Verizon Connected Futures III


The Verizon Connected Futures Prototyping and Talent Development program, in partnership with NYC Media Lab, supports development of new media and technology projects from universities across New York City, linking students and faculty with industry experts.

NEW YORK, New York—January 24th, 2018—In partnership with NYC Media Lab, Verizon has awarded 12 New York City university teams for the creation of new prototypes, with a specific investment in virtual and augmented reality (AR/VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. 11 projects by students from Columbia University, New York University, Pratt Institute, The School of Visual Arts, and The New School will participate in the program. Teams will work specifically with leadership within Verizon Envrmnt, which builds immersive experiences for leading companies in advertising, digital media, professional sports and retail.

Verizon launched the Connected Futures Prototyping and Talent Development program, now in its third year, to invest in cutting-edge prototyping. It is structured to form a pipeline between NYC universities and Verizon as the company seeks out the next generation of talent. NYC Media Lab, a public-private consortium of NYC-universities and civic partners, is key to forging these relationships. The program and its call for applications was announced in September 2017 at NYC Media Lab’s annual Summit, which hosted stakeholders from across the Lab’s consortium.

Special Video: Verizon Connected Futures alumni share their experiences. 

The program also works to drive interest towards the Verizon Open Innovation Concept Studio, a 6-month program that engages creative technologists to tackle business challenges impacting the media and technology industry. To date, 16 talented engineers and designers have been hired by Verizon through its partnership with NYC Media Lab.

Representatives from Verizon and NYC Media Lab visited campuses across the City in an 8-week recruitment process that culminated in a competitive applicant pool. Teams were chosen based on their vision for prototyping within one of Verizon’s chosen areas of inquiry: AR design and marked tracking; social VR/AR; and the intersection of AR and AI. What design concepts can be used to help AR reach broad penetration and user adoption? How can we empower multi-person communication in VR/AR experiences? And how can we imagine use cases of voice assistants or chatbots in VR/AR environments? These questions will inform the prototyping process, to proceed through March 2018.

“One main goal is to build strong bridges between external innovation and Verizon,” said Christian Guirnalda, Director of Verizon Open Innovation. “The Connected Futures program has proven to be a fantastic way to collaborate with students who may likely be the next entrepreneurs within the company. For us, AR is an important topic as new use cases will be further unlocked as we deploy 5G and the Intelligent Edge Network. We’re looking forward to building great experiences with these teams at our 5G Incubator and Lab this spring!”
"We make magic when we pair leading students with outstanding mentors in the Envrmnt team at our AR/VR lab," said Christian Egeler, Director of XR Product Development for Envrmnt, Verizon's platform for Extended Reality solutions. "We discover the next generation of talent when we engage them in leading edge projects in real time, building the technologies of tomorrow."
“NYC Media Lab is grateful for the opportunity to connect Verizon with technically and creatively talented faculty and students across NYC’s universities” said Justin Hendrix, Executive Director of NYC Media Lab. “We are thrilled to continue to advance prototyping in virtual and augmented reality and artificial intelligence. These themes continue to be key areas of focus for NYC Media Lab, especially with the development of the first publicly funded VR/AR Center, in which the Lab is developing in conjunction with NYU Tandon School of Engineering.”

Additional support for this challenge includes matching funds from The New York State Center for Advanced Technology in Telecommunications and Distributed Information Systems (CATT) at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering.

Teams will present their prototypes in a final Demo Day on March 23rd, 2018. To RSVP to the Demo Day, contact Alexis Avedisian, NYC Media Lab Communications Manager ( Learn about the projects below.

Participating Teams:


Nelson Lin, Monica Chan
University Affiliation: Columbia University
University Programs: Mechanical Engineering; Instructional Technology & Media
FixAR is an AR instructional tool that guides the user in troubleshooting hardware issues, improving customer service and consumer confidence.

Vhalerie Lee, Subigya Basnet, Baris Siniksaran
University Affiliation: NYU Tandon School of Engineering
University Program: Integrated Digital Media (IDM) Citytravelar is an AR app that augments existing subway signs to provide information to MTA commuters such as delays, routes and nearby landmarks.

