Four reasons why you should attend TC Sessions AR/VR 2018

On October 18 — just one week away — some of the most brilliant and innovative minds in reality creation will gather at UCLA’s Royce Hall in Los Angeles to attend TC Sessions AR/VR 2018. Whether you’re an early start-up founder, an investor, a developer or a student, if you’re focused on AR/VR, you don’t […]

On October 18 — just one week away — some of the most brilliant and innovative minds in reality creation will gather at UCLA’s Royce Hall in Los Angeles to attend TC Sessions AR/VR 2018. Whether you’re an early start-up founder, an investor, a developer or a student, if you’re focused on AR/VR, you don’t want to miss this day-long intensive that goes deep into the current and future state of augmented and virtual realities.

Need a bit more convincing? Here are four reasons why you should buy a ticket and attend TC Sessions AR/VR 2018.

1. Deep-dive discussions

We have an outstanding roster of speakers ready to take the stage and go deep on both the opportunities and the challenges facing the AR/VR industry now and in the future. Here are just some of the people and topics we have on tap.

Niko Bonatsos, managing director at General Catalyst, Jacob Mullins, a partner at Shasta Ventures and Catherine Ulrich, managing director at FirstMark Capital will offer a reality check on the state of AR/VR funding — and discuss where the opportunities lie.

Survios co-founders Nathan Burba and James Illiff will talk VR gaming. The big question is whether VR gaming will continue to be a big opportunity and whether the studio can keep the momentum rolling.

Stephanie Zhan, a partner at Sequoia Capital, discusses how to build an inclusive — if virtual — future. As we spend more time in online virtual worlds, can the game developers who build them address the social issues we encounter?

2. Presentations: The challenging future of AR/VR

From expensive hardware to breaking out beyond gaming, AR/VR technology faces hurdles to widespread adoption. Heavy-hitters at Oculus, Facebook, and Snap (to name a few) weigh in on this important subject. Here’s a taste.

Finding users isn’t the only hurdle when it comes to augmented reality. Creating developer platforms ranks right up there on the AR challenge-o-meter. Eitan Pilipski, a VP at Snap, will talk about leveraging the company’s extensive AR selfie-filter expertise to attract more developers.

Yelena Rachitzky is an executive producer of experiences at Oculus, a company that’s invested hundreds of millions of dollars into VR content. She’ll discuss how the company plans to help Facebook kickstart its VR future. Will Facebook’s customers buy in?

Speaking of Facebook’s future, Ficus Kirkpatrick leads the company’s camera team, and he’ll talk about the company’s entry into AR — by augmenting customers’ smartphone cameras. But where will Facebook’s AR journey lead?

3. Networking

You won’t find a better opportunity to connect with the leaders, innovators, investors and makers within the AR/VR community. Whether you’re looking for collaborators, an investment opportunity, your next job or your next round of funding, you’ll find the people who can make it happen at TC Sessions AR/VR 2018 — all in one day, all in one place.

4. Build community

Community building goes beyond simple networking. It’s like-minded people sharing their ideas, philosophies and dreams. It’s about learning from each other and then returning to the work with renewed inspiration. Come and enrich the community.

TC Sessions AR/VR 2018 takes place on October 18 at UCLA’s Royce Hall in Los Angeles. Tickets cost $149, but you can save 35 percent simply by tweeting your attendance. Go buy a ticket and join your people for one incredible, inspiring day. We can’t wait to see you next week!

 

 

Swiping right on virtual relationships

Sextech entrepreneur and advocate Bryony Cole is planning for a future when entire relationships exist in virtual reality.

There’s an episode in the latest season of the Hulu original series Casual, where the main character, Alex, tries his hand at dating in virtual reality. He quickly meets a woman and develops a big, adrenaline-inducing crush only to realize she’s a scammer out for his credit card information.

The season takes place around 2021 or 2022, when technological advances have made dating in VR both possible and socially acceptable. We’re not there yet, and we probably won’t be there as soon as the writers of the show think, but it’s time to imagine and plan for a future when entire relationships exist in and as a result of virtual reality.

Sextech entrepreneur and advocate Bryony Cole has built a career around the assumption that a full pivot to VR will happen in our lifetimes.

She’s the chief executive officer of Future of Sex, a podcast-turned-media company and sextech accelerator. Future of Sex has just released its inaugural report on virtual intimacy and plans to produce content on other topics at the intersection of technology and sex. 

Today, most people are more interested in Magic Leap’s new Angry Birds VR game than the ways in which VR can aid struggling relationships, but the report is full of interesting nuggets on how tech, like teledildonics (Internet-connected sex toys), is transforming intimacy.

There’s a whole class of startups named in the report embracing the notion that human experiences can be improved when powered by apps and devices. No, they aren’t advocating for you to bring your smartphone to the bedroom, but rather claiming that customizable tech can heighten the senses or create new avenues for exploration.

Kissenger, for example, has a mobile app that lets you exchange a kiss over the Internet. Fleshlight and Lovense sell Bluetooth-connected vibrators. And CamasutraVR streams virtual versions of real-life porn stars.

VR is the future of couples therapy

VR, Cole says, is a the forefront of the sextech industry’s transformation and if used correctly, can bolster relationships.

“It’s a new way for couples or thruples, or whatever relationship you’re in, to bond,” Cole told TechCrunch. “The ability to empathize with another person is enriched in this context, which is great, especially for understanding a lover.”

