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Zenview co-founders Agnella Serafin and Mathias Keune shown in a montage using graphics from one of Zenview's virtual environments. Photo: Patricia Pitsch/Maison Moderne, virtual graphic provided by Zenview
Luxembourg startup Zenview is more than mere virtual reality: its co-founders Agnella Serafin and Mathias Keune hope to redefine well-being in the workplace.
Imagine that instead of going on your next coffee break, you could enter a meeting room and be transported to a forest, hear the lulling lapping of a lake and take a seat in the shade of a tree. All it takes is about 4 m2, according to Mathias Keune and Agnella Serafin, the masterminds behind Zenview.
Zenview is a Luxembourg-based startup that has developed a fully immersive, virtual reality platform and “combines the healing properties of nature and the proven effect of meditation,” according to Serafin. Based at the Luxembourg House of Startups, Zenview was named one of “10 Luxembourgish startups to look out for in 2019” by online publication EU-Startups.
It works mainly on a subscription model, so a company has all-inclusive access to the software, including 8 VR environments, and service after the initial setup of the hardware and physical space. Internal promotional materials can also be provided to help engage employees.
“At the beginning, we organise a workshop around mental well-being,” Serafin says. “Most companies in Luxembourg don’t yet have any kind of programme implemented.”
The generation of overall usage reports also provides feedback on employees’ emotions, on an anonymous basis.
Keune says the VR covers a range of senses--“it’s easy to escape”--and that, in addition to workplaces, he could envision it being useful “in other environments where people have to stay but might not want to stay, like a hospital, airport, elderly home--all the places where people don’t have such easy access to nature.”
The future roadmap for Zenview looks promising. Working with researchers, “we’re looking into integrating biofeedback into the system,” says Keune, adding that this could potentially include heart rate and brain waves.
In the longer term, “it could even be possible to control the world by your brain: if you are calm, the sun is shining, but if you are thinking about problems and are stressed, it starts to rain. That’s definitely the future.”
For the moment, Zenview has been operating in Luxembourg, but the team hopes to have a more compact, mobile version of the box, which would help with international expansion. Other plans include setting up a built-in “camera” which would allow for screenshots to be taken inside the world (say, at a canyon) and be immediately printed, photo-booth style. In addition to the realistic environments, the co-founders also hope to develop more abstract ones which could include, for example, chromotherapy elements.