It was only a few years ago that VR was the craze in South Korea. Now thanks to the buzz around the metaverse, VR startups in Korea are looking to cash in on this immersive experience. The global VR market is estimated to be worth over $15 billion. Companies all around the world understand that the metaverse has the potential to open the door for new experiences, technologies, and innovation. With the announcement by Facebook of their metaverse,  South Korean VR startups are looking to incorporate their technology and services for businesses looking to enter this new and exciting space. This is even more important now than ever before due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Korea is home to some of the top emerging players in the VR industry. For those interested in learning about AR startups in Korea we have that article here.

Here are the top 10 VR startups in Korea that are utilizing the 3D 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 VR Startups in Korea

1. ZEPETO by Naver

Korean AR Startup Zepeto

ZEPETO is currently the top metaverse platform in South Korea. It was created by Naver in collaboration with an Android game developer. ZEPETO has raised $190 million from Korean and foreign investors including HYBE the agency behind BTS and Softbank which runs the world’s largest tech fund. The fund will be used to expand ZEPETO to the global market.

ZEPETO allows users to create 3D avatar characters so they can interact with others online. The aim is to build a more comprehensive metaverse that can be accessed using smartphones, PCs, game consoles, and VR headsets. Users can also develop their own games/items and make a profit. NFTs could also be incorporated in the future. Currently, ZEPETO has 2 million active daily users and continues to grow.

2. DoubleMe

Korean VR Startups - DoubleMeKorean Metaverse startup DoubleMe offers a hologram-based mixed reality service for consumers. This is possible due to Korea’s strong 5G infrastructure. Therefore, their aim is to build holograms in digital spaces that can reflect the physical world. Their service offers a two-way hologram mixed reality where users can independently create their own hologram within the system. Moreover, AI technology will be used to create holograms from photos taken with a 3D camera. Then users can use wearable devices for virtual meetings. The ultimate goal is to have users only use their smartphones or computers to view the hologram content.

Using hologram technology, companies will be able to create high-quality content for the virtual world. This allows users to view the virtual world much like they would in the physical world.

Supported by Samsung and SK Telecom

In late 2020, DoubleMe was selected for both SK Telecom’s True Innovation Program, as well as Samsung’s C-Lab Outside program. The startup has gained a lot of traction since COVID as big telecommunication companies are looking for technologies that offer solutions for direct contact with others. TwinWorld, their social holographic reality application, offers both holographic entertainment and teleconferencing solutions. TwinWold can be used as experience centers which are rooms that provide everyday users to meet virtually face to face. So far, there are 13 TwinWorld experience centers that are in operation around the world. Therefore DoubleMe has already partnered with 12 other global telecom operators.

To date, DoubleMe has raised over $12.8 million.

3. Looxid Labs

Korean Tech Startup Looxid LabsVR startups in Korea – 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 users’ 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 2021 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.

Looxid Link

Looxid Labs has created a brainwave interface that enables VR users to control experiences simply using their brainwaves. It is called Looxid Link and the first trial version was released in early 2020. It has a foam facial interface with EEG sensors that are built-in. Currently, it is a developer kit that is supplied with its own SDK which supports Unity. Furthermore, Looxid Link includes access to several demo applications that can be used to train users’ attention. The end goal is to ensure compatibility between brain-sensing technology and major VR headsets for VR-ready PCs.

LUCY

LUCY is a VR brain training tool for people 50 and above. It helps improve cognitive function by focusing on attention, memory, and perception and gathering data on behavioral responses. In addition, it provides a full health report for the users. It is both portable and easy to use. LUCY comes with a wireless VR headset with AI technology that allows the software to adapt to each individual user. Therefore, it can be used in homes or as a part of a larger community (elderly care homes/retirement homes).

4. Urbanbase

Korean Tech Startup UrbanbaseKorean 3D spatial data platform startup Urbanbase creates VR 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, but users can also 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 50 partnerships with furniture and home appliance companies. Therefore they have over 8,000 items available on their VR platform. They are also working with real estate companies to offer VR space tours for apartment buildings in Korea. Their plans for 2022 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. MARVRUS

MARVRUS

MARVRUS is a VR Content startup that developed a VR Teleport English tool called SPEAKIT. It uses realistic content using VR, the solution exposes the learners to real-life situations such as making hotel reservations, visiting the immigration office, attending schools abroad, and doing a job interview. Therefore it uses images and videos taken from real situations and allows users to speak with native English speakers. Therefore learners can practice real-life situations over and over again from the comfort of their homes. SPEAKIT has over 100 episodes in cities like New York, London, and Sydney. It is the ultimate immersive VR learning program.

“The basic idea of SPEAKIT is that users can go abroad to learn English in a second. Based on realistic content using VR, the solution exposes the learners to real-life situations such as making a hotel reservation, visiting an immigration office, attending a school overseas, or having a job interview,” said the CEO of MARVUS Lim Sera.

AI Voice Recognition Technology

The students wear VR headsets that are attached to a smartphone. The VR tool allows students more personalized feedback using voice processing technology. They have their own emotional AI technology that is capable of analyzing the user’s voice, pronunciation, and intonation. In addition, it can analyze the user’s facial expressions and feelings like fear or nervousness. Moreover, this technology will be even better with 5G technology. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a huge demand for non-contact education solutions. MARVUS is already in China and Japan and will be looking to expand to other countries. The company is clearly showing a new direction for the future of education.

6. Gaudio Lab

Gaudio Labs Korean Tech StartupKorean VR startups – 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 the 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 StartupVR startups in Korea – 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 faces of people to generate 3D virtual images. The startup is also creating an AR game called Mossland by raising funds via an ICO. Moreover, 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 2022 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 2022.

8. JoyFun

JoyFun
JoyFun creates VR content in South Korea. They are one of the few Korean VR Startups that focuses solely on VR content. They develop content based on VR and MR technology. JoyFun has the world’s most accurate and fastest technology for extracting human skeleton information by just using a camera. Their main product is called JoyFitness and is uses unmanned AI Personal Training content that can be used in the gym. It uses the extracted skeleton information to develop a home training content. Therefore, users can learn and work out without the help of a human fitness trainer. In addition, JoyFun has created JoyCrowd, a crowdfunding platform to accelerate the advancement of VR technology.

9. THIRTEENTH FLOOR

Korean Tech Startup Thirteenth FloorKorean VR startups 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. 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 the 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. Furthermore, 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. SKonec Entertainment

SKonec Entertainment Korean VR StartupsKorean VR startups 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 that 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.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

EVR Studio

Korean VR Startups - EVRKorean VR startups – 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 has a team of professionals in the fields of game development, Hollywood VFX graphics, engineering, fashion, writing, and photography.

TEGWAY

TEGWAY - Korean VR Startups

Korean VR startups TEGWAY is a startup that specializes in making the world’s first useable flexible thermoelectric devices (FTED) and their 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. One of their products includes a VR headset that is equipped with a temperature sensor called ThermoReal. ThermoReal can detect high and low temperatures in real-time and can be applied to VR equipment, 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