In late 2015, technology investors in the Pacific Northwest lined up behind a new virtual reality software company, Pixvana. In a round led by the prominent regional tech investment firm, Madrona Venture Group, Pixvana attracted $6 million in seed funding to build a business focused on overcoming the technical challenges of VR video processing.
There are countless potential applications for video VR in business, media, and entertainment. However, those avenues for development will only open when today’s technical limitations are overcome. Pixvana is aiming to do just that. Based in Settle, the startup is creating software that promises to bring video to the world of VR.
Currently, users can enjoy immersive VR with technologies like Oculus Rift or Samsung Gear that allow immersion in static 3-D, 360-degree worlds. On the other hand, animation on these platforms is crippled by low frame rates that make it impossible to produce convincing VR in motion. The technology to process and deliver such great amounts of high-quality video data is simply not yet available.
The founders of Pixvana hope to change that. As VR headset makers improve their own products, Pixvana is planning to produce software systems that will complement those hardware advancements. The startup’s main focus is on developing technology to speed up the processing of video data and efficiently deliver it to a VR headset at frame rates fast enough to create the illusion of “presence” for a user.
The entire field of VR is still in its infancy, of course, so there is plenty of work to do before seamless video VR is a reality. Fortunately, the team behind Pixvana has decades of collective experience in high-end video technologies. CEO and co-founder Forest Key, who formerly led hotel marketing startup Buuteeq, began his career with the visual effects crew at Lucasfilm. He later helped to develop core Internet video technologies such as Adobe’s Flash and Microsoft’s Silverlight.
Pixvana’s other co-founders are no less distinguished. The vice-president of product management, Sean Safreed, co-founded Red Giant, a film software startup. Chief product officer Bill Hensler worked on imaging apps at Apple as senior director of engineering. Chief technology officer Scott Squires also worked at Lucasfilm and has a Sci-Tech Academy Award on his trophy shelf.
With such an experienced team, Pixvana appears primed to make good on its promise to bring video virtual reality to life.