Synthetic Reality: Our next Betaworks Camp

by Peter Rojas

For the past couple of years we've been doing Betaworks Camps, a program for startups building in emerging categories. Founders work out of our offices in NYC for 3 months & @betaworksVC makes an investment. Each has a theme, next one we're doing is around "Synthetic Reality".

Unlike Camps we've done in the past (which had themes like AR and voice-computing), Synthetic Reality is still very early not as well-defined. But what we're talking about are new technologies that are blurring the boundaries between what is real and what is synthetic.

There are a few different aspects of Synthetic Reality we're interested in. There's synthetic media, where powerful new tools for creating highly-realistic computer-generated imagery are increasingly accessible to anyone with a decent laptop or smartphone. Synthetic media will be to CGI what social media was to publishing. Driving this are huge advances in motion capture, pose estimation, 3D graphics software, and GPUs.

Another part of synthetic media is algorithmically-generated content, which often uses tools like generative adversarial networks to create, enhance, or edit media far more efficiently than could be done by humans. We'd also put news articles "written" by AI in this category.

Related to all this is the new world of digital avatars and virtual celebrities/influencers that use these tools. Lil Miquela is an obvious reference point, but we're also fascinated by avatars more generally and new kinds of social products that are being built around those.

Like a lot of people we're also concerned about DeepFakes and content that's been manipulated for the express purpose of deceiving people. We believe the need for software-based tools for detecting fakes is going to grow exponentially.

What kinds of startups do we want for Synthetic Camp? We want anyone building deep tech for enabling synthetic reality; consumer-facing applications for creating and/or distributing synthetic media; avatar-based social products; anything related to virtual celebrities/influencers; platforms for distributing/sharing synthetic media; and software tools for detecting fakes or otherwise altered content and media.

Synthetic Camp is for both pre-seed & seed stage startups. @betaworksVC will invest $200K into each participant. The program kicks off in February in NYC. It's an oppt. to work closely with us & a bunch of other startups all trying to define the future of a new category. 10/X

Want to apply? Go HERE.

Any questions? Email me HERE.