VR & AR Highlights In TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2017

Some notes and thoughts for some VR & AR startups

Will Hsu
Will Hsu
May 20, 2017 · 6 min read

TechCrunch Disrupt was a three days conference and it included a lot of panel talks, startup pitches, and also a competition — Startup Battle field. This week TechCrunch Disrupt was back to New York city, and I was really excited about attending the event for some disruption and seeing all new, cool stuff in the tech industry.

The conference had a Startup Alley where hundreds of early-stage companies showcasing what they’re doing now to attendees, investors and press. The Startup Alley had covered a wide range of fields of startups, including Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning, E-Commerce, FinTech, Media, Gaming, Biotech, Virtual Reality(VR), Augmented Reality(AR), and more. Since I am more focusing on VR and AR recently, studying for my Master degree in Integrated Digital Media at NYU, I paid more attention to startups and companies working with those technology, and I would like to share some of my thoughts and takeaways.

The Startup Alley changed some categories throughout three days, and I was a little surprised there did not have that many VR, AR companies showcasing in TechCrunch Disrupt as I expected. The majority would be Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning which is another hot topic in the industry.

I went to talk to those startups and tried out their product, many of them are pretty cool, but not all of them were that impressive to be honest. Some ideas would be better if polished more, and some of them were still in their early stage. I believe the potential and possibility for both VR and AR are still huge, since the technology of them are getting better and lots of tech big players are investing more resources on them, like what Facebook announced in F8, and this week’s Google I/O 17’s announcement.


The Startup Alley had many different pavilions, and here’s VR and AR pavilion, which was showcased in the first day of TechCrunch Disrupt NY 17.

The Startup Alley, VR & AR Pavilion

REALVU

Customers need to send the sample products to REALVU, and within several days, they will get links and embedded HTML code which they can use to deploy 3D contents online easily. The users could see the products in different angles with really good resolution.

Beside enhancing the web browsing experience for the products, what I thought about was using this technology, we could easily get 3D models assets for VR and AR, and that would be a lot helpful for developing VR and AR experience.

toii

Toii created location based AR mobile game for better travel experience, and exploring the city. They based in Taiwan, New York and San Fransisco.

I think AR is a good way for providing more information, and giving people unexpected experience. What Toii’s trying to do is collaborting with local retail stores and shops, and they could provide some benefits for both the users and the stores, like giving out some coupons.

My questions would be how much advantages could the stores receive from this model, and what would the main drive for the users to keep playing, is there going to have any narrative throughout the experience? Also, deciding what to display in AR is another issue. If showing some infromation in AR which could easily be done in QR code or physical thing, then why people need to use AR instead. The team’s developing their service in New York now, and I’m looking forward to what it would be like, and willing to try it out when it launches.

Spaceout VR

Spaceout VR is an application for social, playing games, videos in VR. Their mission is to join forces to build the greatest Space Colony in Virtual Reality. I think the mission’s a little bit too ambitious to cover so many aspects at one time, thus it would be less focusing on what’s the main goal for the application.

My suggest would be working on each features step by step, and user testing more before putting more features on the application. Also, maybe working on both UI and UX design part more would make it more attractive and intuitive to people.

jeju 360

JeJU TOVR 360 is an application for seeing tour spots in 360 video. Users can search place by 4 categories and hashtag which stimulate their emotion. Also, users could switch different scenes easliy by clicking the virtual dot in the scene.

I am not sure what further features they are planning to add, so far this seems like putting a lot of 360 views of traveling places together. Perhaps adding more interaction in the environment, like if pressing some buttons would trigger some events or providing more information about the tour spots would be more interesting.

lyra VR

LyraVR is a virtual reality platform that lets users compose, perform and share musical compositions in 3D environment. The users could create loops, hand place and tune the sounds in space.

I really enjoyed playing lyra VR, and it was kind of cool that they tried to visualize the audio and developed such musical composition environment in VR. The thing I thought was that users might need some time to learn how to play in the VR musical composition environment. They have provided the tutorial before using it, but the whole experience’s still a little complex, and sometime I did not know what should I do next when playing it.

Overall, I think this would be a lot of fun, and creating and plating music in VR would be really interesting.

Envrmnt, verizon labs

Envrmnt is under Verizon labs and they are developing platforms for creating VR and AR applications in advertising, digital media, professional sports and retail. They are trying to build tools to enable people to create an immersive application, which I think this would be an important thing for VR and AR. I did not see how the platform work, but I tried an application developed in their platform and was pretty good.

For me, developing platforms for VR and AR would be really helpful, but there are a lot of things needed to be covered and taking care. People are still exciting to experience VR and AR now, but does that mean we need to have such developing platforms immediately, or should we keep pushing the technology and try to develop more useful and interesting applications.


Those were the startups I’ve checked about VR and AR during the TechCrunch Disrupt NY this year, and interestingly, I did not really see any panel talks about VR and AR, which I was a little disappointed. Overall, the three-day conference was still worthy and brought me a better understanding of what most startups are working on right now.

Will Hsu

Written by

Will Hsu

UX/UI Designer. VR/AR Content Producer. | @willhsu7 | http://www.willhsu7.info

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