US virtual reality platform TimeLooper has joined Advance Queensland’s Hot DesQ program, looking to extend its operations and network in Australia by joining program host QUT Creative Enterprise Australia (QUT CEA).
CEO of QUT Creative Enterprise Australia, Anna Rooke said, “We are thrilled that TimeLooper has selected CEA as its inaugural Australian host. We are passionate about supporting startups in the creative tech space and are excited to help accelerate its development and growth in the APAC market.
“Creative tech is contributing hugely to economies overseas, so we’re looking forward to leveraging the skills and network that TimeLooper will, in return, bring to Queensland, and indeed Australia, through its work in our market,” added Rooke.
Following on from TimeLooper’s participation at New York’s TechCrunch Disrupt in May, the startup won a $50,000 grant from Hot DesQ to market its platform to local businesses in Queensland.
TimeLooper is a platform that enables users to experience and re-live unforgettable moments in history through their smartphones and in 3D reality. The app is location-based and delivers virtual reality experiences of monumental landmarks. For example, tourists can experience past historic events through their phone like the Great Fire of London or the V-J Day ‘kiss’ in Times Square.
“We are lucky enough to have been to some of the most iconic locations around the world, yet found the experience incomplete. We visit these locations to learn history and immerse ourselves in culture, however, the infrastructure around these sites is sufficient in communicating the facts and figures but incomplete when it comes to communicating the intangible heritage and what it felt like to actually be at these locations as history was made,” said cofounder of TimeLooper, Andrew Feinberg.
Instead of just travelling and living in the present moment, tourists now have the opportunity to see into the past. Historic places, monuments and statues can come alive through TimeLooper’s virtual reality technology.
VR’s initial application was in gaming, which required expensive, high-end technology and head-mounted displays. However as market solutions like Google Cardboard and Gear VR emerge the power of the smartphone can be easily leveraged. Lower costs and greater accessibility to this form of technology is seeing a rapid expansion of VR into other sectors of media such as documentaries and live action sports.
“Global brands are exploring how virtual reality can enable them to more effectively engage with end consumers. And outside of entertainment experiences, VR is transforming the healthcare industry; from enhancing the treatment of PTSD to surgical training,” explained Feinberg.
The adoption of VR and augmented reality apps by smartphone users is increasing worldwide. One of the most addictive apps in years, Pokémon Go, has shown just how popular augmented reality experiences can be. Last week Recode recorded that in the US alone an estimated 9.5 million active users were recorded on the app.
Feinberg explained that there are three trends when it comes to these experiences that are generating increased popularity: firstly, a lower cost of hardware is seeing increased adoption of these apps and games. Secondly, there is an explosion of content now being created in a variety of formats. And thirdly, there are more major consumer brands testing ways of leveraging VR technology to improve engagement with their consumers.
Australia is rich in content and is home to a startup ecosystem that is gaining momentum and traction around the world. With large tech companies like Google, Twitter and Snapchat setting up offices around the country, Australia is also becoming a destination for earlier stage startups to tap into the Asia Pacific region.
TimeLooper views Australia as a robust global tourism destination and Queensland as a prime location to scale its business globally. The state’s close proximity to APAC countries is why TimeLooper has chosen QUT CEA as its creative tech community host.
CEA will host TimeLooper for a six month period and will help the team to connect to local startup networks. The startup will also have access to mentors, business advice, masterclass programs and Hot DesQ’s onsite coworking space, The Coterie.
“Queensland provides each of the above in abundance and the Hot DesQ program does a wonderful job of bringing the pieces together in an attractive manner. Advance Queensland has clearly done its homework in developing a highly compelling value proposition for emerging companies,” said Feinberg.
The Hot DesQ initiative is part of the state government’s $405 million Advance Queensland initiative. The government has launched Hot DesQ with $8 million in funding to support the growth of startups and businesses and increase innovation activity and venture capital investment.
Queensland’s minister for Innovation Leeanne Enoch welcomed the arrival of Hot DesQ’s first international startup.
“The company’s arrival in Queensland will provide wonderful collaborative opportunities for the state’s tourism sector and this innovative company will inject exciting new talent into Queensland’s dynamic startup culture,” she said.
The Hot DesQ has been specifically designed to help international startups like TimeLooper develop their ideas at any one of the program’s 13 locations around the state.
Image: Prash Lagisetti, Carol Dickenson, Minister Leeanne Enoch, Andrew Feinberg and Anna Rooke.