Six Startups to Watch in IoT and AR




“If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough,” said Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors and business magnate, investor, engineer, and inventor. Failure is inevitable for startups, and is one step (or maybe hundreds or thousands) on the path to success. 

It takes long hours, failure, ambition, and a good product to be one of the 10 percent of startups that makes it. Fortunately, there are incubator and accelerator programs designed to help. One such organization is MassChallenge, an accelerator that helps high-impact, early-stage entrepreneurs with the resources they need to succeed. 

As a MassChallenge sponsor, PTC has helped identify and source startups that have high potential for advancing technology developments in key areas such as the Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality (AR), big data analytics, and security. Recently, six startups in these areas had the opportunity to visit PTC’s corporate headquarters, present their business to PTC executives, and network with the Boston high tech community. 

Similar to the ABC hit series Shark Tank, each startup was given 20 minutes to pitch a panel of PTC executives and receive valuable feedback on their business process, business model, and ability to scale. While each company is at a different stage in the development process, all of them offer an exciting and unique take on IoT and AR. Let’s take a look at each of these unique offerings.


ARSpirit
Have you ever seen an avatar of a CEO knock down a set of dominoes using AR? How about a cat on a flying carpet in the office? Well, you haven’t met ARSpirit then. Recognizing that consumers want more interaction (think about the success of Snapchat filters and Pokémon GO), ARSpirit developed a full 3D AR engine for mobile developers. 

Ross Finman, the company’s CEO and co-founder, discussed the potential of AR both in the enterprise and consumer markets, identifying three main applications: instruction, visualization, and entertainment. With their sights set on game developers to start, ARSpirit offers an engine plugin for Unity, a popular development platform for games and interactive content on the web, iOS, Android, consoles, and more.


Building Conversation
Look out of your virtual windows with Building Conversation. Using mobile AR technology, this innovative startup is bringing visual communication to architects, builders, and clients to help lower costs and produce better results. Rather than waiting for a structure to be built, CAD files are imported to instantly visualize it in its actual geolocation. 

Current visual models are expensive, time-consuming, and out of context. With an iPad, users can now see the design in full-scale, on-site, and in context (such as accurate light and shadow). Together with their six-person team, founders Terrence Masson and George Thrush bring impressive resumes to the table and a passion for changing the way people build and communicate.


EYL
The explosion of smart, connected products leads to a huge issue: security. Francis (Junghyun) Baik, co-founder of Korean startup EYL, cautioned that insecure devices are everyone’s concern. Random numbers are a core element of encrypting information. However, most random numbers used today are Pseudorandom numbers generated by an algorithm, which exposes them to the possibility of being hacked.

Harvesting the randomness of noise from wind, sound, or heat would produce true random numbers, but extractors are expensive. EYL found a solution based on Quantum Theory. Using radioactive isotopes, random numbers are created by measuring the time intervals naturally emitted by alpha-particles. EYL developed a super-fast micro Quantum Random Number Generator (QRNG) that is only 5x5mm and costs less than $1.


Pzartech
Unplanned downtime (UDT), the unforeseen failure in hardware or software components or operator mistakes, can be costly to a business. For an oil well, UDT can mean a loss of $470K per day, and for an automotive assembly line that jumps to a staggering $1.3M per hour. Pzartech is attempting to reduce the impact of UDT with its comprehensive spare part solution that allows a part to be identified and ordered faster. 

The user experience begins by taking a picture of the physical broken part, which is then compared to the database of CAD files. Once the part is identified, it can be ordered or 3D printed. Industries that could significantly benefit from a reduction in the time it takes to identify and order a part include energy, defense, transportation, and manufacturing. Founder Jeremie Brabet-Adonajlo recognized that while UDT cannot be eliminated altogether, Pzartech offers a solution that can help reduce it.


Sybil Security
Would you reveal your best friend’s name? What about your best friend’s secrets? Sharing data while protecting sensitive portions between organizations is what inspired Uri Braun to start Sybil Security. Today, data sharing relies on redaction. This archaic process of removing words and phrases actually results in the removal of more data than intended. Sybil Security is changing that by preserving data value while adhering to privacy and security policies for faster and safer data sharing.

Sybil Security offers several solutions that are designed to address different use cases. With their technology, organizations can flexibly share data, reduce liability, accelerate partnerships, and safely audit data. 


VRDoodler
Not everyone wants to color in the lines. VRDoodler is a browser-based, 3D drawing platform that can render in virtual reality (VR) and into 3D printable objects. Founder Cindy Bishop described it as a 3D "Harold and The Purple Crayon meets Humans of New York" content-creation platform that is mobile, easy to use, and free. The relationship between humans and computers, she said, is complicated. Story tellers want to make content, but have not necessarily had the right authoring tools to do so. 

VRDoodler allows the user to authentically create something in VR (and soon to be AR) without having to draw straight lines or show something that is fixed. But don’t worry – there is also a library of items so that not everything has to be drawn freehand. 


As IoT and AR continue to take center stage, keep an eye out for these 6 startups.