Top 10 Korean Tech Startups in the VR/AR Space – Best of 2020

It was only a few years ago that VR was the craze in South Korea. However, it seems that AR (Augmented Reality) is getting more buzz and startups in Korea are looking to cash in on this immersive experience. Having the world as a background opens the door for new experiences, technologies, and innovation. Korea is home to some of the top emerging players in both the AR and VR industry. Here are the top 10 Korean tech startups that are utilizing the VR and AR space.

The rankings were comprised by the Seoulz staff and are based on 4 factors:

  • Funding
  • Market Opportunity
  • The innovation of service or product
  • Growth Potential/Scalability

The Top 10 AR/VR Startups in Korea

1. FXGear

Korean Tech Startup FXGearThe top AR/VR startup in Korea is the Korean Tech startup FXGear.  It is one of the top computer graphics companies in Korea. They started to focus a lot on AR and VR back in 2012. Now more than 90% of their sales come from AR/VR. Their most successful product is FXMirror. It is a mirror that measures a person’s height and body type and displays virtual clothes the users can “try on”. Customers can find FX Mirrors in some Lotte Department Stores locations in Korea.

“While the existing FXMirror automatically supports the virtual fitting of outfits in the size most suitable for users, the new physics-based fitting simulation function enables users to try different sizes virtually, compare the fit of each size and select the best size for them, which will help clothes shopper,” said CEO of FXGear, Choi Kwang-Jin.

FXGear has expanded to China. They are partnering up with Chixing Network Technology and eCommerce site JD.com. JD.com will use FXGear’s mobile virtual fitting service called “Fit N SHOP”. Therefore, consumers can create avatars to try on virtual clothes on the JD.com mobile shopping app. They are looking to install over 10,000 FXMirrors in clothing stores across China. Their focus in 2019 will be to look to expand into Japan and Europe.

FXGear also has its own VR headset called NOON which has been selling well in Canada and the U.S.

2.  LetinAR

Korean AR Startup LetinARKorean AR startup LetinAR develops an optical solution for AR smart glasses and headsets. They are the creators of PinMR lens. It offers a wider virtual screen while at the same time offering more accurately expressing colors. It can also show a clear image without dizziness due to its ability to extend the depth of field. Many global smart glass manufacturers see a lot of potential in PinMR technology. Therefore it is very possible that PinMR will at some point replace the traditional optical solutions that are currently out there.

“Compared with all other AR optic solutions, LetinAR PinMR solution offers superior performance. We expect that PinMR Lens will soon replace the traditional solutions,” said CEO at LetinAR, Jaehyeok Kim.

LetinAR raised $5.4 million in its Series-A funding round which a majority of the funding coming from Kakao Ventures. They got their initial seed money from Naver.

3.  Looxid Labs

Korean Tech Startup Looxid LabsKorean tech startup Looxid Labs developed the world’s first mobile VR headset that is equipped with both eye-tracking and brainwave sensor technologies called LooxidVR. The detachable biometric sensor technology comes with a mobile VR headset, and the company is developing an attachable accessory that works with other VR headsets. LooxidVR uses eye-tracking sensors to track eye movement as well as the size of the user’s pupils when viewing content. The company utilizes machine learning algorithms to analyze the VR user’s emotional states. Therefore with LooxidVR, VR user’s emotional states such as stress levels and gaze attention can be tracked after post-analysis of the acquired brainwave and eye-tracking data.

“The biggest benefit of our VR device is being able to detect the unspoken language of users that could not be tracked before. It is a new and better way of acquiring direct emotive data from consumers,” said Looxid Labs CEO Chae Yong-wook.

LooxidVR took home the Best of Innovation Award at CES 2018 and has since partnered with major Korean companies in the advertisement industry. Their focus for 2019 will be VR user analytics solutions and psychological therapy through VR content. This will allow Looxid Labs to build better AI systems for emotion analysis. They raised $4 million in their Series A funding round from VC firms such as Samsung Venture Investment and are working closely with HTC. The VR startup will look to enter the US market by partnering with US companies moving forward.

4.  Urbanbase

Korean Tech Startup UrbanbaseKorean 3D spatial data platform startup Urbanbase creates VR/AR tools for interior planning and design. They have a patented algorithm that turns 2D floor plans into virtual spaces in less than a few seconds. Therefore they are able to provide a VR platform that allows users to see their potential homes. Not only that, in the VR space, users can put in furniture, put up wallpaper, and even change floorings.

They have raised over $6 million in funding from influential venture capitals. They were able to get over 40 partnerships with furniture and home appliance companies. Therefore they have over 7,000 items available in their VR platform. They are also working with real estate companies to offer VR space tours for apartment buildings in Korea. Their plans for 2019 will be to expand out of Korea and into other Asian markets.

“We intend to grow into a core platform in the upcoming age of VR by perfectly recreating environments around the whole world,” said CEO of Urbanbase Jinu Ha.

