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Hyderabad’s start-up shines in the AR/VR space

The 10th F8 Conference of Facebook in early May at San Jose in California was a conversation focussed on technology and human connection. It was an opportunity to get insights into the new features and updates to Facebook’s family of apps, that will help build community and bring the world closer together. One of the highlights was their focus on Augmented Reality (AR) experiences to bring more people and platforms together along with the launch of their Virtual Reality (VR) devices Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift S. 
 
Two of Hyderabad’s AR/VR start-ups, Loop Reality and Merxius, which are part of the Facebook’s India Innovation Hub Accelerator Program, got the opportunity to represent India and be part of the global contingent of 65 start-ups at the F8 Conference. “There were great networking opportunities, deep-dive sessions and product demos that showcased the latest in AI, open source, AR/VR, developer programs as well as new tools across Facebook’s family of apps. We also got to understand that Facebook’s next big market is India,” said Jignesh Talasila, co-founder of Loop Reality. 
 
The F8 Conference was an opportunity that opened several doors globally for Loop Reality. With clients like Maruti Suzuki, Virtusa, Angel Broking, Saint Gobain and KCP Cements, the company may expand to international markets like Singapore and the US in the next one year, depending on the growth of AR/VR market. “Until now, our focus has been on game science and people science. We will scale our efforts towards Artificial Intelligence (AI) which could allow us to explore newer opportunities,” Talasila explains.
 
The AR/VR industry in India is at a nascent stage. Currently, there are less than 200 start-ups operating in this space.  But, in the next five years, this industry is likely to see an annual growth rate of 76%, states a report by Market Pulse. The most obvious use cases for AR/VR technology lie in video games, live events, video entertainment, healthcare, real estate, retail, education, engineering and defence. “In India, there a strong market for use-case scenarios,” adds Talasila, who says that the launch of Apple’s AR Headset could change the direction of the AR/VR market globally.
 
Jignesh, along with Sai Suraj Vanka, Ravi Theja Muthu, Raviteja Koneru, and Karthik KV, founded the Loop Reality in 2016 but had to pivot multiple times before they arrived on an idea that brought them customers. From VR-based education lab and working on other projects to creating a wearable VR prototype called LoopFit, it was a long and strenuous journey. 
 
LoopFit targeted the fitness segment by turning cycling into a game with multiple levels and different environments. When LoopFit was showcased at global events, the response from international delegates was phenomenal. However, soon the founders realised that they needed external funding to make it work. Despite their ardent efforts to find investors for LoopFit, they realised that VR was still at a nascent stage in India which meant that making the devices in India was not possible. Therefore, with limited resources and team, Loop Reality had to shelve their idea. 
 
Unperturbed by their previous trials, they hit the bright spot when they realised that they could work in the HR space in diagnostics and development. “Loop Reality’s flagship solution - Perspect AI - is an immersive game-based assessment tool that helps improve the quality of hires by assessing a potential employee’s strengths and weaknesses under various stress conditions, by virtually putting them in different environments and having them play their game. This solution can accurately report on a person’s physiological and psychological responses,” he adds.
 
If one looks at the pace of AR/VR market in India, Loop Reality’s growth could reflect the growth of this market as well. While this sector still needs a shift in consumer and investor mindset, experts predict that AR/VR technologies will make their mark across domains as Indian start-ups continue to emerge and harvest the growing opportunities in this new space. 
 
With the Internet changing our lives forever, the penetration of AR and VR indicates that we may not be far away from the Black Mirror-esque future!

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