Hyderabad-based Imaginate, a virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) company, is the developer of NuSpace, a hardware-agnostic collaboration platform that enables people to communicate in an interactive realistic virtual world. NuSpace was rated as the most innovative and high potential product by Nasscom in 2016. Founded by Hemanth Satyanarayana, a graduate from IIT-Madras with a masters in augmented reality from State University of New York, Imaginate today is present in virtually every sector from defense to retail.
“Our product NuSpace is like the Webex of VR and AR. It will revolutionise the way people collaborate and learn by leveraging the best of both—a physical classroom-like environment and the ease of a digital conferencing platform like Webex or Skype,” explains Satyanarayana. NuSpace finds utilisation in specialised industrial training, engineering design, remote maintenance and repair.
“With just a 2 Mbps connection, every NuSpace user can communicate with others across geographies through their realistic avatars. This is less than the minimum internet speed that a HD video connection would need,” he says.
With NuSpace, one can be wearing a mixed reality device like HoloLens from Microsoft while others can be wearing Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Samsung Gear VR, Google Cardboard, etc. This specific ability of NuSpace to be hardware agnostic makes it easy for companies to hop on to the platform. “We are working on a few pilots with large corporations such as Dassault Systèmes, Pratt&Whitney, Honeywell, etc. With the Dassault pilot, we intend to provide better support to CATIA and DELMIA model format in NuSpace and make our customers’ engineering data accessible in the platform,” Satyanarayana adds.
Some of the popular collaboration platforms in VR include AltspaceVR and vTime that operate in the social networking space.
The imagination at Imaginate has not stopped with commercial and field level implementations. “We want to enter medical education with our specialised solutions like LiVAR,” says Satyanarayana. LiVAR is an AR solution that indicates open liver surgery. It processes the CT scan of liver and generates a 3D model with tumor bodies.
With a revenue target of Rs 6 crore, Satyanarayana is aiming for Rs 100 crore turnover in the next five years besides entering the US market with more AR and VR solutions. In the line, are more AR/VR solutions in the fields of retail, defence, entertainment and healthcare.
The start-up raised about Rs 3.5 crore from SRI Capital, a seed stage venture fund based in Philadelphia recently. Imaginate’s early seed investor IIIT-Hyderabad has exited with this funding round.
Satyanarayana is no stranger to entrepreneurship. His first venture was called Dressy—a plug and play virtual fitting room —which won the NEXT B2B award at World Economic Forum (Global Shapers Frankfurt) in 2014. “In 2010, the concept of AR was not known at all and that was the time when we started TrialAR which was a ‘magic mirror’ to try out sarees and sherwanis. However, we found that it was not profitable and got no funding as well,” says Satyanarayana. “But we moved on. Dressy, which was conceptualised in 2011, attracted a lot of interest from e-commerce start-ups and apparel stores as it is a plug-in model for uploading costume pictures.”
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Satyanarayana has over 12 years of experience working in product management and development in VR and AR platforms in the US and India. He won the prestigious MIT TR35 India Innovator award and also got featured as a technology pioneer on Lufthansa – Pioneering Spirit televison programme on in 2012. He is also co-holder of a couple of patents in virtual collaborative shopping and virtual locomotion controller filed in the US and India. Earlier, he had pioneered the development of image-guided liver surgery apparatus using a Google Glass-like device, for a Children’s Hospital in Buffalo, USA.