Runway in Store
Luqian Chen, Jingfei Lin
University Affiliation: NYU Tisch School of the Arts
University Program: Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP)
Runway in Store is a projection-based AR photo booth that enhances customer experience in fashion stores and improves brand awareness via social media.


Heng Li, Jacky Chen, Mingfei Huang
University Affiliation: NYU Tandon School of Engineering
University Program: Computer Science
ARSL is an instant sign language interpretation mobile app that uses computer vision, cloud computing and AR to empower both the sign language users and hearing users for more collaborations.

Fanyun Peng, Shuang Cao, Ying Xiao
University Affiliation: The New School, Parsons School of Design
University Program: Design & Technology
Dreamine is an AR clay set for children which can bring models created by users to an AR game.

Amy Ashida, Amsha Kalra, Christine Lawton
University Affiliation: School of Visual Arts
University Program: Interaction Design (IxD)
Hubble is a mixed reality tool for elementary classrooms that makes abstract concepts, like space, 3D and interactive.

Corey Bertelsen, Maria Mishurenko
University Affiliation: NYU Tisch School of the Arts
University Program: Game Design
Impromptu is a multi-user AR experience that empowers non-musicians to participate in an audio visual jam session.

LaTricia Watford, Aaron Lee, Aimee Abalos, Karla Polo Garcia, Sydney Adams
University Affiliation: The New School, Parsons School of Design
University Program: Design & Technology
LiftAR is an AR experience for parents and students to engage together on educational milestones from the common core system.


Fish Eyes
Vivian Lee, Hannah Ekman, Tong Zhang, Aim Duangratana
University Affiliation: The New School, Parsons School of Design
University Program: Design & Technology
Fish Eyes is an AI software that analyzes video footage to improve future spatial planning.

VR Search
Jaehyun Kim, Phillip McFarlane, Ruyun Xiao, Ilya Yavnoshan
University Affiliations: Pratt Institute and Columbia University
University Programs: Communications Design (Pratt Institute); Design and Development of Digital Games (Columbia University)
VR Search uses virtual reality to explore web search within a 3D environment for a more natural and intuitive experience.

Olivia Cabello, Yuka Fukuoka, Ray Luo, Chanel Luu Hai, Jullia Suhyoung Lim
University Affiliations: NYU Tandon School of Engineering; Parsons School of
Design; Columbia University; School of Visual Arts
University Programs: Integrated Digital Media (NYU); Design & Technology
(Parsons); Design for Social Innovation (SVA); Instruction Technology and
Media (Columbia University)
Vrbal is a smart and adaptable VR training experience that serves as a space
for people with social anxiety disorders to practice for real-life situations.

GLIMPSE: Inventing America
Roi Lev, Anastasis Germanidis
University Affiliation: NYU Tisch School of the Arts
University Program: Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP)
GLIMPSE: Inventing America is an AR journey taking us back to the 1620s when the first immigrants arrived in what is now New York City.




About NYC Media Lab
NYC Media Lab connects digital media and technology companies with New York City's universities to drive innovation, entrepreneurship and talent development. A public-private partnership launched by the New York City Economic Development Corporation, NYC Media Lab funds seed projects that foster collaboration across a range of disciplines and runs The Combine, an early stage accelerator for emerging media and technology startups.
About Verizon
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ), headquartered in New York City, generated $126 billion in 2017 revenues. The company operates America’s most reliable wireless network and the nation’s premier all-fiber network, and delivers integrated solutions to businesses worldwide. Its Oath subsidiary reaches about one billion people around the world with a dynamic house of media and technology brands.

About Envrmnt by Verizon
Envrmnt is a comprehensive provider of enterprise-class, business-to-business (B2B) and B2B-to-consumer (B2B2C) extended reality (XR) solutions (AR, VR, and 360 video). They offer self-service tools which allow customers to easily configure and deploy their own immersive content, as well as professional services for the creation of custom experiences, all via their streaming platform.