Saturday, 8 January 2022

Meet Vukovar 365, Full of Life: Darko Bilandžić of Culex

January 8, 2022 - Meet Darko Bilandžić, the co-founder of Culex, a studio focused on the future through VR, AR, and XR.

Today’s edition presents someone you couldn’t miss if you ever visit eastern Croatia (and not only because of his height). Darko is a young entrepreneur born in Vukovar, studied and played basketball for a while in Chicago and Dallas, lived in Zagreb as well, but came right back to eastern Croatia to establish his business and start a family. He is energetic, outspoken, frustrated with the system just a little bit, but ever so positive with high hopes for the future of Croatia’s east. He is currently the director of marketing for the Vučedol Culture Museum in Vukovar (run, do not walk, to visit this magnificent place), but the reason we spoke to him was for something else. A couple of men posing for the camera

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With Mario Mikić Vučak (right), Darko started a specialised studio developing and producing unique experiences through VR, AR, and XR. This is, in his words, the future of any industry. Even though it took a while for the public to become familiar with the concepts, the general population is starting to appreciate more technologies like this. Here is what Darko had to say about it all.

Tell us about your business; what do you do exactly?

We are a specialised studio focused on developing and producing unique virtual experiences and interactive cinematic 360° video content.

The virtual world is slowly but surely merging with the real one. Diverse forms of extended reality (XR) are being applied in digital marketing, construction, architecture, healthcare, culture, tourism, sports, education, fashion, communications, and other thriving industries.

We believe that it is always a better option to actively participate in creating the future of our surroundings than being a passive bystander. Therefore, our projects thrive towards innovation, process optimisation, and new trend creation. 

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Where did you get the idea, and what makes your offer unique?

We always lived in a 3D world; the transition to Virtual Reality (VR) or Augmented Reality (AR) was the logical next step for us.

We started with a VR arcade playroom back when such virtual or augmented reality content could not be found. Since we were ahead of our time, we transitioned into making interactive and unique virtual experiences.

Our projects are our signature and what sets us apart. The best thing for us is that most of our new projects come to life by word of mouth. As a result, we tend to exceed the expectations of all our clients. 

How was it setting up a business in eastern Croatia? What were the main challenges?

It was challenging, as all new and unknown areas are. It was hard to get people to understand what we do and what these VR and AR things are.

Fortunately, the shift happened, and the way we communicate with our clients today compared to just two years ago is way different, easier. In addition, people are more educated about interactive technologies such as VR and AR.

What is your perspective for the future?

The future will be very interactive.

Virtual and augmented reality are the logical next step for any industry. We can prove that with our list of clients, including marketing, tourism, culture, architecture, museums...

Do you think that the fact that you are located in eastern Croatia affected your success? 

No! Eastern Croatia is more developed than the rest of Croatia regarding the IT sector.

What opportunities are there in our city and region?

Many opportunities! We have already done many exciting projects for Vukovar-Srijem County and Osijek-Baranja county. Mostly in culture and education. There are so many amazing untold stories here in eastern Croatia that we are overwhelmed with all that can be done. So we are negotiating with different towns/cities, tourist offices to implement these modern technologies to tell their stories.

You have done projects for the city of Vukovar before. Can you describe them and tell us about your experience? 

We have done many projects for Vukovar and Vukovar-Srijem County. These are just a few of them: A picture containing calendar

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Project name: Virtual Reality in Bibliobus

Technology: Virtual Reality

Concept: Culex XR Sudio, in cooperation with Vukovar-Srijem County, has set up a virtual reality project called "Virtual Reality in Bibliobus," which aims to popularize new technologies and present the cultural sights and riches of eastern Croatia.

The project uses VR technology through educational workshops in the Bibliobus (bus library), which stops in smaller rural areas and schools.

The user is introduced to 21 interactive scenes that describe cultural landmarks throughout this project.


Project name: Virtual Reality project by the University of Lavoslav Ružička in Vukovar

Technology: Virtual Reality

Concept: The project “Virtual Reality project by the University of Lavoslav Ruzicka in Vukovar” has made a significant step forward in modern education, not only in the territory of the Republic of Croatia but also globally. Using virtual reality technology in synergy with Culex XR Studio, the quality of education of both lecturers and students has been greatly enhanced.

Motivated by new technologies in education and learning about virtual reality, this application aims primarily at Physiotherapy and Preventive Physiotherapy students. Therefore, the university also equipped a cabinet with 11 devices.

A professor within virtual reality manages the application. Using their VR kits, students actively participate in the teacher’s lecture and independently manage the application and explore the human body in virtual reality. The app lets the user know the human body/anatomy in detail through virtual reality!


Project name: Autonomous aircraft unit VR

Technology: Virtual RealityA picture containing website

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Concept: Culex Studio had the honour of participating in creating the first Croatian virtual landmark. Project “Autonomous aircraft unit VR” was developed in cooperation with Memorial Centre Vukovar.

This virtual landmark was built in memory of the unit founder Marko Živković, pilot Mirko Vukušić, and two parachuters: Ante Plazibat and Rade Griva. Unfortunately, all of the members tragically died on their last flight on 2 December 1991.

Autonomous aircraft unit Osijek was one of the first airborne units formed in independent Croatia. They were most active during the siege of Vukovar. Their flights brought medical supplies, food, and ammo to defenders and used improvised explosives to charge enemy territories.

Our virtual simulation is based on the exhibit unit of the “Antonov An-2” model aircraft used for AAU missions. It allows you to fly with the crew on one of the 1991 flights to Vukovar. The simulation starts in the city of Đakovo, and soon after take-off, you can experience the Vukovar war zone first hand. You are in the company of pilots and two parachuters ready to deploy the supplies. At the same time, enemy forces are trying to shoot the plane down with rapid-fire.


So far, we have worked with great people on significant projects in the east of Croatia, and I hope we will continue to do so.

Do you cooperate with other businesses in Vukovar / the east? If so, how has your experience been so far?

Thus far, we have not worked with other companies in Vukovar since our work is based on specific skills that we have not found locally. We did, however, do some outsourcing with people from Osijek. We are delighted with our cooperation thus far. There are some really smart and capable people in the east.

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If we were to implement the Vukovar Card, would you take part?

I am sure we can arrange something!

Finally, tell us about life in Vukovar. What is it that you love the most? What would you say to all potential visitors?

Life in Vukovar and eastern Croatia is great. I have lived in Chicago and Dallas in the USA and our capital Zagreb, but I would not change it for what I have in Osijek or Vukovar.

I know people in the east are intelligent, friendly, and great hosts.

I have found all the tranquillity I need here, far from the big city noise.

I would advise everybody to visit the east and get to know our amazing cuisine and our culture. From a business perspective, I strongly recommend people come and work with the amazing talent we have here in the east. Map

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