Eight VR Startups to Watch at the Emerging Companies Summit

by Alain Tiquet

Everything changed for VR startups two years ago when Facebook announced it would pay $2 billion for headset-maker Oculus.

Facebook’s big bet was the signal other investors needed. Since then, venture capital deals and dollars invested in virtual and augmented reality have tripled, according CB Insights, a venture capital research firm.

Venture investment in VR and AR reached a record $775 million in 2014, led by $542 million in funding for AR startup Magic Leap, according to consulting firm Digi-Capital. Without any major deals, funding last year was nearly $700 million.

And VR startups are multiplying. They’re building better headsets, creating better content and taking VR beyond gaming into manufacturing, construction, medicine and more.

That’s why we’re putting the spotlight on eight promising startups at the Emerging Companies Summit April 6, in Silicon Valley. The Emerging Companies Summit has a track record of helping promising companies—Oculus among them—win wide recognition.

The VR Showcase is an opportunity for VR startups to make a pitch to an audience of VCs, press, technology executives and others attending GTC.

The companies will take questions from Jeff Herbst, vice president of business development at NVIDIA, and Mark Rein, vice president and co-founder Epic Games. To make things a bit more interesting, the teams are competing for hefty cash prizes.

VR for Medicine, Tourism and More

The eight startups, which all use GPUs, are developing new immersive experiences to train surgeons, relieve pain, gain insights into data and more. Here’s a quick look at all eight:

  • Ease VRdevelops a platform to allow developers to analyze and react to user behavior in virtual, augmented and mixed reality environments.
  • Sixense Entertainment  – develops technology to bring a user’s hands, head and full body into the virtual world. It focuses on gaming and 3D modeling for consumers.
  • Osso VR – creating an immersive surgical simulator designed to train surgeons to use new or unfamiliar devices, with an initial focus on orthopedic devices.
  • RATLab – working to develop an Excel visualization plug-in that allows users to analyze data in 3D, which can provide insights not visible in 2D.
  • realities.io – develops a platform for virtual tourism that transports people to historic sites and places off-limits to the general public, such as France’s Grotte de la Verpilliere, an archaeological site where humans and Neanderthals lived for 50,000 years.
  • DeepStream – focuses on VR for pain relief. Its SnowWorld game helps burn victims, and hospitals use its Cool VR experience to help patients manage pain without drugs.
  • BioflightVR – develops an augmented and virtual reality platform for medical industry training, sales and diagnosis, with a tool that allows doctors and other medical professionals to view patients’ CT scans and MRI data in 3D.
  • IrisVR – develops a tool that allows builders, architects and engineers to create virtual walkthroughs of design projects, based on their own 3D models.

VR Renaissance

Herbst attributes the recent startup buzz to the availability of a new generation of thin, light, high-definition headsets and more powerful GPUs that are unleashing new kinds of immersive experiences. That’s inspiring developers to create new VR applications, he said.

“It’s just like when the iPhone came out,” Herbst said. “At first there were no apps, but very quickly an ecosystem of developers evolved around it.”  

VR isn’t new. But previous head mounted displays were unable to deliver truly immersive experiences. Many believe the technology to do that has now arrived, bringing about what some have called “a virtual reality renaissance.”

How to Sign Up

The VR Showcase is one of many events focusing on virtual reality, which is a main theme of GTC, set for April 4-7, in Silicon Valley. You’ll be able to take part in VR sessions, VR labs, see demos of VR technology and more. You’ll find content at GTC that will help you rethink old ways of looking at digital media, and get you ready to take advantage of what virtual reality can do.

Register for the Emerging Companies Summit today.