The videogame industry is fairly dominated by men and virtual reality (VR) companies are no different. One organisation trying to change this is Women Who Tech, a national US nonprofit working in partnership with Craig Newmark. Today its announced the 10 finalists selected for its fourth Women Startup Challenge pitch competition, aimed at showcasing and funding women-led startups working in the areas of virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI).
Co-sponsored by startup investors Fred and Joanne Wilson, the competition will award $50,000 USD as a cash grant, $35,000 in pro bono legal services by global law firm Paul Hastings, LLP, among other startup services.
The 10 finalists, hailing from California, Massachusetts, New York and Texas,are set to appear together on 15th February, at Google’s New York campus in Chelsea. One of these will be selected as a grand prize winner during the course of a “shark-tank style” competition.
“We received close to 200 entries from women-led startups who are at the forefront of VR and AI. These ventures are building virtual limbs, self-driving non-automotive vehicles, 3-D immersive cameras, drone technologies and wearable tech for gaming. It’s vitally important that women and their companies get properly supported so that their perspective on these life changing products is brought to market,” said Allyson Kapin, founder of Women Who Tech.
“The creativity and accomplishment of a lot of women in this highly technical field is impressive,” said craigslist founder Newmark. “The startup challenge is about matching opportunity with talent. It’s about opening doors. We can’t make that happen fast enough.”
Checkout the full finalist details below, and check back with VRFocus for the results.
Women Startup Challenge Finalists
Addicaid – A digital addiction wellness platform for individuals with substance and process disorders, as well as for friends and family coping with loved ones in care. Addicaid is a dashboard for treatment centers and insurance companies to facilitate care delivery in an organized, intelligent, cost-effective manner. Cofounder Pitching, Sam Frons (Brooklyn, NY)
Breinify – The first time-driven, predictive AI engine for uncovering unique and actionable user behavior insights. Their technology blends traditional machine learning and AI techniques with a complex temporal foundation so their engine learns, reacts, and makes extremely granular intelligent decisions that vary for each individual at any time enabling ROI at scale. Cofounder Pitching, Diane Keng (Cupertino, CA)
Didimo – Automatically creates 3D virtual characters from a single photo; in about 2 minutes you have a lifelike avatar that can speak, move, and represent you in a 3D world. Platform agnostic and compatible with all 3D environments, their technology can be used in games, social media, film, AR, and VR. Cofounder Pitching, Veronica Orvalho (Clayton, CA)
Droice Labs – Artificial intelligence startup in the healthcare space using cutting-edge machine learning to help hospitals achieve better patient outcomes. Cofounder Pitching, Tasha Nagamine (NY, NY)
Hauoli LLC – Revolutionizing how users interact with the world, Hauoli is developing patent-pending high-precision acoustic-based motion tracking technology. The technology will enable VR/AR users to easily interact with objects in the scene. Cofounder Pitching, Lili Qiu (Austin, TX)
Hitlist – An intelligent assistant that monitors flight and accommodation prices for trips you want to take, then alerts you when prices drop. Using a combination of machine learning, social and expert recommendations, Hitlist recreates the old school travel agent experience while saving you 50%+ on your bookings. Cofounder Pitching, Gillian Morris (NY, NY)
Intelligent Space – Developing artificial intelligence for space applications by leveraging autonomous robotics to restructure space for satellite safety from orbital debris starting with a space towing system moving dead satellites to a graveyard zone. Cofounder Pitching, Christianna Taylor, PhD (Moffett Field, CA)
Opaque Studios – Building VR-based tools for Hollywood studios; combining Virtual Reality and Virtual Production; allowing content creators to produce feature films, TV shows, games and VR applications more efficiently than ever before. Cofounder Pitching, Mariana Acuña (Los Angeles, CA)
Spirit AI – Developing tools to craft more expressive characters, stories, and worlds in games and VR; players can communicate naturally with characters, be deeply understood, and have unique conversations. With this technology, they’re also combating online harassment in multiplayer video games. Cofounder Pitching, Mitu Khandaker-Kokoris (NY, NY)
Venti Technologies – Building non-automotive autonomous vehicles such as wheelchairs, golf carts, tractors, scooters and shuttles to give freedom and mobility to tens of millions of seniors and mobility-impaired people, and provide life-enhancing cost-effective, transportation for everyone. Cofounder Pitching, Heidi Wyle (Weston, MA)