Project Title: Wearable Virtual Reality Camera

Defiiant Technologies logoTeam 15068 Members:
Rubi Ballesteros, electrical and computer engineering
Cory Boone, optical sciences and engineering
Brian Herrera, optical sciences and engineering
David Rico, systems engineering
Andrew Sharpe, mechanical engineering
Robert Starr, electrical and computer engineering
Zhaolong Zhang, electrical and computer engineering

Sponsor: Defiiant Technologies

Entrepreneur wears all the hats, and the camera

Brian Herrera of Defiiant Technologies and Team 15068 at Engineering Design Day 2016Brian Herrera didn’t have an outside sponsor for his team’s 2016 senior design project. His virtual reality startup was the sponsor.

Herrera also supervised two student teams. One from UA Engineering worked on a prototype; the other, from the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program, focused on commercialization and won third place in the program’s annual business plan competition.

Herrera’s project, a wearable virtual reality camera called Vidi VR, is the first product to emerge from Tucson-based Defiiant Technologies.

“It has two eyes – just like you,” Herrera said of his company’s name.

Seeing the world through more than one lens is the essence of 3-D imagery. The easy-to-use, portable Vidi VR system, which integrates two lenses into a wraparound headset, is worn on the forehead and captures whatever imagery the user sees and wants to record.

The Engineering team’s headset prototype was hard-wired to a battery-powered processor that fed images to a Wi-Fi-enabled smartphone. When the smartphone was plugged into a $10 3-D headset, the virtual reality show was ready for viewing.

Next up: a smartphone app that will enable sharing of the virtual reality experiences.

“We want you to share a whole interactive experience in VR,” said Herrera, who envisions a social media community of Vidi VR users.

During the recent eMerge Americas startup conference in Miami, Vidi VR garnered quite a bit of interest from digital marketers.

“Social media marketing is huge,” Herrera said. “We’re excited to serve them.”

As Herrera’s UA days come to an end – he’s just six credits away from an optical sciences and engineering degree – he is turning his attention to recruiting talent to help him grow the company and seeking patent protection.

Shortly after he showcased his efforts at Design Day, Herrera pitched the Defiiant vision to judges at the 2016 Perkins Coie Innovative Minds Challenge. The result was a six-month fellowship in the Arizona Center for Innovation’s Mentored Launch program. The fellowship includes office space – and access to the equipment needed to build more sophisticated prototypes – at the UA Tech Park. Defiiant also was awarded $2,500 by the student entrepreneurship group InnovateUA.