Freeman Digital Ventures Acquires VR Specialist Helios Interactive

TSE STAFF

Dallas — Freeman took a giant step into the burgeoning realm of augmented reality and virtual reality with its acquisition of San Francisco-based Helios Interactive, a company that has made its mark creating experiences for events like the NBA finals, San Diego Comic-Con International and The International Consumer Electronics Show and even a virtual reality cycling tour for IBM’s Watson at South by Southwest.

“We launched virtual reality (VR) in January, and interest was exceptional, which led us to partner with Helios so we could provide a complete V solution,” said Freeman Executive Vice President and Chief Digital Officer Richard Maranville. He said Freeman and Helios had some clients in common, so it seemed a logical evolution. “We wanted to jump start our own capabilities in that arena,” he said.

From the Helios standpoint, Managing Director Mike Schaiman said the acquisition enables Helios to showcase their expanded capabilities. “We want to stay on the cutting edge with a continual education process to get the message across,” he said.

Both executives consider the move to be complementary: Helios has clients that ask for design/build/fabrication assistance that the company didn’t have and Freeman just launched VR in January, so Helios expertise helps Freeman provide a full solution for clients, Maranville said.

Additionally, Freeman has the ability to handle remote installations, while Helios has expertise in the scalability of digital solutions that can be customized for events large and small. “Event space won’t go away, but (we) can create more effective communication with attendees with digital (solutions),” Schaiman said.

In an interview with Trade Show Executive, the two executives also said that costs for using digital solutions vary widely, depending on what the user wants to create, and those costs aren’t necessarily more than what the clients spend now on branding. Freeman is positioning the new services as a one-stop shop for integrated brand engagement and experience.

“Customers will be able to work with a single provider to bring their brand story to life with attention-grabbing exhibits that combine the latest technologies, smart strategy and seamless execution,” he said.

Reach Richard Maranville at (214) 445-1000 or Richard.Maranville@freemanco.com; Mike Schaiman at (415) 558-0511 or schaiman@heliosinteractive.com