Windup Minds, a recently unveiled XR studio, has managed to secure an impressive $1.6 million in seed investment. This financial backing is set to propel the studio’s immersive experiences centered around virtual pets and companions.
A Team of VR Veterans
The studio was founded earlier this year by a formidable quartet of seasoned VR developers: Bernard Yee, Ben Vance, Amy Conchie, and Stefani Swiatkowski. These talented individuals boast an impressive track record, having worked at major companies like Oculus, WeVR, Microsoft, EA, and more. Their portfolios include notable projects such as Oculus demo endeavors like Bogo, Toy Box, and First Steps, as well as mainstream gaming hits like Destiny, Plants vs. Zombies, and Dishonored.
Seed Investment Leaders
Windup Minds’ journey is bolstered by a substantial seed investment led by prominent entities in the VR and gaming sphere. The Venture Reality Fund, Acequia Capital, and New Leaf Ventures are at the forefront of this investment initiative. Additionally, key figures in the industry have shown their support, including Nate Mitchell (founder of Oculus), Eden Chen (founder of Pragma; Riot Games), James Gwertzman (founder of Playfab; PopCap/EA), Tom Sanocki (Oculus; Pixar), Greg Essig (Apple), and Anthony Batt (Outsider DAO).
A Vision of Virtual Creatures
Windup Minds has unveiled its ambitious plan to bring forth a “virtual creature experience for mixed and virtual reality platforms.” This announcement underscores the studio’s clear focus on creating lifelike virtual companions that can resonate with users on a profound level. Windup Minds firmly believes that by blending immersive XR technology with cutting-edge AI, they can craft virtual companions that surpass anything experienced to date.
The Power of XR in Building Emotional Connections
According to co-founder Bernard Yee, XR technology holds a unique capability to forge emotional connections with virtual characters. Yee states, “The medium of XR is uniquely capable of building emotional connections with characters as vibrant and three-dimensional as any pet.” He goes on to recount an intriguing anecdote from the past, when the team developed “Dreamdeck,” an early Oculus demo experience. Yee recalls, “When we built Dreamdeck for Mark [Zuckerberg] and Brendan [Iribe] to announce the Rift headset at the first Oculus Connect, we saw players tear their prototype headsets off when our T-Rex came towards them. They intellectually knew they were in a little demo cubicle, but their instinctual brains told them ‘there’s a dinosaur in the room with you.’ VR and MR can make you feel like your digital pet is real—and no other medium can do this.”
The Future of Windup Minds
While Windup Minds has generated considerable buzz in the VR community, they have not yet indicated a specific timeline for the announcement or launch of their first virtual pet experience. However, their promising vision and the support they have garnered from both investors and industry pioneers certainly make them a studio to watch.
In conclusion, Windup Minds’ successful seed funding of $1.6 million represents a significant step forward in the realm of virtual reality and immersive experiences. With a team of accomplished VR developers at the helm and a clear focus on creating lifelike virtual pets, Windup Minds is poised to push the boundaries of what XR technology can achieve. The future holds exciting prospects for this innovative studio, and enthusiasts of virtual reality and digital companions eagerly await their next move.