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Birdly Case Study: All Eyes On You

“swissnex was a great platform to host our project. With their support we immediately made connections with people from the local universities, companies, investors,  designers, artists, and media,” said Max Rheiner, of the Zurich University of the Arts and creator of the Birdly virtual reality flight simulator.  “We could show our work at their space and use their infrastructure to plan future collaborations with the contacts we gain from the Bay Area.”

While in San Francisco in 2014 for a series of events at swissnex San Francisco, Birdly drew attention from media outlets including Wired and Vice, and formed solid connections to relevant local industry leaders at Google, Oculus, and Logitech through our introductions and exposure. Soon after, they took the top prize at the 2014 SIGGRAPH Augmented/Virtual Reality Contest in Vancouver, B.C., and were selected to participate in the Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier installation in early 2015.

Rheiner and team went on in 2015 to found a company, SOMNIACS, and create a commercial version of their product. Rheiner also appeared at Sundance NEXT FEST in Los Angeles, and he and some students collaborated with VR pioneer Mark Bolas, Director for Mixed Reality Research at the Institute for Creative Technologies at USC, in the former lab of Oculus founder Palmer Luckey. Birdly has also toured the swissnex network globally.

Faceshift Case Study: Startup Success

Faceshift, maker of motion capture technology recently used in Star Wars that can animate avatars—in real-time—based on people’s emotions, was a resident Swiss startup at swissnex San Francisco in the CTI Market Entry Camp back in 2013. We also featured them in an exhibit we curated called Game Gazer, where Faceshift’s technology served as the underlying foundation for an artistic work titled Mimicry, made by then student game designers (now Apelab). 

After completing the startup Camp, swissnex continued to assist Faceshift, an EPFL and ETH Zurich spin-off, to enable their presence in Silicon Valley and San Francisco at events like GDC (the Game Developers Conference). 

When we interviewed Faceshift CTO Brian Amberg in 2013 he said he wanted nothing short of democratizing animation through motion capture and revolutionizing the way people communicate. Looks like they’re well on their way to doing just that. In the fall of 2015, the company was acquired by Apple. 

Photo: Myleen Hollero