“A perfect reality check for my prototype!”

How Eike Langbehn went from award winner to start-up founder

In 2019 Dr. Eike Langbehn won the DIVR Science Award in the category “best concept” with his “SpaceWalk” demo. This year he his startup “Curvature Games” is nominated for the StartUp-Pitch at the Places _ VR Festival. We talked to him and asked him how he experienced the DIVR Science Award and what happened afterwards.

What was your intention at the time of your application? How did you find out about the application?
I think I saw a poster at the university or I got an email through our university mailing list. And so I thought that this sounds like an ideal opportunity to present the demo that I built as part of my research work.

Very briefly in two sentences for the non-experts: Which project did you apply with and how did it work?
The SpaceWalk is a demonstration of redirected walking technology. It allows users to move around in real space and cover much greater distances in virtual space. For example, you walk in a circle in reality, but in VR you walk straight ahead and thus move over long distances without leaving the room. I worked on the demo itself for about 6 weeks – but the research took about 5 years.

How did you experience the award day itself?
I also took a look at the other projects and was impressed by what was going on. But the best thing was the feedback I got from the visitors on that day. It was a perfect reality check for our then still young start-up idea.

Did you think that you had the chance to win the award?
Not exactly – I thought the whole thing was too highbrow and academic. I would have thought that other projects that are more advanced in terms of content and graphics would have better chances there. But maybe my demo for the category “best concept” was exactly the right one.

What happened after the award? How did the project evolve in the ast year?
With our start-up team (Dennis Briddigkeit and Hannah Paulmann) I was in the incubator at nextMedia.Hamburg from May to October. There we did a lot of coaching on how get going and learned a lot about business. That was all in addition to our regular jobs. Then we applied for the EXIST start-up grant (BMWi) – and were accepted. We are currently working flat out on product development.

What contribution did the award make to the development of the project?
The award day was ideal to find out whether this is not only exciting and relevant for me. The fact that a broader spectrum and also the VR scene appreciated it was a great motivator that drove me through the last year. A great experience!