VR can facilitate more meaningful interactions for couples in long-distance relationships. If used right, it can fill the “intimacy gap,” or the space between a couple’s shared happiness and an individual’s personal happiness that, when too big, leads to many couple’s demise. 

As a safe space for experimentation, two people can explore fantasies, engage with educational content and even visit a couple’s therapist in VR. 

The release of the report is hot off the heels of Future of Sex’s fourth sextech hackathon. In New York, the company asked participants to create tech-enabled solutions to reinvent sex education for teenage boys, among other prompts. 

Women in sextech

Future of Sex partnered with porn site YouPorn to co-host the event and asked hackers to come up with ways to leverage YouPorn’s content, which includes VR porn, to improve the sex lives of viewers. VR porn is not a new phenomenon and while it can allow for more personal sexual experiences, researchers have warned that blurring the line between the real and the virtual could lead to ethical issues. How, for example, do you give consent in VR?

Women, who are often exploited for the purposes of sexual entertainment, need to be at the table while this content and other sextech are in development. Fortunately, Cole says, women are entering the sextech community in droves.

“[It’s] exploding at the moment and more and more women entrepreneurs are having a go at building a company,” she said. “It’s Important to highlight why women are getting involved in sextech especially in the current climate of #MeToo.”

On stage at TechCrunch Disrupt SF this year, Unbound, which makes fashion-forward vibrators and other sex toys for women, took home the second-place prize.

“Our dream at Unbound is for female sexual health to be viewed through the same lens as male sexuality — as a part of our overall health that deserves a conversation, platform, and shopping experience that doesn’t feel like a flaming pile of garbage,” Unbound founder Polly Rodriguez told TechCrunch’s John Biggs.

Rodriguez is a close friend of Cole’s — the community is still small — and she’s appeared on the Future of Sex podcast.

The podcast, hackathons and the 12-week accelerator program for sextech startups are part of Cole’s effort to expand the dialogue around VR & sextech, invite new voices into the movement and remove the stigma around having open and honest conversations about sex and intimacy.

“There has to be a way to invite more people into this conversation,” she said. “If we can normalize the conversation, we can raise the standards around talking about sex.”

Hear how Oculus is minimizing VR’s content problem at TC Sessions: AR/VR

In 2018, VR adoption has plenty of demons to chase as it looks to build a larger, more mainstream audience. In 2017, the chief concern for most in the industry was the lack of content available for headsets. The “content problem,” as it was called, was a huge concern for headset companies like Oculus which […]

In 2018, VR adoption has plenty of demons to chase as it looks to build a larger, more mainstream audience. In 2017, the chief concern for most in the industry was the lack of content available for headsets.

The “content problem,” as it was called, was a huge concern for headset companies like Oculus which were selling pricey headsets that users could blaze through the available content for in a few weeks. It was a daunting challenge for the young industry, but one that no one seems to be talking about quite as much just a year later.

With VCs still reticent to invest in content and a relatively small user base, how did the industry move past the content problem? Well, a large part was Oculus‘s efforts in spending its way through the problem by investing hundreds of millions in indie developers building new and innovative VR content.

At TechCrunch Sessions: AR/VR (early bird sale ends Friday) we’ll ask Oculus‘s Executive Producer of Experiences Yelena Rachitsky about the company’s latest strategies for investing in VR content and where they think the biggest opportunities are for VR creators.

Two years ago, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg shared at the Oculus developer conference that the company had already pumped $250 million into VR content investments, pledging another $250 million to be invested thereafter. The company hasn’t delivered many other details on total funding since, but fast forward to the present and it’s difficult to find a VR developer that hasn’t benefitted from Oculus’s big investments in the space.

Oculus is still a major driver of content across gaming, but their funding efforts are even more important for studios building immersive cinematic content. While game studios have a tried and true method for monetizing users, revenue options are much less clear for small studios pumping tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars into 10 minute VR experiences.

How will these studios eventually monetize is an open question, for now the studios have a lot of very base creative questions they’re still grappling with, like learning how a modern audience will engage with a super modern technology that should theoretically enable much deeper emotional experiences. Oculus has already poured millions of dollars into these non-gaming projects as they’ve shifted away from trying to answer these questions in-house.

VR content creators have learned quite a lot in the last several years about the craft of building immersive content for headsets– a lot about what works but even more about what doesn’t. At TC Session: AR/VR, we’ll hear from Rachitsky about her first-hand experience at Oculus, helping to build up a network of studios that is pushing the medium’s potential forward year-after-year.

Early bird sale ends Friday, September 21. Book your tickets today and you’ll save $100. Student tickets are just $45.

Announcing the agenda for TC Sessions: AR/VR in LA on October 18

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 […]

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?
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  • The Social Experiment
    Adam Arrigo [TheWaveVR]Sophia Dominguez [SVRFand 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.
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  • Reality Checks
    Niko Bonatsos [General Catalyst]Catherine Ulrich [FirstMark Capitaland 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 BachmannWhile 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?
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • Ditching Headsets for Holograms
    Shawn Frayne [Looking Glass Factory]Brett Jones [Lightformand 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.
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  • 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?
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  • 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?
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  • Building Inclusive Worlds
    Monika Bielskyte [AllFutureEverythingother 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?
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  • Augmenting the Office
    Clorama Dorvilias [DebiasVR] and Derek Belch [STRIVRand 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.
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  • Your Virtual Self
    Parham Aarabi  [ModiFaceother 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.
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