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Australian start-up businesses focusing on real-world VR applications

Phoria, a Melbourne-based start-up has set an example for VR use. It used to contribute VR for real estate companies and now helps cancer-stricken kids.

The company contacted by a family who had seen one of its VR real estate ads. Fascinated by the headset, the family wanted the high-tech gizmo for their daughter, who was undergoing cancer treatments in the hospital.

The incident inspired Trent Clews-de Castella, co-founder of Phoria, to wonder how VR could be used in a socially constructive manner. The tech company, established in 2014, has achieved upwards of $1 million in revenues and is now steadily marching towards the $2 million threshold. Castella and co-founder Joseph Purdam state that they were able to create new VR projects will real-world value.


Phoria has created associations with the Royal Children’s Hospital, the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute during the past year. The partnerships are useful for evaluating if VR makes a positive difference for cancer-stricken children.

One project deals with VR’s effects on children’s anxiety levels, while the other involves a simulation for helping children and their loved ones get ready for radiation therapy. Maria McCarthy, coordinator of psycho-oncology services at the Royal Children’s Hospital’s Children’s Cancer Centre, stated that VR was truly immersive and had a profound effect on patients.

She stated that the experience has been excellent, admitting that health businesses rarely associate with start-ups. Phoria has an extensive 4-year portfolio of interactive projects with several businesses.

According to Castella, the Phoria team recognised the dynamic nature of VR. The technology has useful applications across industries, as opposed to being a ruse. He stressed that such uses made VR more than a plaything.

Growing demands

Phoria is a consultant for Facebook Australia, in a role which connects the network to businesses. The purpose of this partnership is the fast development of AR projects.

With the 2014 Oculus purchase and releasing AR filters for business ads this year, Facebook has built its presence in the augmented reality domain.

Karen Maurice O’Leary, creative strategist at Facebook Australia states that businesses in the country are quite interested in creating custom AR filters, in addition to interactive Facebook ads. She stressed the power of simple ideas which encourage people to customise offerings.


A prominent example of AR incorporation is the West Australian Ballet’s custom AR filter development recently. It exhibited an AR film to individuals who held their devices over their season brochure.


Tash Tan, the founder of Sydney-based digital company S1T2, explains that Facebook has realised how AR is a shareable business tool. He acknowledges how Facebook VR offerings are working to build better communications. S1T2 is expected to double up on its $2.5 million annual revenue.

Tan and Castella are like-minded in their approach of creating real-world AR applications. A VR game has been launched by S1T2 as part of its Pacific Islands project. The app helps children to eat healthily. Tan admits that finding local talent is a challenge with future growth.



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