South Korea is a hotbed for VR. Between the country’s major hardware tech brands (think Samsung, LG) and a seriously well-funded culture industry that includes K-pop and Korean TV dramas, South Korea his primed for the technical and content requirements of next generation VR.
The country’s entertainment industry has also spawned a thriving grassroots startup scene dedicated to improving the VR experience. Here are just seven of those virtual reality startups, who joined us at our 2016 TechCrunch Shanghai, giving us a glimpse into South Korean VR innovations.
Binary VR’s technology recognizes facial expressions in real time and renders them as a 3D avatars in virtual reality. The Silicon Valley-based company was chosen by VR-specialized accelerator BoostVC and received $400,000 USD in seed funding from K-Cube Ventures. The company has a partnership with social VR platform company High Fidelity, which was founded by Second Life founder Philip Rosedale.
Jihun Yu, CEO of Binary VR, isa real-time facial expression tracking technology developer who previously developed similar technology while working for US-based Lucasfilm, where he worked on facial expressions for films including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Transformers.
GAUDIO LAB makes immersive and interactive 360-degree audio solutions for VR games and content. Part of their experience includes allowing users to hear sounds from specific directions while using VR headsets, with their Head Related Transfer Function (HRTF). The company was seed funded $1 million in July 2015 by SoftBank Ventures Korea and Capstone Partners.
Reality Reflection developed a 3D video production system called “Reality Reflection” that creates 3D human avatars using facial scans, full body scans, and 3D video capture. The company uses a single depth camera or multiple DSLR cameras to create hologram-like VR content, which can be viewed on the web, mobile VR devices, and VR head-mounted devices.
JW NEST is VR content developer that creates virtual love simulation games and social video games. Since shooting and adventure games can causeVR nausea and sickness, the company focuses on virtual love simulation games and social video games, which users can enjoy while seated.
Macrograph makes VR narrative content for games and film, which can be watched through a mobile VR headset. The Beijing-based company has produced visual effects and CGI for films like The Forbidden Kingdom and The Restless.
SKONEC is the content developer behind Mortal Blitz VR, a gun shooting game which can now be found on Oculus’ store. The company recently signed an MOU with Chinese VR company 3Glasses to expand to China market. Seoul-based company plans to launch its game Mortal Blitz Paly station version in October.
Polariant makes mobile-based VR motion controllers that track movement using light polarization. Inspired by the homing mechanism of ants, Polariant invented a 3D positioning and orientation sensor technology based on light polarization. While HTC Vive’s controller requires a desktop PC and a wider space to install sensors, Polariant’s VR motion controller is compatible with mobile devices. The company also aims to provide its motion controllers at an affordable price under $50 USD.
Image Credit: TechNode, Polariant, D.CAMP, SKONEC