this was extra exciting for me. The BA BOTler has seen some fantastic interest and for anyone looking to visit London is a must to chat with," said Hudson.

In addition to the BOT Studio, Brndstr is also launching a brand new Virtual Reality Lab where it will help brands build new experiences in a Virtual World. "This is a truly exciting time for me," said Hudson. "Before, working for Groupon I used to assist the directors of a 3D modelling business that helped property developers and architects visualise their dreams in 3D. Using cutting edge technology we used to take an AutoCad drawing and build 3D environments bringing the drawings to life – It was actually whilst working for this company that I first came to Dubai in 2006," he added.

The Brndstr VR Lab will build 3D, virtual worlds for brands that their audiences can experience using any compatible headsets, such as the Oculus Rift or Samsung Gear VR. Where Hudson feels Brndstr has the edge over other creators is that he is able to not only build the 3D worlds, but use BOTS and integrated technology to connect these with the physical world. 

"From the 150+ partners we have, we are excited to see what magic we can build together – Imagine things like walking through the Business Class of an A380 and not only getting see first-hand what it looks like, but also book and select your seat directly from the VR environment," he said. "We are fast moving into an autonomous world where people want access to things instantly and have as little touch points to get things done - these kinds of examples are only just the beginning." 

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