5.  DoubleMe

Korean Startup DoubleMeKorean VR startup DoubleMe offers a 3D capture system called HoloPortal which can convert 2D videos into 3D models in real-time. HoloPortal takes regular 2D videos. Then generates a fully animated 3D models which contain both movement and real textures with no need for post-production. They developed a new algorithm that only requires one depth sensor and one PC to holoportation in real-time. DoubleMe is working with major telecommunication equipment manufacturers on global commercial deployment of the 5G-enabled personal holoportation platform. They already have over 300 clients from different industries such as gaming, animation, 3D printing, etc.

Introducing Holoport

HoloPort works much the same way as Skype does. HoloPort is a free app that can record holograms for 3rd party games, animations, movies, and AR/VR/MR applications via its 3D and Unreal plugins. The aim is to democratize volumetric videos for communication and content creation. Furthermore, they already opened their beta platform for selected partners.

“Volumetric video finally became a consumer Internet technology, and anyone with Skype experiences can use HoloPort for holographic communication,” said CEO and co-founder of DoubleMe, Albert Kim.

In 2018 DoubleMe received a $3 million R&D grant from the Institute for Information & Communications technology Promotion.

6.  Gaudio Lab

Gaudio Labs Korean Tech StartupKorean tech startup Gaudio Lab is the creators of a Gaudio Sol SDK which is an audio software development kit. Their software can be used to incorporate interactive sound into 360-degree content. The Gaudio Sol SDK is a binaural renderer that supports First Order Ambisonics, Higher-Order Ambisonics, and the company’s GA5 audio format. In addition, it has low latency and does not put a strain on low-end devices. They offer interactive, immersive, and data-rich sound experiences.

“Livestreaming, high-fidelity spatial audio will bring a totally new level of presence to live events. Through the magic of VR, you can now experience the sound of concerts, eSports, and team sports as if you have the best seat in the house,” said CEO and co-founder of G-Audio Lab.

Gaudio Lab showcased the Sol SDK at the Augmented World Expo.  In addition, they have gotten funding from Korean VC firms such as Korea Investment Partners, LB Investment, SoftBank Ventures, and Capstone Partners.

Partnership with Thirteenth Floor

Gaudio has partnered with cinematic VR production company Thirteenth Floor. They plan to work and develop together to deliver hyper-realistic immersive experiences to viewers featuring a new level of quality. The experience will allow for synchronized immersive video and spatial audio that responds to the viewer’s head movement. In addition, this will give a higher level of realism and reduce motion sickness.

7.  Reality Reflection

Reality Reflection Korean Tech StartupKorean tech startup Reality Reflection is a digital human R&D lab and a VR content studio that can create a 3-D avatar of yourself or other virtual characters. The studio is filled with 160 DSLR cameras that scan the body and face of people to generate 3D virtual images. The startup is also creating an AR game called Mossland by raising funds via an ICO. The game allows players to buy and sell virtual property using their currency called Moss. Therefore, users will be able to own buildings and property they would not in real life.

Reality Reflection won a little over $450,000 in a competition for startups that utilize 5G connectivity.  In addition, the startup got funding from 500 Startups, Stonebridge Capital, and SK Telecom. Their focus in 2020 will be to continue to build up their 3D human scanning technology and real-time photorealistic rendering technology. Furthermore, they hope to develop the most realistic AI avatar by the end of 2020.

8.  Visual Camp

Korean Tech Startup Visual CampKorean tech startup Visual Camp specializes in eye-tracking technology. Eye-tracking or “gaze analysis” can be used in many fields such as smartphones, VR/AR head-mounted displays, retail, driving, and other online services. Visual Camp supplies VR/AR mobile eye-tracking software and looks to become the first creators of mobile eye-tracking technology. Not only VR eye tracker but they also have the lightest portable eye-tracker which can be embedded into a remote computer or laptop. Therefore, their eye-tracking technology can be applied to many industries such as health, education, gaming, and automotive.

Eye-tracking is combined with AI to identify a person’s area of interest based on their eye gaze. Furthermore Visual Camp has been working closely with a Korean automaker to incorporate their eye-tracking technology. Visual Camp has won both the V-Award at the VR Expo 2019 and the Prime Minister Award at the Korea Multimedia Technology Awards for their eye-tracking technology. Visual Camp is one of the companies supported by the K-ICT Born2Global Center. In addition, they launched a visual analysis solution called True Gaze which they hope to take to China and the U.S. markets.

“The real value of eye-tracking technology comes from analyzing gaze data. We will expand distribution to major countries such as China, Japan, and Europe after its launch in Korea and develop it into the best analytical solution widely used in the global market. We will not only enhance its quality on the VR base but expand its market by combining the technology with various devices such as mobile phones,” said the president of Visual Camp, Seok Yun-chan.

