For many years, Extended Reality (XR) was only a concept that few Nigerians read about and remained alien to most people. Nigeria was still crawling in this aspect of technology. Even when Nigeria finally experienced a taste of the technology through various Extended Reality products, it was a consumption-based experience and not a creation-oriented one. However, this infusion of various forms of Extended Reality, particularly virtual reality, into Nigeria, launched a meaningful XR conversation that prompted the engagement of Nigerians in the XR space, particularly the Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) industry.
Virtual Reality (VR) leads the pack of XR technology applications in Nigeria, having the most use cases. Founded in 2016 by Judith Okonkwo, Imisi 3D, arguably pioneered VR adoption in Nigeria. The Extended Reality (AR/VR) company was created to accelerate the growth of AR/VR developers in Nigeria, provide AR/VR solutions, alongside educational and engagement experiences with AR/VR. The company has paved a way for the emergence of a number of AR/VR developers and solutions in Nigeria.
In 2016, the company organized the first ever Virtual Reality (VR) hackathon. The hackathon brought together talented Nigerian youths, to create AR/VR solutions that addressed pressing challenges. The hackathon produced five impressive innovative AR/VR solutions, including a learning experience app that teaches you how to code, through a combination of the Gear VR with the Leap Motion to create motion aided learning in the virtual environment, which was developed by the winning team. Their solution earned the UNICEF Innovation Fund in 2018. The other projects presented at the hackathon include: an app that allows you to experience locations in Nigeria before visiting; a gamified learning experience that explains human conception; a VR application that teaches extension workers how to deal with farm pests in local languages; and a retail VR app for virtual shopping. A lot of other innovative developments have been created by Imisi 3D, to sustain the growth and engagement of Nigerians in Extended Reality, including a VR-for-schools project to enhance the quality of education in Nigeria and numerous AR/VR trainings across the country.
Stan Lab is another innovative Nigerian VR startup with a disruptive VR solution. Their focus is on improving the quality of STEM education in schools that lack traditional physical laboratories. The company’s product is packaged into a 3D virtual laboratory application that allows students to learn and practise science experiments through a learning experience that is just like that of a physical laboratory. This innovation is a low-cost alternative to physical laboratories for schools. It is particularly useful in a country like Nigeria, where a lot of schools lack fully equipped science laboratories.
The Nigerian XR sphere is quite rich in diversity, though it is still in an evolutionary phase. Taeillo is another Nigerian startup that shifts the narrative of Extended Reality in Nigeria beyond the usual. The startup is a furniture and lifestyle brand. However, they have found an exciting way to improve furniture experiences through Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. Through AR and VR, the company offers a better and more interactive shopping experience which allows customers to see how furniture pieces look and how they fit into whatever space the customer has in mind, from the comfort of the user’s home. Without physically interacting with the products, Taeillo’s potential customers are able to experience furniture shopping in the way that they want, just like a physical interaction. This is made possible through a 3D and AR view. The company also provides VR showrooms where customers can explore furniture pieces and interact with them without physical contact.
Expanding the diversity of Extended Reality in Nigeria, Quadron Studios advances the strides of the technology with a focus on content creation. Specifically, in film-making. The company specializes in the creation of VR animations for storytelling and digital content creation. Engulf VR is another Nigerian VR company that specializes in the creation of branded VR content for VR marketing, VR training and VR activations.
To many Nigerians, Extended Reality is still a far-fetched technology, in terms of local involvement and widespread usage. However, with the rising integration of XR in Nigeria, the technology is fast-approaching a state of widespread adoption. The coalition of the contributions of the numerous Nigerian Extended Reality organizations, like Imisi 3D, Stan Lab, Taeillo, Quadron Studios and Engulf VR, is gradually carving a stable spot for Extended Reality in Nigeria.