11 VR Startups Tackling Enterprise Applications
If you haven’t tried virtual reality (VR) yet, you so need to. The first time you put on those goggles and start to look around a virtual world in amazement, you can’t help but grin from ear to ear with giddy excitement. Maybe we’re all just complete and total nerds who were raised on the original NES, but we couldn’t get enough of our Oculus even though the whole thing was “buggy” and the content was somewhat lacking. While we think consumer VR is in the “trough of disillusionment” right now, it’s the enterprise space that’s really going to shake things up.
We were recently surprised to see how many interesting VR startups exist in the healthcare industry, and it got us thinking… what other industries and enterprise applications is VR being used to address? Here are some examples of VR startups we came across that are already applying VR to enterprise applications using popular VR headsets like those from Oculus or HTC.
Virtual Reality for Training and Education
The most visible VR training startup lately, STRIVR, was founded by an ex-football coach — Derek Belch — and their technology was originally designed for sports training applications. Founded in 2015, this Silicon Valley startup has taken in $5 million in funding to largely focus on sports training, though recently they signed a deal with Walmart to help train and educate the company’s employees. If you can’t teach people skills in the real world, what makes you think that will be any more effective in the virtual world? Ah yes, lower labor costs by not having to hire so many HR people. Excellent idea.
The main goal of the platform is to track and analyze performance stats for those wearing the system. Ultimately, it’s easy to see how athletic performance can be tracked and analyzed to improve players’ stats. But with enterprise, it’s a different story. Companies like Walmart can use the platform to track performance and stats in sales, operations, customer service, and even human resources. More importantly, the platform can be used to better prepare employees for situations like Black Friday, where hundreds of thousands of shoppers flock to a store during the early-morning hours – and then go absolutely mental shortly afterwards:
Is it possible to learn hand to hand combat in VR one wonders?
Update 10/04/2018: STRIVR has taken in an additional $16 million from a funding round led by GreatPoint Ventures to continue ramping up their team to accommodate the growing demand for their products. This brings the company’s total funding to $21 million to date.
Update 03/31/20: STRIVR has raised $30 million in Series B funding to rapidly accelerate its immersive learning solution in the enterprise market. This brings the company’s total funding to $51 million to date.
Founded in 2001, Australian startup Sentient Computing has managed to bootstrap themselves without having to raise any funding. The Company is developing all kinds of enterprise-related visualizations and simulations. One of the things they offer are game-based training programs to teach and educate workers on safety, such as operating high-voltage switching equipment. The experience in question was built for the HTC Vive and employed two unique motion controllers to give employees a real ‘hand presence’ throughout. It’s more of an interactive or gaming experience, with the underlying goal being to teach the users something about their environment or project. Here’s a look at a training video in action.
Virtual Reality for Architecture
2D designs can help plan a location or structure, but when it comes to actually seeing it in person and realizing the visual space it will take up, there’s always some ambiguity. Founded in 2014, New York startup IrisVR has taken in $15 million in funding for their platform that allows you to see your 3D model in virtual reality almost instantly. There’s also an interface inside the VR environment that lets you quickly jump between viewpoints for your model. The basic version of their software is free so give it a try.
Another New York startup, InsiteVR, has taken in $1.5 million in seed funding to develop a platform that also allows you to view your designs in full-3D with your friends. Imagine experiencing a walkthrough of your actual finished building or design, before it’s created, and then using a virtual laser to point things out to others. It’s used as a design tool to expedite schedules and consequently save costs. It supports all the popular design file formats, and they’re also working on a disposable VR contraption that lets you just use your smartphone. Hopefully, it’s not made of cardboard and only possible to assemble if you have a degree in origami folding. They’re also thinking about getting into real estate, which is a good segue into our next VR enterprise application.
Virtual Reality for Real Estate
While this next startup doesn’t just deal with real estate, their size and penetration lead us to believe they’re probably going to be a leader in this space if not already. Founded in 2010, Silicon Valley startup Matterport has taken in a whopping $61 million in funding so far to enable anyone to create a realistic 3D model of the world around them, in particular, the world of real estate.
Update 03/11/2019: Matterport has taken in their biggest funding round yet, a $48 million Series D round. An article by TechCrunch on the round talks about how Matterport sees themselves as a “data company” and wants to be the leading provider of 3D enclosed images. Total funding Matterport now sits at $114 million.
