In Episode #4 of the AR/VR Magazine Podcast, we interview Tim Akgül, who is the program manager for the upcoming hubraum Mixed Reality Program with NREAL.
Deutsche Telekom’s tech incubator, hubraum, will be hosting a DEMO DAY on March 17th and Tim talks about the event and the exciting lineup of keynotes and startups that will be presenting that day. He also discusses some of the XR tech that will be discussed at the show, and even hinted at some “surprises.”
- Hubraum – https://www.hubraum.com/
- hubraum Mixed Reality Program with NREAL DEMO DAY on March 17th – https://hopin.com/events/hubraum-mixed-reality-program-with-nreal-demo-day
This episode is sponsored by hubraum – Join the Mixed Reality Demo Day by Deutsche Telekom’s Tech Incubator hubraum – with NREAL as leading Partner. Supported by UNITY, Qualcomm & MobiledgeX – check out what’s NEXT in 2021! You can tune in to see the LIVE DEMOS from 7:30AM-12PM by following the link:
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Full Podcast Transcript:
Hey everybody, this is Sean from AR/VR Magazine and in today’s episode, I’m joined by Tim Akgül, who is the program manager for the upcoming hubraum Mixed Reality Program with NREAL. They’re having a demo day on March 17th and Tim is here to talk about the event and the exciting lineup of keynotes and startups that will be presenting on that day.
So with that said, I’ll see you in the episode!
This episode is sponsored by Hubraum – Join the Mixed Reality Demo Day by Deutsche Telekom’s Tech Incubator hubraum – with NREAL as leading Partner. Supported by UNITY, Qualcomm & MobiledgeX – check out what’s NEXT in 2021! You can tune in to see the LIVE DEMOS from 7:30AM-12PM by following the link https://www.hubraum.com/mixed-reality-program/
Welcome to the AR/VR Magazine podcast. Your source for news, trends and analysis of the AR, VR and immersive technology industry.
And now your host, Sean Early.
Everybody is Sean Earley from ARVR magazine. today I am joined by Tim Akgül, who is a program manager for the upcoming hubraum Mixed Reality program with NREAL. They’re having a demo day on March 17th and Tim is here to talk about the event and the exciting lineup of keynotes and startups that will be presenting on that day.
So, Tim, how’s it going, man? Thanks for being on the show.
So, tell me about hubraum and what what is hubraum?
Yeah, thanks for having me first. So my name is Tim. I’m a program manager for hubraum. For those of you who might have noticed, you have to promise the incubator of a tech incubator of Deutsche Telekom. We are located in Berlin, in Germany, and we basically have also an international footprint. So it’s not only about Berlin and the local ecosystem, but also around Europe especially. So we have a big coworking space and activities happening in Krakow, Poland.
But yeah, as well in Tel Aviv, not as a coworking space, but an office also and representatives in Tel Aviv. And generally speaking, to understand this group home is not externally, it’s not an own entity. We are officially Deutsche Telekom. We have an own brand as some point, but we are we are basically the incubation arm and startup engagement arm of Deutsche Telekom around the world and located specifically in Europe.
So how long is hubraum been around?
So yeah, already since quite some time. So we are not here just since a couple of years or something. But already since 2012 when hubraum was founded, the telecom understood that it’s important to engage with the developer ecosystem, with product, with the network, with infrastructure, and also to just bring up possibilities for developer startups and let’s say also sometimes even middle-sized companies to towards our own customers to bring solutions, apps, products to the market together, or could develop Chalfont or even investigate on a technical infrastructure, whether they are some aspects.
And we are there since 2012, as mentioned. And we have had to, I think, very interesting and exciting journey in the past week, starting from basics such as having a coworking space for us and having coffee with with a good coffee machine for everyone and in the nicest place with a gym and table tennis to we have an own dedicated fund where we can do investments at the beginning, up to 300 K nowadays up to one million with one time payments of 300 k then follow up investments up to one million and dedicated the innovation programs that we run together with our internal stakeholders.
