HTC is all-in on the Vive virtual reality headset, and it is investing heavily in the companies that it is shepherding through its Vive X accelerator locations in San Francisco, Taipei, Shenzhen, and Beijing. Cher Wang, cofounder and chairperson of HTC, showed that commitment to VR at an event today, where the company showed off the first 20 startups that are going through its Vive X accelerator.
“This is something that we never dreamed about, that I would be changing the world with every one of you,” Wang said.
Marc Metis, global head of Vive X at HTC, also said that the company is moving boldly into investments in hardware, software, and services related to VR and augmented reality (AR). HTC has committed to investing more than $100 million in Vive X companies. He said that HTC received more than 1,200 applications for its first batch of accelerator companies this year. Nearly 40 companies have been accepted in the first batch, and HTC will be launching another batch of startups in February.
HTC will also host demo days next week in Beijing and Taipei for other companies in the program. More than 100 venture capitalists and media were at the event on Wednesday in San Francisco.
“We are still looking for ecosystem boosters, a force multiplier whose success can lead to other company successes,” Metis said. “We are also looking for pain point solvers.”
Here’s an overview of the 20 companies that presented:
- Kaleidoscope: A photorealistic rendering company that makes tools to create imagery in VR. It can be used for a wide range of applications, such as architectural or product visualization.
- Apmetrix: This company makes analytics for VR, so that you can see how many people looked at an ad or a particular part of a VR experience.
- Immersv: It is an ad network for VR, enabling companies to make money from advertisements in VR. Christine Lee of Immersv said that engagement numbers for VR ads run at 30 percent to 40 percent, or far higher than the 1 percent on mobile and 0.4 percent on desktop. Video ads show a 70 percent completion rate in VR, she said, far higher than on other platforms. Her company is working with companies across the board such as Warner Bros., Lionsgate, Gree, MZ, and Element Games.
- BreqLabs: The company has created a way to use ultrasonic sensors to detect your hand movements so that you can bring in your hands and fingers into VR and use them as control mechanisms. CEO Martin Labrecque said the company is raising a round of $600,000.
- SurrealVR: Arthur Goikhman, cofounder of SurrealVR, said his company has created a drop-in social VR framework that can make any VR experience social. SurrealVR comes with cross-platform support for avatars, voice chat, networked gameplay and physics, shopping and more. The company has more than 100,000 users so far, and it is profitable. It is also raising $5 million.
- Fulldive: It has created a smartphone-based VR navigation and content discovery platform. The vision is to make VR accessible to everyone, said CEO Giovanno Yosen Utomo. The company launched its platform for sorting through VR apps in January 2015, and it has been downloaded 2.5 million times. It has about 500,000 active users a month and 20,000 installs per day.
- Oben: The company has created a way to build personalized social avatars for AR and VR. Based in Los Angeles, its mission is to convert VR from a lonely experience to a social one. You customize your appearance, change your hair, and create something that you won’t be embarrassed about when you go into a business meeting in VR.
- Teemew: This is another startup creating a VR meeting solution in the hopes of eliminating travel costs and promoting real-time collaboration.
- LumiereVR: Cofounder Travis Wu named the company after the Lumiere brothers, who pioneered film. He wants to do the same for VR films. The company has in-house filmmaking technology and access to artists who want to create new kinds of films. The company will distribute its films through the distribution channels of its Chinese partners.
- Clevr: This is another company creating a social layer in VR. Clevr wants to unite your social across all devices, including VR, and add a layer of discovery through various viral channels. CEO Japheth Dillman said you’ll be able to join friends in content apps, chat in a VR room, and discover new apps.
- Metaverse Channel: This company has created an interactive educational platform that utilizes VR’s immersive technology to accelerate learning. Its mission is to inspire and educate the minds of today by resurrecting the greatest minds from the past. It will have things like virtual field tips and tutorials.
- Shortfuse Game Studios: This company is making a shooter game so you can have firefights in VR arcades (aka VRcades). Shortfuse wants to create shooter games that will become esports crazes in VR.
- AppMagics: AppMagics is a mixed-reality content generation and interactive platform with VR live streaming. The company is in 140,000 Internet cafes.
- Augmented Intelligence: CEO Sam Jang said he wants to create acupuncture in VR. Augmented Intelligence is all about fostering the medical platform in acupuncture and human anatomy. The goal is to provide better understanding and treatment of human bodies through virtual training and simulation from medical partners.
- Metaverse Technology: CEO Steve Hsia said his team loves “guns and VR tech.” The company is taking “shooting sports” such as Airsoft, paintball, and gun-range shooting to VR. He noted the U.S. has big audiences for shooting sports, gun ownership, and first-person shooters, and his startup hopes to unify all of those markets through both single-player and multiplayer competitions.
- Directive Games: The company is creating online competitive multiplayer games for VR.
- Drop: This startup provides a 3D and immersive Internet search experience for virtual users.
- Fishbowl VR: The company provides crowdsourced testing and user insights to help content creators figure out what works and what doesn’t in virtual reality.
- Lyra VR: It provides an innovative and fantastical way to create, perform, and immerse oneself in music, allowing for VR music creation with “visual symphonies” and collaboration to popular media devices.
- Opaque Studios: This combines the two most exciting fields in tech and Hollywood — VR and virtual production — to enable directors of feature films, episodic TV, games, and VR to visualize virtual performances with the immediacy of live action.