Ticket app Rukkus adds virtual reality to find perfect seats

Remember that time you went to a basketball game, but what you thought would be great seats were behind a pillar?

The folks at Rukkus are doing something about that. The digital ticketing marketplace’s newest feature, called Seat360, uses virtual reality to let you check out the view from inside 100 of the largest venues around the country. It’s available today on iOS and Android.

Manick BhanManick Bhan, the company’s founder, says the new feature on its mobile app is the “biggest single innovation in the ticket buying space since the seat map.”

And it’s hard not to agree if you’ve ever found out that your seats to that once-in-a-lifetime concert or sports event were wedged into a corner, really far from the aisle, or had the dreaded “partially obstructed view.”

Bhan, a longtime member of WeWork, talked to us about Rukkus, it’s exploration of new technology, and how it is expecting $100 million in sales this year.

How it works

It’s pretty darn simple: find the event you want on the Rukkus app, choose an available seat, then click on it. You’ll get a high-definition view from that part of the venue: straight ahead, side to side, even up into the air.

Don’t like the view? Just click on another seat until you find one with just the right vantage point. Then you can go ahead and purchase them in the app.

“The really tricky thing about a lot of these venues is that you really don’t know what you’re getting until you get there,” says Bhan. “Now you’ll always know exactly what the view from your seat is going to look like.”

So if you want to see Paul Simon at his upcoming gig at the Hollywood Bowl, you’ll be able to see whether you’ll be close enough to see his trademark work on the acoustic guitar.

How they refined the idea

The original plan was to use drones to photograph each of the venues.

“We had actually hired five professional drone pilots,” Bhan says. “But pretty quickly we decided that we couldn’t go in that direction.”

The team decided that taking high-definition shots from the seats in each venue was the way to go. They took a step back to figure out the logistics of getting the right shots, since most of the venues wouldn’t allow big cameras inside. The technology they used had to be as compact as possible.

“There was a lot of experimentation.” Bhan says. “We finally figured out over the last six months how to do it, and we sent our team out across the country.”

Want a 3D view of an auditorium? Bhan says Seat360 is compatible with Google Cardboard, so you’ll be able to get a more immersive view.

Why it’s a game changer

The photography belongs to Rukkus, so no other company is going to be able to offer the same service. Bhan said it would take another company an enormous outlay of time and money to catch up.

Competing companies like StubHub are also beginning to explore virtual reality as a way to drive ticket sales. Last month, the company announced that it would offer 3D renderings of a small number of venues, but it stops short of the panoramic photography from Rukkus.

Over the 12 months, Rukkus is planning to offer a complete catalog of venues around the country. Bhan says it’s another step forward for the company, which projects blasting past $100 million in transactions this year.

Not bad for a company that launched its app two years ago.

“It’s amazing, really,” says Bhan. “We’ve come a log way. Instead of catching up with industry, now we’re leading it.”

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