And it is a really intense, you know, job that we actually do. Because if you don’t do that on your own, if you do that based on real needs of customers or real needs of business units and commercial owners, it then you have to do that for a very it’s a dedicated perspective of what kind of needs to be catered for with with innovators as well. And so we bring those two worlds together detuned and the startup world. And usually there is a lot of very exciting things happening between those two layers.
Well, speaking of exciting things, you have a demo day coming up with a big focus on mixed reality, what’s going on there?
So last year we have started a mixed reality program with NREAL. And when when we started that, actually it was a logical follow up of activities that we actually run for three years now. So around two or three years ago, we started specifically looking into use cases and products from an infrastructure and network technology layer, such as how can each computing be a benefit for different new use cases in the market? And there was always the question on what kind of use case really needs the lowest latency.
So it was quite, quite a technical question that we had. And we run a prototyping program around that 16 startups around the globe participated on it. And we gained quite some knowledge out of that. And we supported quite some teams which are until today, still working with us. Then after that, there was the big new topic in the market and we were the first operator, I think even in the world that opened up our trading network infrastructure for 5G, for developers, or it was from the beginning and for us an ecosystem play.
And here we jumped even stronger into technologies and use case areas such as gaming or entertainment. So any kind of also consumer focused topics. But it was still a very early stage. There was no life safety network there. And out of that, we actually even followed the path further and narrowed it down to further activities, such as what kind of 5G especially interesting in the consumer entertainment area. So we run in 2020, a program with quake capital from the U.S. and with our own media group, a big publishing and media company in Germany, a dedicated program that we brought in, again, specific companies and especially gaming and entertainment section.
And now the next step, the next evolution for us was what is actually coming up. And it was mainly the question on how this mixed reality, VR, how are these use cases and products being commercialized, especially so not anymore that much of exploration, but already going into creating an actual impact for customers. This is an area where we work with and really the new market leader of the market, a really very interesting market right now when it comes to mix reality glasses.
And we were the first ones running an incubation program together with and real as a partner. And now we see the outcome out of that. And this is going to be on the 17th of March as a kind of demo day with 13 partners pitching what they have done and exciting corporate partners participating on it. Right, so you have to have a ton of startups there and you also have NREAL, you have Qualcomm, you have Unity, they’re all going to be doing keynotes.
So that sounds really exciting. Really looking forward to that. Maybe go into… you mentioned in a little bit. I mean, obviously for people who aren’t so up to speed with immersive technology, I mean, these are three key players here. I mean, how do they come into the play here?
So, actually, when you look into those three key players from a corporate perspective, these are the ones where really things get interesting. So on the one side, you have or you have actually four different layers. So on the one side, you have those companies that create the apps, the new technologies or the new experiences for customers. And this sounds very narrow, but we have to mention it a little bit this way, because depending on which layer you want to go down, you will find interesting mix reality.
It can be, for example, and productivity and collaboration area where it’s more about, for example, holographic avatars, where you talk to each other and have a more realistic feeling of the other when you talk and and get in contact with other people instead of only having a ZOOM call. For example, when you talk about gaming interest in companies and that they are so basically our entertainment and shopping experiences where you really feel and experience the whatever product you want to plug, for example.
So maybe the new shoe or any kind of clothes or anything, you can actually experience that or even seconds being an extended screen, experiences where you not only watch TV, but watch TV and have additionally around your TV additional displayed content, such as maybe on a soccer pitch the next to the actual pitch where they play or statistics on an avatar of the players or in basketball. We have done that as a proof of concept. So all of these things come from one specific player, which is the developer, the app developers, the innovators.
And now those ones, especially when it comes to mix strategy, they need they need them from a hardware perspective, not just the smartphone, but especially with those use cases I mentioned. It is super interesting to not have this as a glass case on your face, because the smartphone, in a way, is not really that natural when it comes to the smartphone is still something that you need to hold in your hand. You need to put it in front of your face.
