Virtual and augmented reality are not sci-fi anymore. Startups devoted to these topics are multiplying fast
You can change the perception of your own reality thanks to augmented and virtual reality. What’s it all about? Virtual reality (VR) completely replaces the actual world with a simulated environment delivered to you through special glasses or a helmet. Users get a 3D experience, which can have invaluable uses in computer games, trainers and simulators etc. Augmented reality (AR) is a combination of real world information supplemented with digital information to complete the picture. It can be used in different cell phone applications, for example if you wanted to see how a new sofa might look in your living room.
Big startup boom
With all this massive potential ahead, the number of startups focused on virtual reality is growing rapidly. According to the company Tracxn, the number of startups focused on VR grew by 109.5% in 2014 compared to 2013. This primarily took off after Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) bought the company Oculus, the maker of VR headsets. Despite this big boom, many people are still largely ignorant regarding the technologies connected to VR or AR. As Frost & Sullivan say, in 2015 76% of people (out of 1,500 respondents) in North America had never heard about the existence of AR. On the other hand, 38% of people who did know AR said they would definitely use products focused on AR if they had a chance.
Tell the customers what they want
Steve Jobs once said: people generally don't know what they want, until you show them something they have never thought about. This is also true for VR and AR technologies, which are still being developed and will take a few more years before they become available to consumers. This means there are still a huge opportunities for entrepreneurs to shape this sector and show people what it is they actually want. Almost any field can be chosen; VR and AR can be used anywhere – the movie industry, education, marketing, travelling, healthcare etc. Fans of these two technologies will gladly support efforts to commercially launch them. This was demonstrated by Tracxn’s statistics: a majority of finance provided to startups for starting their business in VR and AR came from users of VR applications for social networks and game studios.
Up to 150 European leaders in VR
And how is Europe doing in the VR field? According to the company Greenlight VR it is doing really well. In 2015 this company mapped about 150 important and influential European companies focused on virtual reality. These companies come from 20 different countries and their products could be categorized in 18 categories. Greenlight VR uses this data to argue that it is possible to build quality VR companies in Europe and overtake Silicon Valley in this area. According to the Telegraph, virtual reality and artificial intelligence are the strongest European attributes in the field of modern technologies.
Startups taking a gamble on this sector
One such startup, for example, which is trying to bring virtual reality to schools is the Czech company Solirax. Successfully implemented, this step would mean a revolution in teaching and education, which could become much more interactive. Pupils in a biology lesson could manipulate all parts of the human skeleton in virtual reality, and so on. An American startup Magic Leap also focuses on the possibilities offered by virtual reality. This startup claimed a few months ago that it wouldn’t take long for them to replace their company’s traditional computers with virtual displays. To prove it they have published an extraordinary video in which you can see a giant whale emerging from the floor of a school gym. The incredulous looks on students' faces speak for themselves. We can expect to hear about this company in future in relation to augmented reality.
This is how a virtual whale looks like according to Magic Leap:
Virtual and augmented reality is one of the topics of JIC STARCUBE 2016, the longest running Czech accelerator. Startups can apply until 7 August 2016. From 2010 already 72 startups entered JIC STARCUBE. Teams go through three months filled with training, workshops, meetings with mentors and connections to global technology companies. They receive benefits and financial support for testing and prototyping, legal or tax services, marketing and reimbursement of travel and accommodation. Among the successful companies that have gone through the accelerator, are GINA, Reservio or currently one of the fastest growing startups Kiwi (formerly skypicker). For more information about JIC STARCUBE visit www.starcube.cz.