14 Virtual and Augmented Reality projects emerging from NYC Media Lab this spring

New startups and prototypes are paving the way for VR/AR innovation in media, communications, architecture and beyond

NYC Media Lab
Mar 1, 2017 · 6 min read

This spring NYC Media Lab is driving virtual and augmented reality entrepreneurship and prototype development. Projects with Member Companies such as A+E Networks, MLB Advanced Media, and Verizon are delivering new ideas and prototypes, and NYC Media Lab’s Combine accelerator program is now at its midpoint mark, with startup teams validating their VR/AR concepts ranging from media and gaming to architecture and construction.

A total of 14 VR/AR prototypes, applications and startups have emerged from NYC Media Lab programming this spring, representing more than $300,000 in investment in early stage concepts. Read on for more details:

NYC Media Lab Combine: Startups

Six teams in NYC Media Lab’s Combine program are focused on virtual and augmented reality applications.

Acculis, from NYU School of Engineering, is developing software for the construction industry to facilitate the transfer of information between designers and construction workers. At a construction site, a user can use their phone or tablet and to visualize the design plan for that area of the project. This gives users an immediate understanding of the job they are expected to complete, and can help minimize issues that may arise during construction.

Geopipe, from NYU Courant, builds immersive virtual models of the real world, saving the time and expense of manual creation. Professionals in a wide variety of fields, such as architecture and urban design, need context models of the real world for design, visualization, and 3D printing. Geopipe creates intelligent algorithms to automatically reconstruct highly detailed virtual world models that these professionals can download and use instantly.

AWOL, a startup team out of the School of Media Studies at The New School, is an AR platform that transforms cities into galleries. For brands and businesses, AWOL is a powerful tool designed to capture the local consumer. The platform can be used across multiple industries to bring brands to life through guided tours and interactive content. It helps brands reach their customers in the ideal target context by uncovering the times, places and moments when their messages resonate best.

Myx is a prototyping and planning tool that helps with the development of virtual reality environments, allowing content creators to quickly draw scenes, collaborate, and get feedback for their projects. Myx will empower VR content creators to focus on their ideas and avoid being caught up in the technicalities of the medium. Myx was started by a team of graduate students at NYU ITP.

Semblance AR is a mobile application that allows users to record and play back videos in 3D and view them with augmented reality. Semblance was started by faculty and students at NYU Tandon School of Engineering.

Toii gamifies the travel experience with an AR location-based game. Tourists can explore attractions and collect landmarks to win rewards from local business. Toii was started by NYU Game Center graduates.


Eight teams in the Verizon Connected Futures program and in project collaborations with A+E Networks and MLB Advanced Media are generating prototypes in virtual and augmented reality.

Blend is a prototyping tool to curate Mixed Reality content and experiences onto 3D objects. Advertisers can scan an object to have Mixed Reality rendered around and easily manage and quickly prototype 3D content or traditional media to display in Mixed Reality. Blend is a project from Cornell Tech and Parsons School of Design graduate students in the Verizon Connected Futures program.

BallpARk is a mobile application that enhances Major League Baseball’s Ballpark app by adding augmented reality features to create a more interactive in-game experience. The app looks to use nascent technology to engage fans, allowing them to experience their favorite landmarks in ballparks across the country while maintaining the integrity and atmosphere of the game. Created by an NYU ITP student, BallpARk was the Grand Prize Winner in the recent MLB Advanced Media Hackathon.

Kiwi is a mobile application for physical textbooks that enhances the reading experience for high school students. By scanning their physical textbooks, students can highlight, share, add notes, and watch videos, creating a more immersive learning experience. Kiwi is a project of graduate students at Columbia University and the School of Visual Arts in the Verizon Connected Futures program.

Zer is an news platform for teenagers in virtual reality, which will teach them how to spot fake news. 70% of teenagers struggle to distinguish between real and fake news; Zer aims to create social change through play, by increasing digital literacy and encouraging critical thought regarding information consumption online. Zer is a project by two undergraduate students at The New School that is part of the Verizon Connected Futures program.

A Constellation Guide to the Sixth Extinction is a web VR data visualization of the most recent episode of mass extinction. While inside the experience, the audience may explore a 3D constellation map of all extinct, endangered or vulnerable species, and get information on historical facts of each species and classification. This experience aims to educate an audience on the scope and cause of mass extinction, and to provide resources for them to get involved in conservation efforts. The project is from the Parsons MFA Design & Technology program and is part of the A+E Digital Media Storytelling Fellowship.

Calling Thunder tells the unsung history of New York through spacial audio and mobile VR. Users are transported through a series of interactive soundscapes that compare today’s urban cacophony to the vibrant ecosystems Henry Hudson would have encountered in 1609. The narrative addresses Manhattan’s social significance as a reflection of its ecological past. This project is from the School of Visual Arts and is part of the A+E Digital Media Storytelling Fellowship.

VillageLIVE celebrates queer community in the ways that it shapes and is shaped by public space in New York City. Using Nelson Sullivan’s video archive to design an augmented reality walking tour, past narratives come back to life in the streets where prominent figures of the city’s queer history once flourished. Nelson’s videos provide a glimpse into the importance of public spaces to the queer community, such as the West Village, the Chelsea Piers, and Tompkins Square Park. This project is from NYU ITP and is part of the A+E Digital Media Storytelling Fellowship.

You Are Here is a location-based app that transports users back in time by offering a virtual window into New York City’s past. Imagine aiming your smartphone at any spot in the city, and becoming immersed in 360 photoscapes of different eras, enhanced by facts about what you’re looking at. You Are Here gives people a sense of their place in the city’s history by telling stories underscoring NYC’s constant transformation. This project is from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and is part of the Verizon Connected Futures program.

For more information, contact Alexis Avedisian, NYC Media Lab Communications Manger: alexis@nycmedialab.org

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NYC Media Lab connects university researchers and NYC’s media tech companies to create a new community of digital media & tech innovators in New York City.