You need to walk around with it. It doesn’t feel natural. So there’s a logical way to the next step, which is having it actually right in front of your eyes. This is why the company and really comes into play and really is the first time I mean, we have seen in the last year often interesting companies in that mix reality glasses, glasses area. But we have one company in there right now from China that does something a bit different.
You have, first of all, interesting tech implemented in the real you have a good field of side. You have an actual 3D high quality content in front of you. But if you have not yet seen the end real, I would say Google and Rio, because you will see it has also a super nice and exciting form factor. And this is often a key point because the fact of the unreal, it’s not heavy, it’s not that big.
You can put it on your face, you can carry it around you. And the reason for that is because it actually floats or gets most or some part of its actual processing and in some of its computing power, it just gets that out of the smartphone where it’s tethered to.
So in a way, still it needs to have a smartphone that works with the real. But the nice part is you can basically have a smart glass on your face that does not really it’s not that heavy. So you can also use it a bit longer. So if you have a VR, let’s say, a device on your face, you will experience that. It’s quite heavy at some time. It gets quite upset some time and it might be a little bit annoying to have it more than maybe 20 or 30 minutes on your face.
This is different with the general so you can use it on land. Experience is nice and down to the to the last one. So we got unity and we got Qualcomm as the corporate partners to participate in this program. And we are super happy about these partnerships because as mentioned, Qualcomm, they created from the hardware level, especially the Qualcomm processor, Snapdragon processors that enabled mixed reality use cases for. First of all, and then we have Unity where most of the developments of startups or developers themselves, they deploy, they develop, they create their apps and unity.
So this is this are the really exciting partners to talk to, to work with. And they were participating in this innovation program with us and supported the developers that we brought to the table with dedicated workshops, dedicated sessions, you UI technical support, dedicated on specific technical support for developers, from unity from Qualcomm, but also from Enrile directly. So it was a big chance for those developers to had to get a hands on and direct feedback loop to those companies that were just mentioned.
I personally am really excited about this event. I mean, I’ve been to a lot of immersive tech events in the past. I don’t know, four or five, six years. This one specifically has is sort of it jumped out because I think I mean, correct me if I’m wrong, but I really think we I think VR kind of had a rise.
It kind of fell out a little bit. Everybody was sort of teasing, augmented in mixed reality and everything. And, you know, like you said, there are a lot of different sort of headsets that we’ve seen that prototypes of and a few sort of bulky examples. But I really feel like and I think it’s really kind of an interesting statement from Deutsche Telekom as well, to to really kind of package this as an event that kind of mean kind of touching on sort of a new phase of of mixed reality where we’re talking about.
I mean, I don’t know if the the devices have a certain classification now, but, you know, it’s really sort of the mobile optical ah experience that we’ve kind of been hoping for. We’ve been talking about for years. It’s kind of sort of starting to take shape, I think, in this this this program, this event is kind of one of the first I’ve seen where it really kind of focuses in on that specifically. Was that was that sort of the intent or it just sort of timing come into play there?
I think it’s both a bit, isn’t it? Because when you look into the and real, it’s last year was at a time where they actually brought something to the to the market where they just started with the offering, also an advocate for developers. So it’s basically, in a way, you’re right, like VR is much more advanced already as a completely different that’s a stage where they’re in right now is for some parts, for some use cases already quite successful.
But on a on a broader and more realistic scale, not yet at the stage from an ecosystem player like we are. I mean, you have like the typical example, such as the Pokemon go example, where there are already masses of people playing and experiencing and enjoying use cases, but it more than only at the end. So and there are much more things that are possible already looking to, for example, the question of cool watching and experiencing content in example or displaying additional content next to your screen that you have maybe on your TV, as I mentioned a bit earlier, are experiencing even products in a different way or having much more, much deeper experiences when it comes to multiplayer activities or interactions with other people.
So right now, still in the market or last year, when you look to the example of Pokemon go and so on, it’s still quite simple, actually.
