SAN FRANCISCO and SHENZHEN, China, March 11, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A new communications technology is helping tech-forward companies respond to COVID-19 travel restrictions. The AVATOUR remote presence platform, created by San Francisco startup Imeve, employs the latest virtual reality technology to transport users to a remote location in real time, providing a new and effective substitute for travel. Shenzhen-based camera maker Insta360 builds the 360-degree cameras that make AVATOUR possible. Together, the two companies are providing a new alternative for businesspeople who find themselves suddenly unable to visit facilities worldwide.

AVATOUR is a new cloud service that enables real-time, multi-user, 360-degree remote presence. Ken Minn, CEO of smartphone accessory company Kenu, was one of the first to use AVATOUR to virtually visit a manufacturing partner in China. “Before the coronavirus, someone from our team would be in China at least once a month.” said Minn. “The outbreak has been pretty disruptive, as we were hoping to ship a new product immediately after Lunar New Year. With AVATOUR, we are able to walk through the entire factory with our Chinese partners to review progress, just as if we’re there. In some ways it’s even better than before — now I can visit anytime without the jet lag.”

AVATOUR integrates with Insta360’s popular ONE X camera, enabling realistic, live 4K 360° capture with an intuitive, palm-sized device. AVATOUR has been in development for two years, and in beta since Fall 2019; this new joint offering with Insta360 marks the first commercial release of the platform.

“As more companies and countries limit or halt travel, businesses worldwide are being forced to find remote working solutions. Videoconferencing platforms like Zoom and Skype can replace a conference room, but until now, there was no substitute for location-dependent meetings like facility walkthroughs, site inspections, and site-specific training,” said Imeve CEO Devon Copley. “Using AVATOUR to visit a location alongside someone thousands of miles away feels more like an in-person visit than a videoconference.”

The AVATOUR platform is available now to qualified companies in the United States, EU, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and China. After qualification, Insta360 will ship capture hardware directly to the facility, which will host AVATOUR sessions. Imeve provides remote visitors with VR headsets from Oculus/Facebook. The hardware/software package starts at US$1190 (€1090, £990, ¥150,000, CNY8,800) for 60 days of service. Interested company representatives can visit to apply.

About Imeve
Imeve is a world leader in real-time remote collaboration, live 360° video, and virtual reality. Founded in January 2018 by key members of the groundbreaking Nokia OZO team, Imeve’s technology has powered some of the highest-profile live VR events in history, including the Coachella music festival and the UEFA Champions League playoffs. Their new AVATOUR platform is the world’s first multiparty immersive remote presence service, with a wide variety of applications across industries. Imeve is privately owned and based in San Francisco.

About Insta360
Founded in 2015, Insta360 makes boldly innovative cameras that help people capture and share their lives. The brand’s ONE series cameras pioneered the use of a compact dual-lens design to redefine what’s possible with an action camera. The ONE series brings together groundbreaking stabilization, the ability to easily capture drone-like aerial angles, and the freedom to reframe a shot in any direction after the fact — all in a palm-sized device. Insta360 also offers a premium range of ultra-high-resolution professional VR cameras. Their best-in-class imaging and streamlined workflows make it easy for filmmakers to jump into immersive content production.

About Kenu
Kenu is an award-winning smartphone accessory brand based in San Francisco, sold in 35 countries on 6 continents. In 2013, Kenu invented Airframe, the world’s first line of portable car vent mounts for smartphones, with over three million units sold worldwide. Kenu was recently awarded Best Wireless Charging Car Mounts and Best Wireless Charging Power Bank honors from Wirecutter (a New York Times company).

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