Like many fans of virtual reality, Lee Segal’s interest in the possibility of immersive technology was ignited in the 1990s when he watched movies like The Lawnmower Man and Brainstorm. Many years later, Segal had the opportunity to try the Samsung Gear VR and he was “immediately intrigued with the experience and its transformative potential.”
Even though he loved the immersive experience of the Gear VR, Segal noticed a flaw in the hardware. Unfortunately after using games or apps for only about 15 minutes, the phone would overheat and shut down. The natural-born entrepreneur saw this as an opportunity to solve a problem so he approached some tech savvy friends and discussed possible solutions.
“Two days and several meetings later,” says Segal, thinking back to 2016, “Asterion was born!”
The group behind Asterion, with Segal serving as owner/founder, soon came up with their first innovation – the “Satori” VR fan. Satori means “sudden enlightenment” and was chosen as the name due to the jaw-dropping reaction most people have when first experiencing virtual reality. The fan extended the VR experience for as long as the phone’s battery had charge and was received with overwhelming positive response.
Following up on the success of the Satori fan, Segal and the Asterion team expanded their focus and tested all the most popular VR devices available at the time, including the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and the Playstation VR.
“We realized we could improve various aspects of the user experience and began to develop accessories for each of these devices,” he states. “For the Vive, Rift, and Gear VR, we developed silicone controller grips improving on the ergonomics and comfort. Then for the PSVR we spent almost a year designing and prototyping the ‘ARC/VR illuminated charging and storage stand,’ which allows the user to display their PSVR headset, reduce clutter and charge all their controllers.”
Asterion pays attention to customer input and with each new product they’ve launched, Segal says they’ve gained a deeper insight into everyday VR user needs. They also collaborate with VR community groups, which increases awareness of their products while encouraging growth of the industry overall.
“I can’t stress enough how the VR community has helped shape our path,” states Segal, “The community’s continued support and product feedback helps us improve each product iteration and conceive of new innovations.”
Recently Asterion teamed up with YUR and VR Fitness Insider for the 90-Day VR Fitness Challenge, an event that encouraged participants to focus on healthy lifestyles and regular exercise in immersive environments.
Asterion also sponsors VR Community Builders, an organization specifically designed to encourage growth of VR communities, and the Collegiate VR Esports League (CVRE), a group that provides a fun, competitive environment for student VR and esports enthusiasts.
“We believe the future of VR will be heavily influenced by the success and public exposure of pro VR esports,” states Segal.
Although the pandemic has created challenges for the collegiate league, they’ve adapted quickly and even though they can’t get together on college campuses for regular meetings, they can still meet in virtual reality. CVRE continues to grow and find new ways to engage current college students as well as high school students who are also looking for opportunities to meet others around the same age with an interest in VR esports.
Sponsors like Asterion encourage continued growth of the league and alongside Esports Custom Wear, they’re providing custom jerseys for league players. In a time when college students can’t get together in physical reality for sporting events, they can still visit in virtual environments, participate in the league, and support their favorite collegiate team by wearing team jerseys.
For Segal, he still recalls how the movies he watched in the 90s shaped his expectations of future tech and foreshadowed exciting possibilities on the horizon. These days his contributions to the industry improve user experience, which ultimately helps improve retention. It’s a positive cycle that benefits all involved.