You still have one player or one person using their smartphone and basically interacting or playing with one object often, which they place in front of them or which they can experience in front of them is not it doesn’t happen right now that often, at least from a bigger scale, that you find use cases where you have now two or three different players or people interacting on one object together or modifying, changing that even in the productivity layer. And that’s a big topic, isn’t it?
Collaboration and industry. So all of this, it’s all there, by the way. It’s not it’s not like that. These things are not they are everything is there right now. But it did not yet have this kind of scale. And we believe that are mixed. Reality will be big, maybe much bigger even than we are. I think it will change everything. And I think we are not the only. Believing this, it’s always a little bit of a question of timing, and I think right now this is exactly the moment where you want to be in that spot.
Where you are right now is the moment where you as a developer, as an investor, as a corporate, also as an operator. I mean, look, I’m speaking here from the perspective of an incubator of Deutsche Telekom, which is and which is an operator where we have the networks, we have connectivity, we have customers and all of that. But we need to also understand what is the next level of innovation in the market? What is the role to play as an operator?
What is the best support of those use cases that a network can give you? And also, how can we even leverage that part for customers? So what are the big benefits and and things that customers from our side will use for at the end also play around with or bring that as a B2B customer, maybe even, or B to B to C customer to us, their customers. So as an operator, we are active in all of the mass.
We are in the B2B area in the B2B to see we are on the B2C, they are ourselves. So in all of those plays, we are creating content, we have music content, we have TV content, and it’s is going to be definitely the future play and something not just to do prototypes in, but actually look into us from a long term commercial impact perspective. Right. And it looks here like you’ll be touching on quite a few of those industries.
You have gaming, you have immersive entertainment TV, you have sports, you have productivity and collaboration. I mean, those are those are big, big, long, deep dives that you could take on each one of those and how they how they integrate with Tzar. And I think with these the new tech that’s coming out, it’s it’s it’s a pretty exciting time. Tell me a little bit about the startups that are going to be pitching there. I mean, how how do they get involved here?
How do you do they do they apply or do you handpick them or how has it worked?
Good question. I actually this is something I would be very keen also to hear and listen to other people how they do it when they run. Incubator programs are excellent programs. But first of all, we are not an accelerator. We are an incubator. There’s a big difference as an incubator. We usually are already interested in having companies participating in programs that already have an existing product or already have some customers or at least a little bit more mature stage.
Nothing where we put, let’s say twenty five or fifty or something as and support budget towards them, but where we believe they already should have more significant funding on their side. So this is a criteria generally when working in programs we support. But if sometimes there can be exceptions, if there’s maybe a developer startup company, which I’m not yet they are, but still might have a very interesting concept, we might be still interested in actually talking to them or bringing them together with the right people.
And so this is our role. But to to to your question, actually. So last year we created an internal jury, which was also topped up with a couple of people also from those companies I mentioned from a real, for example, Qualcomm. So those guys also participated as a jury that looked into a couple of criteria that we used for evaluating some specific startups. And how we actually get to those startups was a big fund. And so around four to five hundred companies were on the long list on our site.
And this can be through referrals internally, through Ferrus, through desktop research by some of our team members and many different sources. So at the end, we had around four to five hundred companies and a long list out of those ones, around 150 applied through our website coupon dot com. So they applied for the mixed reality program with and and we had a couple of, you know, value communications, what they can gain, what what they will get when they participate on the program.
So we received quite some. Now you have to understand, if you only open up your website or whatever sites you use for applications for developers, you often just get companies in there, which, from an opportunistic point of view, just apply because they want to maybe be perceived as a company working with Deutsche Telekom because it’s a good brand. There’s T-Mobile in the US and and etc. We have a footprint. Around Europe and around the globe, so basically there are several reasons just to apply and the wish to participate on it, not because that’s the best fit, but only because they might be interested in being perceived as participating in an activity with Deutsche Telekom.
So we have to make sure that we always actually choose and go for companies where it’s not only about this opportunistic kind of reasons to participate in a program. Additionally, sometimes we just get some applications of developers and startups which are only interested in getting a funding. And also here, as mentioned, it should not only be about funding and having the chance of three hundred or one million of that, but actually getting something done because this number’s at the end are not, as you can imagine, as a as a big corporate.
