Guest Post: 7 AR/VR Startups You Can’t Miss at Startup Week

Guest contributor, Lily Snyder.

Lily Snyder is an IT Consultant, writer and speaker. She is passionate about using technology to solve business problems. She is the keynote speaker for this month’s Tech Frontier Series, which is taking place in the middle of Cincinnati Startup Week 2018 – an event that is free and open to the public. Build your schedule here.

Virtual and augmented reality startups are not for the faint of heart. VR and AR technology has improved a lot over the past couple years. Recently, Gartner moved VR onto the Slope of Enlightenment. AR remains in the Trough of Disillusionment but that’s not stopping these local, Cincinnati startups from making it their business.

Cincinnati may or may not be the first city to come to mind for an innovative technology solution, but you don’t have to venture far to find immersive technology companies. Here are seven startups using augmented and virtual reality to transform the way companies do business. These startups are revolutionizing what it means to be “virtual” by breaking the mold for companies in any industry to take advantage of immersive technology.

Remote Work


Being in the office is the most effective way to collaborate and get work done. However, we live in a globalized world where companies have offices around the globe. To take advantage of the globalized workforce many companies offer telecommuting. Unfortunately, current remote solutions don’t work for remote employees. They’re more frustrating than flight delays and traffic jams. Immersed empowers employees to work from anywhere in the world, together in VR. VR provides multiple screens, whiteboards, and collaboration better than any video.

They are able to do this with proprietary AI software that detects your joints in 3D so you can collaborate in VR without all the extra controllers, wires, and gear. With a laptop and mobile device, teams can collaborate in virtual reality. Teams at companies like Google, Microsoft, Salesforce, and others are on a waiting list to use their product for remote collaboration such as multiple-screen sharing for pair-programming, and remote whiteboarding.

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Hands Free Control in Manufacturing and Healthcare Industries

Perceptive Devices

Is it possible to control your computer and equipment with a smile? The creators of Perceptive Devices thought so. They developed a formula for engineers, surgeons, and people with busy hands to operate their computers with body and facial recognition.

With hands-free and voice-free patented technology, people can control a diverse range of electronic devices which improves productivity, safety, and creates greater accessibility. Webcams and sensors mounted on eyewear perform actions based on facial gestures.

For example, manufacturers navigate through assembly and repair instructions using a head mounted display (HMD) hands-free and voice-free. Surgeons navigate patient information (such as X-rays, medical records, etc.) with while actively working on or with the patient.

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Make ads come to life with augmented reality


Mobile is the go-to platform for augmented reality. People take advantage of mobile AR daily with Snapchat filters and images overlaid on real world environments. The creators of Glimmar saw mobile ads being left behind. They found that augmented reality ads captured more detailed analytics and create lasting ideas, not just impressions.

Web based AR allows consumers and ad agencies to experience augmented ads without having to download specific mobile apps. Glimmar is driven by an AR-specific analytics engine that provides deep metrics from a consumer’s expression to heat-map data of their experience.

If we learned anything from Mad Men, it’s that advertising evolves with the culture of the day. It also evolves with the technology. Mobile users are adept at ignoring popup ad images. Instead of turning customers off, mobile AR ads engage people to interact and tell a story with the product advertised.

Imagine seeing an ad for glasses scrolling through a blog post. Using your mobile phone’s camera, the web-based AR technology overlays different glasses frames over your face. Click the style you like the most and be taken to that product’s webpage to check out.

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Augmented reality reduces pain and encourages movement during rehabilitative therapy

Spellbound AR

Augmented reality is a great tool for hospitals. AR is shown to reduce patient pain and help hospitalized children cope while engaging in medical treatment. Spellbound’s AR experiences are used by, “pediatric specialists to improve procedural compliance and reduce trauma for their patients.” This is possible because Spellbound runs on devices hospitals already use like tablets and smartphones.

Jamie Mayo, a Rehabilitation Engineer at Mott Children’s Hospital, found that kids are “motivated to keep trying even if it is hard because they want to see what comes next. The “magic” of the augmented reality aspect helps the children to escape the scary or uncertain hospital environment to do something imaginative… all while doing their therapeutic exercises.”

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Engage with customers socially in the sky

BlueSky Paint

Drawing on computers is fun. We’ve thought so ever since the earliest days of MS Paint. But now we can do that with our phones. BlueSky Paint is the first AR app to introduce Sky Occlusion, “an augmented reality technology that puts digital objects behind landscapes, trees, and buildings, effectively making drawings look like they’re in the sky.”

BlueSky Paint is social which means people at sports games, concerts, and festivals can draw in the sky. Fans can battle for their teams by drawing their teams color or concertgoers can draw venue-wide light shows together in real-time. This is any marketing team’s dream. Imagine having the whole sky at a sporting event to engage with the audience on the ground. You already know who they are from ticket sales and event time. Engage directly with real life people using BlueSky Paint.

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Drive change with immersive technology


Virtual reality immerses consumers, students, and employees in situations that test their reactions to products and different work environments. Their reactions can be analyzed and compared with data since they react in a virtual simulation. This eliminates product guesswork before it goes to market and ensures employees are trained on best practices when they go to work.

Vectre gets to the meat of product visualization and training simulations. People who experience training in virtual reality increase the retention 75% over traditional classroom training. That’s because in VR, trainees learn by doing. Vectre creates virtual learning environments using gamification to make learning stick.

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Hold, shape, and feel objects in a digital world

Contact CI

One of the barriers to seamless VR immersion is controllers. It’s hard to naturally interact in the virtual world around you when you have to hold a controller and figure out which buttons do what. Contact CI addressed that challenge by creating Maestro, a Natural Touch haptic data glove. Maestro has finger vibration at each fingertip along with mechanical joint and positional tracking to create low latency, high accuracy gesture capture.

Virtual reality is a great environment to run simulations or test procedures that are too dangerous to perform in real life. A haptic glove that can perform complex hand gestures allows people to have seamless interactions with their virtual environments. The opposable thumb makes us human. The haptic glove makes humans virtual.

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About Lily

Lily Snyder is an IT Consultant, writer and speaker. She is passionate about using technology to solve business problems. When she’s not working, you can find her walking her Dalmatian/Lab mix, Sugar, and son in the park. Learn more about Lily online at

What to expect from Tech Frontier?
Tech Frontier is about bringing together enterprise technology leaders with its active network of experts, venture capitalists, and high-growth startups. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have been an up and coming technology for years. However now, with enough investment in the technology, the uses for this outside of gaming not only appear to be limitless but finally accessible to businesses of any size. Join us as we discuss real-life use cases within the Retail, Industrial, and Healthcare space.

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