Update 05/15/20: Matterport has raised nearly $40 million in new venture funding. This brings the company’s total funding to $155 million to date.
They have service partners in every US state and in 80 countries around the world who can help you get a 3D scan of whatever space you need scanned, and they’ve already captured over 500,000 spaces. The key to their success is the Matterport Pro 3D Camera which is “lightning-fast, incredibly easy, and fully automated“:
They’ve also partnered with Google so that owners of “Matterport Spaces” can instant publish them to Google Street View.
Imagine walking through your home in fully immersive 3D. Not a model home. Not a home that looks similar to what you’re getting. Your actual home, before it’s even built. But with a house that’s not built yet, you have to resort to model homes. That’s where Rooomy comes in. Founded in 2010, this startup has taken in $13 million in funding so far to offer “high quality 3D modeling, rendering and virtual staging services“. Interior decorators can use the tool to help clients see what the finished product looks like, home furnishings retailers can let customers “try before you buy”, and real estate agents can use the tool to let clients imagine what an unfinished space might look like when completely decorated.
Virtual Reality for the Office
Most corporate offices are so oppressive and uptight these days that an option to escape into VR sounds like a breath of fresh air. And nowhere in the world is the air fresher and the people more beautiful than in Iceland (unless you happen to be downwind to some fermenting shark that is). Founded in 2014, Icelandic startup MureVR has taken in an undisclosed amount of funding to create a virtual reality-based workspace. It allows you to open pretty much any Windows application in a floating 2D workspace within a digital world. Sounds crazy, right? Wait until you start using it. You can effectively surround yourself with open windows of application. It’s great for multi-tasking especially in hyper-active environments where you need to have multiple projects going at once.
Virtual Reality for E-Commerce
This next startup made it into our recent article on “11 Examples of Grocery Store Technology“. If you like shopping online, then you’re really going to love shopping in virtual worlds. Founded in 2009, Chicago startup InContext Solutions has raised $42.5 million so far from investors that include AMD (NASDAQ:AMD) and Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) to develop virtual reality retail analytics and simulations. Their platform allows companies to create and modify in-store concepts and observe how consumers react to them in realistic VR simulations.
While this technology is used by brick-and-mortar stores to improve store designs, it’s not a far stretch for them to offer up virtual stores next.
Virtual Reality for Advertising
Virtual environments will not seem like the real world unless there are ads plastered all over the place. That’s why Santa Monica startup Vertebrae has taken in $10 million in funding to develop a native advertising platform for VR that lets content producers monetize their content. The term “native” refers to the fact that the ads will integrate seamlessly into VR environments in much the same way they do in the real world. If you want to purchase a Vive to check out what native ads look like, here’s a good deal from HTC (see what we did there?):
MBAs, please take note. There’s a new business case here for a “VR add blocking startup”. You’re welcome.
Virtual Reality for Streaming Video
Remember our article on what real-time VR might look like? Thanks to the HypeVR platform, that vision may soon be a reality. Founded in 2015, Los Angeles startup HypeVR has taken in an undisclosed amount of funding to develop a technology designed to provide ultra-high resolution live-action VR video with complete freedom and interactivity. Imagine those 3D videos where you can swivel the camera in real-time. This is similar, except it’s more akin to being there, in the moment. It offers full 3D reconstruction of an environment or scene and volumetric video streaming in high-quality.
Virtual Reality for… Adult Entertainment?
Is porn an industry? Only an industry worth $13-20 billion dollars with about half of that money coming from good old US of A. While there’s some quality porn to be had for free – or so we’ve heard – apparently people pay a lot of money for this stuff. Founded in 2014, San Jose startup DoubleMe has taken in $825,000 to develop a platform that scans you into any virtual world. DoubleMe isn’t quite getting into porn, but flirting with the edges according to this article by Tech in Asia:
Once we open the studio in Tokyo, we’re gonna focus on cosplayers. We’ll gradually approach other potential content creators such as maid cafe girls in Akihabara and hosts in Kabukicho,” he says. “Porn companies want nudity, but VCs don’t want to hear that. The maximum we’re willing to go, at this stage, would be gravure idols in bikinis.”
The idea is that you can walk into their HoloPortal and then shortly afterwards you’re transported into virtual reality as a (hopefully clothed) avatar. Isn’t the future great?
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