What you need to know:
- In a world where technology is revolutionising industries, some individuals harness its power to bring about positive change.
Walid Kilonzi is on a mission to revolutionise communication in Africa and his passion has now become the cornerstone of his extraordinary career.
Walid Kilonzi, 24, a pioneering Extended Reality (XR) Producer, has carved a distinct path in Africa's technology landscape with his brainchild, Fallohide, orchestrating an immersive journey through the uncharted territories of Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR).
Extended reality is an umbrella term for the three realities, where AR denotes a view of the real world — physical world — with an overlay of digital elements. For MR, the view of the real world has an overlay of digital elements where physical and digital elements can interact while VR is a fully a digital environment.
These digital elements inject hi-tech opportunities to gaming, movies, medicine, graphics, advertising and other fields.
Kilonzi’s relentless pursuit of innovation and commitment to reshaping the digital landscape has brought about transformative experiences for multinational companies, SMEs, African governments, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) across the continent.
Powering SMEs dived into the visionary’s passion for creativity and technology, unraveling the fascinating story behind his success and the remarkable projects that have reshaped the XR landscape in Africa.
His curiosity was piqued when he first started exploring Google Maps on his phone and got interested in the feature Google Street View, which allows one to see images up, down, and sideways simultaneously.
“I went to a film camp in high school, and during the holidays, I worked as an apprentice at a particular studio. I picked up scriptwriting, photography, and videography skills here,” he says.
"I later joined the African Media Digital Institute and got to work with some people who had been in that field for about a year during my second semester. It was during this time that I began to understand the business side of it while working on different projects with them.”
In a world where technology is revolutionising industries, some individuals harness its power to bring about positive change. Kilonzi is on a mission to revolutionise communication in Africa.
"I am not a producer who merely wants to finish a project; rather, I want to think creatively," says Kilonzi, describing his transition from the film business to the unexplored world of extended reality.
His passion, which has now become the cornerstone of his extraordinary career, was ignited by his fervor for pushing the boundaries of his creativity and discovering the revolutionary possibilities of XR.
He states that the first costs they incurred were about Sh1 million, which included labor and technical charges that he was able to secure with the help of family and friends.
"The journey was difficult, especially considering how much the imports cost. It took a lot of work to break into a new industry and convince people to use alternative media," he says, adding that acquiring the tools he needed to run his business — such as reliable computers, 360-degree cameras, and software for making VR and AR content — was vital.
Before founding Fallohide, Kilonzi worked as a virtual reality producer for another company. He claims that while there, he had the chance to supervise the development of several noteworthy projects, such as those for Google and Al Jazeera.
"My main responsibilities involved finding and developing new business opportunities in addition to overseeing the efficient implementation of VR projects. In addition, I was in charge of efficiently nurturing current customer relationships and establishing new ones," he explains.
However, he was eager to take on a project that would challenge him and beyond the bounds of what the film industry could provide.
Kilonzi acknowledges that he had dabbled in virtual reality even as a young boy, exploring its complexities and potential. Consequently, the 2014 acquisition of Oculus by Facebook (Meta) gave him hope again and signaled the possibility of leading the way into the unexplored field of XR and exploring its enormous potential.
“This remarkable breakthrough offered the chance to not only take on a fresh challenge but also help pave a new path in the field of technology. Kilonzi describes the invitation as one to "participate in the creation of a fresh narrative, to help shape and define the rules that would govern this groundbreaking form of media,” he says, acknowledging the gravity of the opportunity and says it resonated deeply with him, motivating him to explore the unexplored ground and make a lasting impact on the immersive experience landscape.
Kilonzi established Fallohide in 2019, which is at the forefront of creating immersive experiences throughout the extended reality spectrum in a world where technology is continuously changing our understanding of reality.
Fallohide creates immersive stories using Extended Reality to unveil a world where the digital and physical worlds coexist together.
"Our ground-breaking partnership with Google Africa and the Machakos County Government in Kenya is one of our most notable accomplishments. Through virtual mapping and the capture of more than 150 tourism-related SMEs and attractions throughout the county, we elevated Machakos to the forefront of the use of VR for tourism promotion,” he says, adding that the initiative not only provided a much-needed digital boost to local businesses but also facilitated a significant shift in the way tourists experienced the region.
Beyond the realm of tourism, Fallohide's footprint extends into a multitude of industries, ranging from multinational giants like Nestlé to sustainable packaging companies like Elopak.
‘’By leveraging the power of XR, the company has engineered cutting-edge solutions, including VR simulations for safety training and AR experiences that transcend geographical boundaries, propelling businesses into the future while reducing costs and environmental footprints,” says Kilonzi.
His ambitious vision transcends the boundaries of his success, aiming to foster a culture of innovation and creative excellence across Africa.
“Our goals are to support emerging XR businesses, build a domestic workforce, and create a platform to distribute VR and AR content. This is a reflection of our commitment to developing a strong XR ecosystem in Africa.”
In addition to encouraging economic development, Fallohide fosters cross-cultural dialogue and arouses wanderlust among tourists everywhere. Extended reality can assist in transcending geographical barriers and provide a distinct vision of the continent, as Africa primarily uses storytelling to change viewpoints and narratives. Storytelling that shifts the narrative can benefit from extended reality.
“Imagine you're wearing one of these headsets and watching an amazing 360-degree film about Kenya. You will be in Kenya for about ten minutes, experiencing it firsthand. You'll get to know Kenyans and become engrossed in their natural surroundings,” he says.
He notes that this technology has the potential to significantly boost the financial power of creatives.
But it has not been an easy ride for Kilonzi who has had his share of challenges such as technology awareness, cost implications, and the ever-evolving nature of the industry posing significant hurdles. However, he says that his unwavering commitment and tenacity have allowed them to rise above the obstacles.
“Throughout our journey, we have developed a strong rapport with creatives who are gifted and creatively inclined, as well as an exciting collaboration environment. Right now, we're focusing on an exciting partnership with John-Allan Namu and his talented team at Africa Uncensored," he says.
He also says that they want to explore how journalism is changing and that they want to imagine and create a future in which cutting-edge technologies are seamlessly integrated into journalism.
Kilonzi claims that they are actively creating ground-breaking journalism pieces that are especially suited for platforms that utilize augmented reality and virtual reality, all while keeping an eye on innovation.
He says, "This project is evidence of our dedication to investigating the entire range of opportunities that these immersive technologies present, with the ultimate objective of redefining the limits of storytelling and information distribution in the digital age."
Fallohide's future trajectory intends to reshape the ideas surrounding creativity and technology, with an emphasis on diversifying into different market segments and stimulating economic growth in a range of industries. Underpinned by the transformative potential of extended reality, Kilonzi envisions a future in which Africa's creative prowess leads the world in innovation.