The UK has always been renowned as a hub for creative excellence and as these technologies develop, and, once again it’s leading the way in digital innovation. Across the regions and nations of the UK, there are centres of excellence, such as:
Northern Ireland hosts Belfast, a “tech city of the future”
The North East, with 5 catapult centres
Scotland, with its strong links to the gaming industry
Manchester/North West, host a variety of production and post production facilities, such as MediaCity
With this strong commercial industry, combined with the research and development opportunities found in world leading universities, the UK’s VR and AR focussed startups are some of the best in the world. Carry on reading below for 10 of the fastest growing.
The 10 fastest growing VR Startups in the UK
Virti is a digital training platform that was formed in 2018 by a former trauma surgeon. The goal was, and is, to revolutionise training by using cutting edge VR technology to provide high quality solutions. Noticing a gap in the market for training in high stress roles, for example a surgeon, Virti produced a radical and effective new approach. Their platform combines desktops, mobile devices and VR headsets to measure performance and produce metrics that companies and individuals can use to improve and develop outcomes.
Organisations also have the option of creating their own simulations using Virti’s no-code development suite.
Online training and elearning has become the default solution for many employers during the Covid-19 pandemic. Virti is well positioned to differentiate itself from desktop based training solutions, which can often be uninspiring and have low engagement.
Poplar.studio provides a platform that allows companies to access AR that creates experiences and marketing campaigns. This can be as simple as uploading a 2D image to the platform and allowing the creative design team to turn it into an AR model.
Retailers of all kinds are incorporating VR and AR into the shopping experience. Examples of this can include everything from a virtual test drive to virtually trying on clothes. The benefit to customers is the ability to essentially ‘try before you buy’, with products not traditionally accessible. These types of solutions can expand a retailers' market reach, whilst making premium products more widely available.
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Ultraleap was formed from the merging of Leap Motion and Ultrahaptics. Which is a combination of advanced hand tracking and sophisticated haptics technologies.
Offering spatial interaction solutions, Ultraleap provides unparalleled hand-tracking accuracy and ‘virtual touch’, creating the sensation of touch in mid-air using haptics. Through touchless interfaces that can be incorporated into kiosks, elevators and ATMs, Ultraleap is revolutionising user interactions and processes.
With VR applications seemingly limitless, Ultraleap has the expertise to transform any space into a digital, immersive virtual reality. Currently, they’re developing an automotive interface that can be controlled using gestures, and with other exciting projects ongoing, Ultraleap is definitely one of the fastest growing VR startups in the UK.
Immerse is another fantastic VR startup offering a training platform that utilises new and existing VR content. The platform allows a training provider to keep total control and have flexibility while needing no expertise to set up the content.
The data available from using the platform can provide powerful performance insights that can be delivered as offline reports, transforming human performance in the workplace.
The immersive VR training experience has been used to cover scenarios such as using radiography equipment, emergency response training and even training to operate submarines.
Immerse’s customisable VR experiences allow for high-tech training solutions to be applied to technical and high-stakes situations. Increasing safety and expertise across the workforce.
Using immersive VR experiences FundamentalVR is passionate about creating opportunities to revolutionise education and skills. The data generated through the FundamentalVR platform can deliver insight into user potential and capabilities. Machine learning techniques and cutting edge AI are employed to deliver this assessment of its users.
FundamentalVR uses high tech solutions such as advanced haptic technology, mixed reality experiences and multiuser VR. This allows them to provide multimodal accessibility and flexibility in the experiences and environments that can be offered across the platform.
In the future, the startup is set to develop cloud based solutions, accessed through 5G infrastructure to increase its user reach and improve capabilities.
6. Oxford VR
OxfordVR is concerned with tackling mental health through a novel, therapeutic, and research backed technological approach. Using immersive VR techniques, an automated therapy is offered that can be tailored to meet the exact needs of each patient.
Virtual coaches are incorporated into simulations, helping to deliver the therapy interventions and ensuring protocol adherence.
The inherent flexibility of VR allows for patients to generate ‘experiences on demand’. Allowing for a safe space to be provided where scenarios can be played out creating psychological difficulties (and an opportunity to practice new behaviour).
OxfordVR creates these lessons so that new behaviours can be transferred into real life. During the simulations the mind and body react as if it were real-life, allowing for new behaviours to be learned ‘online’, and applied ‘offline’.
As mental health issues continue to climb in the UK and look set to continue to do so following Covid-19, OxfordVR is well positioned to be there with a solution for institutions now prioritising mental health treatments.
vTime builds platforms that allow users to meet, share, create and explore through a personalised reality. vTime has created platforms such as XR, a social network and vTag, a 3D avatar messaging app.
vTime is focussing its expertise on realising a future of virtual and augmented realities, accessible 24/7 through innovative wearable technology and connected through 5G networks.
With global tech firms now believing that the future of technology and connectivity is a cloud based metaverse, vTime seems to be a VR startup with a head start, watch this space!
Based in Farnborough, nDreams is a VR games publisher and developer. Since 2013 they have been pioneers in boundary pushing immersive gameplay.
Winning a raft of different awards for innovation and VR development, this startup is going from strength to strength. Watch out for them becoming more renowned as VR headsets become more affordable and gaming moves into virtual and augmented realities.
9. XR Games
XR Games is an award winning design studio, passionate about making accessible and fun VR games that can be played by anyone.
This VR startup develops games across all platforms, from mobile gaming to VR. The immersive 3D gaming experience they provide balances realism, with a fun and fluid gaming experience.
An augmented reality based fitness coaching platform, FitXR is taking online fitness to a new level. Online coaching and workouts aren’t new, but FitXR are amongst the first to incorporate VR to provide personalised fitness experiences.
Delivered through commercial VR headsets, FitXR charges a subscription fee for access to a variety of workouts that are posted each day. Users can choose between dance, box and HIIT and with a selection of music, virtual environments and the ability to workout with friends, this VR startup has a unique fitness solution!
As you read this, all around the world, tech companies are working to build the tools and infrastructure needed to be able to bring the metaverse to life. Alongside this, the cost of accessing VR environments is coming down and headsets are becoming more commonplace.
The increased trend towards commercial use of VR and AR are accelerating these lower costs. As the digital transformation of the UK economy progresses, businesses of all types and sizes are incorporating VR into business models and marketing strategies, while traditional media are also moving towards virtual spaces. With these virtual spaces becoming interconnected through VR startups such as those above, the VR and the wider metaverse could become a ‘reality’, sooner than you think.
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