Epic grant helps Talon, partners cross funding gap on VR


Orlando tech company Talon Simulations has been working in VR for several years.

But CEO Brandon Naids says being on that cutting edge can present a challenge when trying to raise money.

They need funding to build but investors often won’t invest in a product until they see something built. A new grant from the company behind the popular Fortnite video game could help.

A team that includes Talon, Orlando-based Cyber Dream and California’s BeBop Sensors received a grant from Epic Games.

The grant will help the trio work on a full-motion, virtual reality trainer for military and commercial aviation.

“There is only so much we can do to advance our technology without customers and it’s hard to get customers without the technology being advanced,” said Talon CEO Brandon Naids, who would not disclose the amount of the grant. “They are helping us cross that gap by putting these dollars and support behind the industry.”

Epic Games’ $100 million grant program will support projects that use its Unreal Engine with grants that range from $5,000 to $500,000.

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Talon, BeBop, Cyber Dream project

The Talon project will develop a virtual reality trainer that will also incorporate haptic feedback gloves to increase realism.

BeBop Sensors last year introduced haptics in virtual reality at the Consumer Electronics Show. The company’s gloves use no tethers, which allow users to move around freely.

“It’s a great investment on their part to build the sense of touch and interactivity to the Unreal Engine ecosystem.”

Bebop sensors

The company has also been working to fine-tune the gloves.

For instance, right now the gloves react differently if you’re clicking a switch than if you’re turning a dial.

“It’s very cool and strategic on [Epic Games’] part to get developers, innovators and creators using Unreal Engine to develop content, training and AI that drives the industry forward,” said Kevin Mikalsen, BeBop’s senior business development manager.

“It’s a great investment on their part to build the sense of touch and interactivity to the Unreal Engine ecosystem.”

The company has its own Central Florida ties, with one founder based here and the company in April joining Orlando-based National Center for Simulation.

Epic Games grants in Orlando

As of December, Epic Games had doled out $13 million in grants to projects across the country.

In May, University of Central Florida announced that a professor had landed a grant.

Simulation builder SimBlocks of Orlando also recently announced that it had received one.

The Talon project will integrate virtual reality headsets with motion simulators and haptic feedback gloves.

“This is completing the package for us, as far as making it feel like you’re in a fully virtual environment,” Naids said. “This is a young industry still figuring out where it fits.”


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