Surreal Vision - from startup to Oculus sensation

Back in October 2014 I was running through the pouring rain towards Imperial College London to meet one of the entrepreneurs of a startup called Surreal Vision.

Moments later I was sitting in the office of my dreams – because I had been allowed to pick the wallpaper, floor textures, surroundings and view from the window.

Surreal Vision had just won the IC Tomorrow’s Entertainment on the Move innovation contest to further develop real-world uses for Augmented Reality.

Its Augmented Reality technology had combined the use of an Oculus and a Laptop to allow the wearer to manipulate their current surroundings to look how they wanted, and could also add in additional entities which would react with real-world surroundings.

I remember staring in astonishment as an AR avatar sat down on a real chair that was placed next to me – because the technology was able to mesh the worlds of reality and technology through the genius of 3D scene reconstruction algorithms.

Now, they have moved on to be acquired by Oculus Research to work further on their unique mix of virtual reality and environmental manipulation.

“The Entertainment on the Move competition motivated us to think about innovative applications of our SLAM technology in gaming. The challenge enabled us to identify opportunities in the VR/AR space and to streamline our message accordingly, thanks to the feedback received at every stage of the contest,” Renato Salas-Moreno, Surreal Vision’s CEO.

“Winning the category provided us with both critical early funding as well as opening the doors to important industry contacts through the UKIE partnership.”

As the new cohort of AR/VR contestants will be hitting the most recent IC tomorrow Entertainment on the Move competition to pitch to potential sponsors such as John Lewis, Crossrrail, Royal London Hospital, Pearson, Kings College London and Columbia Records.

The startups will prove how their AR technologies can solve problems in several different categories, including bridging the retail gap between in-store and online, medical and vocational training, haptic feedback technology and immersive entertainment.

Just like Surreal Vision, the winners will receive funding and sponsorship from the category partner, this year up to £210,000 is on offer.

So who could be the next cutting edge business in the virtual and augmented reality space? We’ll have to wait and see.