Lucid Dream Is Making The Virtual Real, Fun And Educational

Lucid Dream VR Co-Founder Joshua Setzer explaining the company's experience available on VR and AR headsets, as well as their tablet-based programs.

In Downtown Durham, the co-founders of Lucid Dream VR, Joshua Setzer and Mike McArdle, are settling into their new office in American Underground, which is home to over 200 startups.

The augmented and virtual reality-based startup—that’s AR and VR to you and me—is embarking on its third anniversary. The new digs, in Cloud Factory’s former space, were needed to accommodate Lucid Dream’s growth, as the fully bootstrapped company now has 12 employees and expects to be at about 15-18 by the end of 2019. That’s because Lucid Dream’s AR and VR experiences are filling a need for their enterprise clients in a decidedly cool way.

“We compare our experience to eLearning, which people have to do every year,” said Setzer. “Employees have to do these modules around hostile workplaces, sexual harassment, job place safety – all-learning based things. Often times they have 20 tabs open and press play and do something else without actually learning anything. That’s worrisome to me.”

Co-founders Setzer (right) and McArdle (left) showcase one of their tablet-based AR simulations, this for medical training.

Lucid Dream produces a variety of VR- and AR-based learning programs. Setzer said there are custom leadership, development and coaching skills that can be taught in a more engaging and effective way by using Lucid Dream’s tech.

“They’re widely applicable and from a learning standpoint, VR is very powerful compared to traditional models,” Setzer said. “Unless you close your eyes, you have to consume the product. And we have data behind engagement based on eye and head movement and decision making.”

Corporate training, however, is only one use case. The company’s custom experiences might help educate a company’s salespeople or marketers on their product, or serve as an engaging demo for a client’s current or potential customers. A nonprofit might want a cool way to show its donors what their money is helping accomplish, or a client might simply want to draw a crowd at a conference with a cool, branded game that will make their booth the place to be and spark conversations.

Whatever the client’s need, Lucid Dream focuses on creating immersive and engaging experiences. Their driving mantra is the use the “cool tech” of VR and AR—and it is indeed pretty cool—to help their clients solve a specific problem.

“We provide simulations that create a real human response,” said McArdle. “So the people using our products are learning content via immersive technology, not passively taking in information.”

Two of the AR (left) and VR (right) headsets used to experience Lucid Dream’s programs.

This approach has attracted clients as varied as Red Hat and The Nature Conservancy of North Carolina. Lucid Dream’s annual recurring revenue has already cracked the “low millions,” the founders say.

Setzer and McArdle said Lucid Dream’s core purpose to “make learning magical,” and whatever the specific use case, they want every experience to be an immersive one. Said Setzer, “We make it more magical for your customers to learn more about a company’s product or service, or your employees to learn job-critical skills or content.”

In fact, the primary downside of Lucid Dream’s content seems to be that you might be disappointed to return to “real” reality when it’s over.