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Farm of the Future VR

Sometimes, it’s better to just let people experience the future firsthand.

At least, that was the reasoning behind our 360 virtual reality experience for Climate FieldView’s presence at Farm Progress 2016. Climate FieldView is a product whose value lies in reporting the current state of every acre, as well as providing predictive prescriptions based on learned and historical data. While farmers across the board are incorporating technology into their day-to-day, some of Climate’s offerings are so precise and timely they might seem almost unbelievable. Instead of telling farmers that this platform will be used on the farms of tomorrow, we opted to show them.

After pitching the idea and getting the green light came the harder part of execution. First, to create the farm. Since farmers think in seasons, it was imperative that all of them be represented in this single world. With a professional 3D designer and our partners at Bruton Stroube, we stitched together a still image that seamlessly blended winter, spring, summer and harvest. At every season, the crop is in different stages of growth and has different needs that Climate FieldView can help best attend to.

Then, we placed the image into staging software that allowed us to get a sense for how it would act in a Google Cardboard setting. Google Cardboard is an affordable VR system that holds a phone horizontally. When seeded with a VR image and held over your eyes, you’re fully-immersed in another world.

The headsets were constantly in use, floating above the smiles of farmers from around the world.

The image was up to snuff, so it was time for Paradowski to really make the experience sing. Using javascript, we created simple, intuitive hotspots around the farm. Best described as “floating cubes,” when the viewer looked directly at them with a virtual cursor called a “reticle,” a dialogue box opened with a brief summary on how Climate FieldView was being utilized. We made a template for the cubes so we could easily adjust their color and accompanying text. The copy weaved in other future-forward elements like drones and field sensors.

With Farm Progress just around we corner, we began to consider our hardware. We purchased iPod Touches to host the experience on a wireless network, and plastic headsets with straps to nix the added step of holding the device. The materials were set up in the Future of Farming section of our tent along with glimpses of Climate FieldView hardware still in R&D.

The VR experience was quite a success. The headsets were constantly in use, floating above the smiles of farmers from around the world. The booth even went on to win Gold at the National NAMA awards.

Its success lied in knowing how simplicity plays into VR experiences based on the viewing environment. Since our users didn’t have any control, we knew the interface needed to be clear, without competing audio or laborious instructions. At a tradeshow, our viewers had been on their feet all day. They wanted to learn and be entertained, and they wanted to do it in a minute or two. Keeping the user in mind let us portray the future of farming, as well as the future of VR at Paradowski.

Go see the future for yourself at climatevr.paradow.ski.