9.  THIRTEENTH FLOOR

Korean Tech Startup Thirteenth FloorKorean VR startup Thirteenth Floor makes and distributes cinematic VR content and interactive VR content, all optimized for the 5G era. They are known for creating high-quality/real-life cinematic VR content of travel, music, extreme & motorsports, and mental health care. Their spatial audio recordings and original UI/UX designs allow for a great immersive experience for users. Furthermore, all their content is created in-house by a group of VR experts who have worked for companies like CJ, SBS, and Nexon. In addition, they have opened their Canada and UK branches and expanded their business scope to the global market through strategic partnerships with global leading companies.

Introducing STUMPER

STUMPER, the first rhythm game with real-time multiplayer support and 2019 Unity Korea Award “Best XR” winner, is available on multiple platforms including PSVR along with Calm & Immerse, a VR mental health care service. STUMPER released 8 new tracks with 2 famous Asian EDM artists (DASHIWA and DJ Fenner) free of charge. In addition, it has featured other famous musicians from different genres such as Morcheeba, Part Time Cooks, and DJ Soda.

Partnership with Gaudio

Thirteenth Floor has partnered with Gaudio to provide a premium level of VR experience. They have licensed Gaudio’s Sol VR360 SDK and the two development teams will build a VR content service platform targeting 5G networks called THere. The two companies plan to launch the THere platform when 5G services start to roll out in major markets.

“With the potential of 5G now in focus, developing a new VR platform in collaboration with a leading audio technology company like Gaudio represents a meaningful strategic alliance. We are aiming to deliver the ultimate user experience in Cinematic VR, the one viewers have been waiting for,” said CEO of Thirteenth Floor, Jung-woo Park.

10. CLO Virtual Fashion

CLOCLO Virtual Fashion is a 3D fashion simulation specialist that has launched the AR Smart Mirror. The AR Smart Mirror integrates CLO’s BENEFIT BY CLO 3D avatar creation and their virtual fitting application programming interface. In addition, the AR Smart Mirror incorporates LG’s touch screen signage. As well as, an automatic body scanning technology using a 3D camera that is placed at the top of the mirror. Users simply need to step up to the AR Smart Mirror and it will automatically scan your body. Then it will generate a real-time customized avatar using AI technology. Then the AR Smart Mirror can be your personal virtual fashion assistant. It will suggest the right sizing of the clothes and create a 3D version for the avatar to try on. Therefore users will be able to check the fit in real-time.

“We are honored to partner with LG in introducing AR Smart Mirror to the world for the first time. As the world’s leading company in 3D garment simulation, CLO Virtual Fashion will continue to innovate, leading the field of fashion tech,” said CTO of BENEFIT BY CLO, Sean Jeon.

The AR Smart Mirror Platform

With the AR Smart Mirror Platform, customers will be able to buy their clothes online. Furthermore, the platform will also provide valuable data about garments, designs, and the latest trends.

HONORABLE MENTION

SKonec Entertainment

SKonec Entertainment Korean Tech StartupKorean VR startup SKonec Entertainment provides the development and service of VR content. They recently opened a VR multiplex called VR SQUARE. Their most notable games are the VR arcade games Beat Saber and Battle Arena: Mortal Blitz.  Battle Arena: Mortal Biltz is a VR first-person shooter which can handle up to 4 players. This is SKonec Entertainment’s main franchise and hopes it will become one of the main players in the VR esports space.

EVR Studio

Korean Tech Startup EVRKorean tech startup EVR studio makes VR content more immersive and attractive for users by using real-life interactive characters. Their most famous game is called “Project M”. It is a world where users can connect with digital AI characters. Therefore EVR Studio is focused on creating highly realistic characters. Furthermore, EVR studio has a team of professionals in the fields of game development, Hollywood VFX graphics, engineering, fashion, writing, and photography. In addition, EVR Studio has gotten seed funding from Altos Ventures and Kakao Ventures.

TEGWAY

Korean VR Startup TEGWAYKorean VR startup TEGWAY is a startup that specializes in making the world’s first useable flexible thermoelectric devices (FTED) and its applications. Their technology is enhancing and revolutionizing technology in the thermoelectric field. TEGWAY’s FTED performs better than a traditional TED because it is flexible, thin, light, and responds instantly. Therefore with FTED, there are no application design restraints or limitations. They launched a VR headset that is equipped with a temperature sensor called ThermoReal. Furthermore, they have a verbal agreement with Sony to introduce a TEGWAY VR headset for PlayStation. ThermoReal can detect high and low temperatures in real-time. It can not only be applied to VR equipment, but also beauty products, and automobiles. Furthermore, they will be doing a joint venture with Canada’s AI professional accelerator called Happysona.

Awards to date.

  • The UNESCO Netexplo Award in 2015
  • The Africa Development Award in 2018
  • Seoul VR/AR Device Awards in 2019