KICKBOX Success Story: VR becomes a Reality at Swisscom
by Michael Hunkeler
With Swisscom KICKBOX, Swisscom employees can easily launch and develop their innovative ideas. They receive a starting budget of CHF 1 000, 20% of their working time to use to work on their idea for two months, as well as a personal KICKBOX coach. Today I'm talking to Mauro about his idea to make virtual reality meetings a reality.
Mauro is making VR a reality at Swisscom.
Michael: Mauro, good to see you in person again. In the last few months, thanks to your KICKBOX project XRMeetings, you have spent much more time virtually than most of us. And today you’re reaching a new milestone. But first, tell us more about your idea.
Mauro: I'm really interested in topics surrounding VR, avatars, and the metaverse! XRMeeting aims to make working in a virtual space as good or even better than working in an office. Imagine the following: a virtual room, your avatar, slides, whiteboards, notes, post-its, and virtual objects. Now add your virtual colleagues and you're in the middle of an XRMeeting, whether you're using a mobile phone, a laptop, or augmented or virtual reality glasses.
Michael: Exciting! And as we all know, VR is certainly a hot topic! How has your KICKBOX- journey been so far?
Mauro: It's been... exciting, with lots of ups and downs, new iterations of the idea and expressions, physical prototypes, and then of course virtual ones. But let's start from the beginning:
When I had a shoulder surgery in 2020 and had to sit at home, I rediscovered VR. Before, I stumbled upon the technology during my studies. I thought to myself, ‘You know what Mauro? It would be really cool to establish VR in Swisscom.’ And so I started my KICKBOX journey. With hardly any budget for two pairs of glasses, but with a lot of motivation for something new, I made a small attempt. In a physical room with two to three people at a time, I was able to bring virtual reality to life. In just two days, more than 50 people joined me and consistently gave positive feedback.
Michael: That’s a brilliant start - how did it go from there?
Mauro: The following stage was the BlueBox prototype phase. Here I was able to set up more than 40 pairs of glasses for various teams, from Banking to Learning Experience, to Security. Oh, and my two teams, one in Switzerland and the second in Rotterdam, had regular exchanges in VR, as we didn't want to travel to Rotterdam every week.
For me, it was a super exciting journey. I learned a lot in the field of Design Thinking and Lean Startup. During the whole process, XRMeetings was my baby and I could take full responsibility - I appreciated that a lot! XRMeetings is now an established project, that is continuously growing with enthusiasts, helpers, and five core people. We have dedicated stakeholders, our own budget and big plans for scaling the project.
Michael: What a tremendous achievement for you and the team throughout the last few months. With this set-up and the growth potential mentioned, it is a pleasure and honor for me to award you a GoldBox for XRMeeting! With this, you ascend to the Olympus of Kickboxers who manage to validate, test, and scale their idea! Congratulations!
Mauro: A huge thanks to everyone who took the plunge and became part of the journey. Thank you also to the teams who stayed on throughout, to the learning squad for their full commitment, and to the KICKBOX Team for believing in me!