These are not really huge numbers for us, even from an investment perspective. But it’s more important. What is it actually that those startups developers might bring on the table? And what kind of use case do they work on? And what is it that we can gain with them and what is it that they can gain with us? So it’s always a little bit of an individual kind of checking. So having said that from from Fortune 500 companies on a long list, we jumped to 150 that actually applied and we invited 34 of them to four different pitch days with each around six to eight companies pitching for around 10 minutes in front of the jury I just mentioned.
And then together with the jury, we evaluated those pitches and the content, the product, the potential of user excitement that they have the technical fit for and really the technical fit for duty and infrastructure fit. So all kinds of this criteria were looked into and out of those 34 companies that pitch, we decided to work with 14 at the end. One left the program for some own funding issues that they actually had. So that’s, again, one of the reasons why we believe it’s important that already companies that are in a way stable enough to run and work with corporate such as us.
So 13 made it into the program and those 13 companies will be having their final demo day and pitch on the 17th of March.
Well, I am certainly looking forward to this. I think there’s a lot of really cool stuff that I want to check out for sure, and especially the startups and that new headsets and things. And I think it’s going to be one of the more exciting online webinars I’ve seen in quite a while and definitely very relevant, like you said. And I think the timing is perfect for when this stuff is just starting to roll out. And again, I think it’s really great that Deutsche Telekom is kind of taking a leadership role on just, you know, addressing this on a startup level and incubation level as well.
I think there’s a there’s a whole lot of opportunity in this this area that I think we’re just going to start to start seeing. Tim, if if somebody wants to go to this, how do they how do they attend?
So, they could go to hubraum.com and I think on the side in the navigation, you can click on events and if you scroll a little bit down, but quite at the top already, you would find the announcement about the demo day and there’s just a link to the registration. So we use incubate time. So of course we do. Our demo is purely virtual right now. So that’s the event right now on and on. And by the way, there’s usually we would do all of that and physical events and we would invite fly in all of those companies.
We would grant them access locally to our places. We would invite people and management and have exciting keynotes and then have the pictures live actually on stage with a big audience and music and. All right. So usually it’s a big fun kind of event. And in this case, this is all virtual. So we had to also make this all a little bit shorter. Otherwise, people fall asleep in front of the computer. So we just put it to three hours from start to end and.
So if you want to participate on it, just jump on her to come or follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn or Facebook and all of the social media channels we published also. OK. And you put up with that in the show notes. Definitely.
If you could or you could also jump on that in real directly and see what, because they also could promote the event. So you could also look into it and realize social media channels as well.
Yeah, well, I’m definitely excited about the event and I think everybody should check this out, especially if you’re wondering where the future of mixed reality and augmented reality is going. I think this is this is it here. And I think you’ve got a lot of stuff jammed into three hours here. So I’m really excited. Tim was great having you on the show. Thanks for coming. Anything else you want to add before you sign off?
I’m not really just thanks for having me and hopefully having a couple of more people joining us. So it’s an open, open event. Tech enthusiasts and people who lot of you are always welcome and we don’t buy it. So we are quite open to everyone. So if anybody would like to get in contact or find something interesting for us that we should look into and whether you believe this could be an interesting case or so for maybe a follow up program that we run in twenty, twenty one, the announcement and some longus announcement might be actually also happening on the 17th.
So I’m not allowed to say too much about it, but we will use the 17th as well as an announcement date for a couple of things. Happy to have you there. And then looking forward maybe to any further contact. Well, there’s some secrets happening.
I’m definitely there.
So, thanks for being on the show, Tim. That was really great talking to you.
Thank you, Sean.
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Sean Earley is the podcast host and Executive Editor of AR/VR Magazine, Modern Musician Magazine & co-founder of RobotSpaceship Podcast Network. He is the Director of New Biz Development, PR and Publishing at KEMWEB, a musician, producer & consultant. He loves guitars, VR and coffee.