See the original story in Japanese.
Tokyo VR Startups, the startup incubator focusing on VR (Virtual Reality) that is organized by Japanese mobile game developer Gumi (TSE:3903) of Japan, held last month a Demo Day for its 2nd batch in Tokyo. It became a big event with nine participant teams; four teams from the incubation 2nd batch, four teams from the Korean startup incubator Seoul VR Startups which has special ties with Tokyo VR Startups, and a team from The Venture Reality Fund (The VR Fund) in which Gumi is also invested.
In this article, I introduce in particular the four Japanese startup teams.
Tokyo-based Cover, which recently made a pitch regarding a VR game “Ping Pong League” at Tech Lab Paak 7th batch Demo Day, appeared this time with another product under the same name of Cover. It is the VR distribution platform enabling users to remake (“cover”) songs or dances attained with a combination of live distribution and animation. With this platform, users with head-mounted display can perform as getting into animation characters in the virtual space.
Speaking of VR games, “Summer Lesson” launched by Bandai Namco has been well received in Japan. In China, YY Music is focusing on live streaming services. The Cover team expects its business model in line with the subscriptions system from audiences as with Showroom provided by Japan’s DeNA, so that distributed videos are available to browse on PC or smartphone in addition to head-mounted display.
In the future, the team aims to add various functions, such as editing hair style or costume of animation characters, setting 360-degree video or photos photographed by users as the background image, or sharing captured images in the game streaming or the white boards.
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In the days of the pager/beeper, people communicated using numbers, symbols and texts. As devices have evolved from the feature phone to the smartphone, communication methods have changed into a richer style, says Shunichi Takeshita who is CEO of Gatari and the first representative of the VR user society UT-virtual at the University of Tokyo. Gatari strives to create communication methods and devices in the MR (Mixed Reality) era, and aims to realize it in the VR world in advance.
Gatari images that send voice messages in actual spaces will become common by replacing today’s conventional text typing as a communication method in the VR, the AR (Augmented Reality) and the MR era. As a first step during this incubation term, the team completed technology development such as text input by voice recognition, translated output into the conversation partner’s language and keyword auto-extractor in conversation. In the future, the team aims to develop a view-sharing function with a communication partner.
HoloEyes aims to make an information revolution in the medical field using VR. Its technology will be helpful for the medical world by sharing information of human bodies in 3DVR form. The medical VR database will be constructed through collection of CT scan data and forming 3D human body models, then accumulating these.
If a search on the terms “male, 60s, prostate cancer” is made, 3D images of matched cases will be output. Doctors can utilize them for diagnosis references of similar cases or training upon surgical operations. The team expects a business model providing VR viewers for hospitals and selling collected data after obtaining patients’ consent to medical colleges or pharmaceutical companies.
JollyGood was founded by Kensuke Joji, who had originally worked in the TV broadcaster industry and been involved in producing events such as Wearable Tech Expo held in Tokyo, and last year launched the VR solution named GuruVR Media Pro for the television program production industry. By 2019, simultaneous broadcasting in terrestrial network / Internet by television stations will be commenced in Japan and Joji expects that television will become a device to experience, not just to watch. On the other hand, there was no system to easily introduce VR content into television programs and that triggered him to develop this solution.
The business model of GuruVR Media Pro consists of the initial cost including installation and installation lecture charges and the running cost corresponding to quantities of content as well as downloads of CMS (Content Management System) which is required for VR content distribution. The team explains that VR content can be easily linked up with lands or spaces, and is compatible with local television stations. Viewers can handily try the content provided by television stations they are familiar with, and it will be differentiated by enabling them to have a “pseudo- experience” of various locations where common citizens are forbidden to enter.
In addition, JollyGood has been developing AI (Artificial Intelligence) services to determine automatically what is the image displayed in VR space. This February, the firm agreed to a business tie-up with UK-based Boris FX which develops Mocha, the post-production tool for VR content that prevents VR sickness. Collaborating Boris FX with a network of million VR engineers and the AI services developed by JollyGood, they plan to announce a launch of new services at the world’s biggest convention for visionary technologies, the NAB Show, held in Las Vegas on April 25th.
Incidentally, JollyGood had fundraised one million yen (about $900,000) from Gumi in August of 2016.
At Slush Tokyo 2017 held in Tokyo last month, Gumi announced that it will commence Nordic VR Startups through a joint venture with Nordic Film, while Gumi has currently been providing VR startup incubation through Tokyo VR Startups and Seoul VR Startups.
Denmark-based Nordic Film is running a business focused on movie production, movie theater management and PlayStation distribution in Northern Europe. Nordic VR Startups provides 100,000 euro at most to startups from the Northern European region and encourages prototyping of VR products, as well as providing technical assistance and business support.
Prior to this, Gumi had also announced a cooperation with the Belgium-based VR developer community EUVR this January. Tokyo VR Startups started accepting applications for its incubation program 3rd batch, and the application deadline is May 14th.
Translated by Taijiro Takeda
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy