Why I’m Excited About XTech & XR
It seems like every day there’s a new form of digital reality. Virtual. Augmented. Mixed. Lightweight. Just this week, VR Digest coined the term “XR” to encompass all of these technologies, and I think the name aptly fits.
XR is part of a broader movement of new technologies improving human performance and experiences. Experiential technology (“XTech” for short) refers to opportunities emerging at the intersection of hardware, biosensors, AI and neuroscience. I’ve been spending the last few months at Techstars building our strategy around XTech and human-computer interaction, and have been blown away by the conversations happening in this category.
I’m particularly fascinated by XTech’s potential to democratize experience and performance across massive industries including entertainment, health & wellness, learning and enterprise.
Experiential entertainment aims to improve the way we experience life and derive enjoyment. Technologies in this space are leveraging XR to provide compelling multi-sensory experiences to consumers. Imagine people in markets around the world having access to life-like experiences in travel, live music, sports and remote areas of nature. Imagine immersive news and storytelling with the potential to convey empathy and compassion like never before, at a time our society needs it more than ever.
Advances in brain-computer and muscle-computer interfaces are creating new frontiers in cognitive and physical performance. EMG biomechanical analyses have the potential to enhance physical capabilities and prevent injuries for manual workers and athletes — professional and recreational alike. Brain EEG sensors and neurosignaling tools have the potential to improve cognitive function and mental health for every person on the planet.
VR immersive learning environments are providing realistic training simulations to effectively prepare professionals operating in high-risk situations, such as military, medicine, and first responders. VR simulations for public speaking and professional sports games are preparing presenters and athletes for high-stakes performances. In the workplace, visual collaboration tools imagined in Hollywood movies such as Minority Report are now fully functioning in board rooms. Social robots are now in homes and hotels assisting people with service needs and safety monitoring.
While many of these solutions require significant investment or access to high-end research labs, I am passionate about making these technologies accessible to mass consumer markets. For this to be possible, costs need to be drastically reduced across the entire value chain. To this end, I am very interested in enabling infrastructure plays including compression, data storage, battery efficiency and streaming technologies. Alternative consumption models, such as location-based activations and VR arcades will also help bring these technologies into the hands of more people.
At the forefront of the XTech movement is JAZZ Venture Partners, a San Francisco-based VC firm dedicated to unlocking human potential. JAZZ coined the term XTech and has been an indispensible thought leader for my own musings and explorations in this category. JAZZ recently led the Series B round of my favorite experiential entertainment company, Two Bit Circus, also a Techstars Ventures portfolio company.
JAZZ also organizes the XTech Expo, the world’s leading experiential technology conference. This year’s conference will take place March 14–15 in San Francisco. The conference schedule is stacked with innovation leaders across VR, film, gaming, human performance, and more. I’m emceeing the Expo’s Startup Showcase and incredibly excited to demo new XTech experiences.
If you’re like me and eager to participate in the conversation around how XTech will shape the future of humanity, let’s connect! Tweet me @larajeremko with your favorite XTech startup idea and I’ll send you a discount registration code.