TechCrunch is heading to UCLA on October 18 and we’ve assembled some of the AR/VR industry’s most prescient founders, investors and executives to chat about the startups and trends driving virtual and augmented reality in 2018.
The world’s top tech companies have heavily invested in AR/VR and are persistent in broadcasting the technologies’ potential to blur the lines of how consumers interact with the digital world. Beyond the tech titans, it’s the small startups that are dialing into what’s missing in the ecosystem right now. Our agenda showcases some of the powerhouses in the space, but also plenty of smaller teams that are building and debunking fundamental technologies for virtual worlds.
We still have a few tricks up our sleeves and will be adding some new names to the agenda over the next month so keep your eyes open. In the meantime, check out these agenda highlights:
TechCrunch Sessions: AR/VR
UCLA, Los Angeles // October 18
See full agenda here
- Kickstarting an Industry
Yelena Rachitsky [Oculus]
Oculus has pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into funding VR content, and while the headset market is still small, developers have built plenty of games and experiences. Facebook’s VR future rests on people finding new worlds that they want to step into, how will Oculus make this happen?
- The Social Experiment
Adam Arrigo [TheWaveVR], Sophia Dominguez [SVRF] and Gil Baron [Mindshow]
If anything, the OculusVR acquisition in 2014 signaled that Facebook saw VR as a social final frontier. No one really knows what exactly those interactions looks like though, but there’s an awful lot that’s already been explored.
- Reality Checks
Niko Bonatsos [General Catalyst], Catherine Ulrich [FirstMark Capital] and Jacob Mullins [Shasta Ventures]
“[VR] is the frothiest space in the Valley right now. Nobody understands it but everyone wants in. Any idiot could walk into a f***ing room, utter the letters ‘V’ and ‘R’, and VCs would hurl bricks of cash at them.” – Erlich Bachmann. While this may have indeed been the case a couple years ago, investor cash has been a bit sparser in 2018. Where are the opportunities now?
- Staying Lean and Mean
Maureen Fan [Baobab Studios]
Baobab Studios has raised $31 million from top investors to create cinematic VR that excites audiences. While VR startups raised plenty of cash in 2016 and 2017, slow headset sales have caused startups to focus on building for a virtual future that might take a couple more years to reach.
- Cloud 6
Matt Miesnieks [6D.ai] and Bruce Wooden [6D.ai]
AR is out there, but the experiences available today are still feeling pretty isolated. 6D.ai is building out cloud AR tech to link these experiences together on a digital layer of the real world.
- Ditching Headsets for Holograms
Shawn Frayne [Looking Glass Factory], Brett Jones [Lightform] and Ashley Crowder [VNTANA]
Augmented reality may be a powerful sight, but it requires participants to own expensive hardware. Is there a workaround? Startups are working to centralize the experience but it’s going to look a lot different.
- Game Theory
Nathan Burba [Survios] and James Iliff [Survios]
While VR might not just be about gaming, it’s accurate to say that, in 2018, it mainly is. Survios has raised nearly $55M to show the potential of VR gaming, as the studio continue releasing new titles, can they keep their momentum going and will gaming continue to be the big opportunity?
- Early Days, Early Bets
Peter Rojas [Betaworks] other speakers to be announced soon
Fewer AR/VR startups seem to be raising big seed rounds in 2018, but how have early-stage investors changed their approach to funding new talent in the space? How should founders get their attention?
- Building Inclusive Worlds
Monika Bielskyte [AllFutureEverything] other speakers to be announced soon
If you had the chance to redesign society, where would you even start? As game developers continue designing massive online virtual worlds where we will spend more and more time, how should we look to correct issues we encounter and how can we build a better future?
- Augmenting the Office
Clorama Dorvilias [DebiasVR] and Derek Belch [STRIVR] and Morgan Mercer [Vantage Point]
How can businesses learn from mistakes before making them? By training employees with VR, there’s the potential to more accurately simulate key scenarios and push people towards good choices.
- Your Virtual Self
Parham Aarabi [ModiFace] other speakers to be announced soon
Smartphone AR is already in your pocket, but what can consumers actually use it for? While Snapchat face filters took us half-way there, new tech is making it easier for us to augment our faces with real world use cases while also getting closer to building out realistic avatars of our virtual selves.
Early Bird tickets are still on sale for one more week. Buy your early bird tickets today for just $99 and you’ll save $100 before prices go up. Student tickets are just $45. Book your tickets here.