×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

VR Veterans Launch Startup for Intelligent AR Avatars

Two veterans of immersive storytelling have banded together for a new Los Angeles-based augmented reality (AR) startup: Former Felix & Paul chief content officer Ryan Horrigan and former Milk VR and VRSE.works producer Armando Kirwin unveiled their new startup Artie Thursday, laying out a vision to bring intelligent avatars everywhere.

“VR and AR are the first media where you can be part of the story,” said Horrigan during a recent interview with Variety. “But you can’t talk to characters. You can’t have human interactions with characters. We felt this was a big problem.”

Artie aims to solve that problem with a suite of tools that it calls its “Wonderfriend Engine,” which aim to help creators to build interactive avatars for mobile AR experiences. The software integrates with existing real-time rendering engines like Unity and Unreal, and makes use of object recognition, natural language processing and even sentiment analysis for more life-like interactions.

“As a creative, having a tool where the story could change based on my audience being happy or sad in real-time is fascinating,” said Kirwin. Currently, Artie’s software is capable of detecting seven prime emotions based on facial expressions. In the coming months, this is supposed to expand to 30 emotions. In addition to detecting emotions, Artie’s engine can also recognize around 80 objects, including coffee mugs, chairs and refrigerators.

The duo decided to focus on AR as opposed to VR to achieve maximum distribution for its avatars, but Horrigan and Kirwin quickly realized that a large footprint of phones capable of running AR doesn’t guarantee that anyone will install or even use them.

“Right now, AR experiences are stuck in the App Store,” said Horrigan. “The distribution angle needs to change to really see meaningful discovery and shareability and thus virality.” That’s why Artie is looking to empower creators to build AR avatars for the web, which can be easily shared with a link and on social media.

Artie is targeting both Hollywood and social media influencers, with Kirwin arguing that studios could create avatars of their stars to promote new movies, complete with a call to action. “For example, a Wolverine avatar that’s marketing a Marvel ‘X-Men’ movie could actually sell you a movie ticket at the end,” he said.

Artie has been backed by Jeff Katzenberg’s WndrCo., Founders Fund, the Venture Reality Fund, M Ventures, DCG’s Metaverse Ventures, and angel investors including Cyan Banister, YouTube founder Chad Hurley and Ubiquity6 Co-founder and CEO Anjney Midha. The company had already begun to onboard strategic developers ahead of an official launch of the platform in the first quarter of next year.

More Digital

  • Google Home entryway

    NPR Has Turned 'Wait Wait... Don’t Tell Me' Into a Game for Smart Speakers

    NPR has turned its popular “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” news quiz show into an interactive game for smart speakers: Owners of speakers powered by Google’s Assistant or Amazon Alexa will be able to play along to questions about the news of the week. Just like the radio show, the quiz is being hosted by [...]

  • WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01

    BritBox Subscribers Hit Half a Million

    The number of subscribers to BritBox has hit 500,000, the streaming service said Thursday. The platform, launched as a collaboration between BBC Studios and ITV, is designed to offer U.S. and Canadian viewers the best of recent and classic British television content. The streaming service launched in the U.S. in March 2017 with a host of [...]

  • Andy Yeatman - Moonbug

    Andy Yeatman, Former Netflix Head of Kids Content, Lands at Startup Moonbug (EXCLUSIVE)

    Andy Yeatman has joined children’s entertainment startup Moonbug Entertainment to oversee North America operations, after he exited Netflix a little over a year ago. Moonbug, dual-headquartered in London and L.A., has set out on a mission to acquire “fun and safe” kids’ entertainment properties and develop new content and businesses based on them. Yeatman, as head [...]

  • Sony Innovation Fund Invests in Location

    Sony Invests in Geolocation Startup Used to Shoot ‘Ready Player One’

    Sony’s venture capital arm, the Sony Innovation Fund, has invested in London-based What3words, a geolocation startup that aims to provide human-readable and easily shareable names for each and every location on the planet. What3words was previously used to share locations for the production of Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One,” and has also had cameos in [...]

  • Netflix and Amazon on Different Sides

    Netflix and Amazon Take Different Sides on Content Regulation in India

    Netflix and other leading streaming video platforms have signed an agreement to self-regulate content in the booming Indian market. But Amazon and Facebook are so far sitting out. The new “Code of Best Practices for Online Curated Content Providers,” created by the Internet and Mobile Assn. of India, has been signed by Netflix, Hotstar, Sony Liv, [...]

  • A view of the SK Telecom

    Korean OTT Players, SK Telecom Join Forces to Compete Against Netflix

    South Korea’s three major broadcasters KBS, MBC and SBS have joined forces with the country’s leading telecom firm, SK Telecom, to launch a new video streaming platform. The move is regarded as a defensive reaction against the growing influence of foreign competitors, lead by Netflix. The broadcasters already jointly own Pooq, with MBC and SBS [...]

  • Magic leap Is Hiring to Build

    Magic Leap Plans to Expand to Mobile AR

    Magic Leap is getting ready to embrace augmented reality (AR) on mobile devices. The company is currently looking to hire a senior software engineer for mobile AR, who will be tasked with “expanding Magic Leap’s platform to mobile devices,” according to a new job listing. A Magic Leap spokesperson declined to comment. Magic Leap released [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content