The next big thing in virtual reality (VR) may have just been born on the campus of Georgia Tech.
Over 400 students, representing 9 countries and 49 universities, flocked to Georgia Tech in early April to compete in ImmerseGT, a three-day VR hackathon. In partnership with Startup Exchange and GTXR, students competed for $20,000 worth of prizes but several walked out of the weekend with angel checks or interest from VCs to help scale.
Founded by Gokul Mohanty, Carter Cote, and Parth Arora, ImmerseGT gives students a chance to see how they can use VR to solve real-world problems. From DEI to mental health to WebXR, student teams competed to build new platforms that expand how we think about the role of VR in our daily lives.
THE BIG WINNERS…
Top prizes were awarded in the following categories:
Best in AI – Wagyo
Taking home the grand prize of $10,000 and a “sizable” angel investment on the spot , Wagyu is an AI chat canvas that transforms words into worlds. Think of it as ChatGPT for virtual reality. This is a generative AI that when a user types in a prompt, it creates a virtual reality environment in seconds. For example, you could type in “A futuristic version of Los Angeles” and in moments the AI will create a fully immersive VR render of the futuristic LA. This completely democratizes and makes accessible VR development, as with this technology, you need no VR coding knowledge, you can simply type in what you want to create, and a VR asset will be created.
Best Commercial Use – ChatPCB
ChatPCB’s an innovative mobile AR app designed to revolutionize printed circuit board fabrication for DIY enthusiasts by combining AI and AR technologies to dynamically highlight solder pad locations. This company had the strongest go-to-market proposition, essentially, based on the judge’s deliberation, this app prototype was already going to market ready. Based on test data, this app reduced circuit board assembly by 50% on average and has the potential to have a huge impact on the efficiency of the industry. They have multiple VCs and angel investor meetings in the coming weeks and are set to start raising their seed round.
Best in Mixed Reality & Shared World Experience: LasAR Tag
LasAR Tag brings laser tag to the modern age! Using AR and motion-tracking tech, users can play laser tag in their homes. Typical Laser Tag requires an expensive setup that is completely inaccessible to those who are financially not well to do. This setup makes this accessible to low-income households and children as the only things needed to play are red solo cups, a webcam, and a smartphone. Players wear printable Aruco tags on their heads and can shoot using red cups that they point toward their enemies. To reload their gun, they bring their cup toward their body. Players can view their score, health, ammo, accuracy, and other stats on a smartphone.
Best in MobileAR and WebXR – GoPortal
Experience the city like never before! GoPortal lets you explore landmarks and shops through portals, leave digital assets, play AR games, and get recommendations. GoPortal offers a unique, engaging, and trackable experience that lets you explore areas in a way you have never seen before. The augmented reality (AR) app uses portals at landmarks, museums, and shops that lead to virtual rooms where you can leave digital assets and see who has visited before. This not only allows travel to be accessible and free, but it also makes it interactive as when users visit locations, they can interact with objects to learn more about them. For example, you can virtually visit the Lincoln Memorial in DC and when you tap on Lincoln’s statue, you can learn more about the history of the monument. They have moved forward with developing a full-fledged prototype and are currently raising pre-seed. They received considerable attention and have meetings set up with an incubator to develop and bring their product to market.
Best in Gaming and Sports/Fitness – Tron: Disc Wars XR
Step into the world of Tron like never before with our groundbreaking VR game “Tron: Disc Wars”, where you use your light disc to outmaneuver and defeat opponents…are you ready to light up the grid? This was by far one of the most technically impressive projects as the Meta Interaction SDK they used to develop the game was only developed a few months ago, so there’s barely any documentation or research on it, and massive gaming companies have been struggling to develop using it, and this team managed to develop this in under three days. This project received incredibly high praise due to it actually being groundbreaking in metaverse interaction technologies and the judges were stunned that these competitors were able to implement this Meta Interaction SDK in a usable way when there is virtually no documentation or use cases so far.
Best use of Omniverse – SageVR
Stepping Into Your Own Wisdom: A Novel Approach to Conventional Therapy. Envisioning yourself in a positive future can be difficult, especially in the depths of despair. But what if, in your darkest hours, you can not only envision yourself positively but actually look at a future you, and talk to a future you? Powered by cutting-edge conversational AI and hosted in an immersive VR setting, SageVR lets you converse with an aged-up version of yourself in a tranquil setting, absorb your own wisdom, and lose yourself in a brighter future — and through all that, you will realize that everything will be alright. SageVR is a proof of concept for a technology poised to transform the therapeutic landscape, a telescope into the infinite power of VR in mindfulness and therapy. This project will be joining an Atlanta-based incubator to further develop its technology.
Best Assistive Technology – Object Odyssey
ADHD affects 6M children in the US, negatively impacting attention, motivation, and working memory. Object Odyssey is a therapeutic platform that provides stimulating puzzles to alleviate symptoms related to ADHD. Object Odyssey is a therapeutic platform that provides stimulating puzzles to alleviate negative symptoms related to ADHD. This game provides two types of treatment: 1) behavior therapy to improve their self-control by providing rewards for completing the game task. 2) Cognitive training to improve their attention and focus, and problem-solving abilities to enhance their personal capacity. This had one of the best social good use cases for immersive VR.
Best in Mindfulness – MINDala
MINDala is a VR mindful application for users around the world to co-create a mandala in 7 days. MINDala is a VR mindful application for users around the world to co-create a mandala in 7 days. At the start of each week, the users are revealed to a new mandala template with a unique theme. After 7 days of co-creation, the final mandala artwork will be automatically destroyed.
GEORGIA TECH & VR
Georgia Tech is a natural place to host such a massive VR hackathon. Students linked to the university have gone on to launch impressive startups in the field, including Immersed (productivity) and Inspirit (EdTech), while campus is home to several labs and libraries dedicated to emerging VR technologies.