NYC Media Lab has funded 30+ emerging technology prototypes and startups so far in 2019

NYC Media Lab
9 min readApr 29, 2019

NYC Media Lab has had an action-packed spring of prototyping and entrepreneurship. Over the past several months, we’ve completed programs with Hearst, Viacom, Spectrum, A+E Networks, Havas, and the Associated Press. Our startup accelerator program, The Combine, also concluded with 8 new teams entering the City’s thriving technology ecosystem. And, our Verizon 5G EdTech Challenge is underway with The Verizon Foundation and Verizon 5G Labs.

We’re proud to share with you prototypes and startups that have emerged from NYC Media Lab in partnership with our member companies and university consortium. The projects listed below reflect months of iterative prototyping and advanced research in emerging tech areas like AI, machine learning, natural language processing, 5G, VR/AR, holography and more.

Contact us today to learn more about partnership opportunities with NYC Media Lab.

Experiments in data science, AI, and natural language processing with leading faculty researchers

Hearst: From Footage to Knowledge: News Story Understanding from Raw Video with AI, Columbia University Engineering and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute — The team developed an AI tool to process raw video footage of news stories. The resulting data / structured database contain comprehensive information around the story, including events, entities, and their relationships. Applications include video editing, search, summarization and more. Team Members: Shih-Fu Chang (faculty lead), Alireza Zareian, and Spencer Whitehead.

Viacom: Towards General Learned Representations of TV Shows, NYU Tandon School of Engineering — The team developed a pipeline for utilizing deep learning and state of the art transformer models. The tool uses unsupervised and labeled data to learn general representations of TV shows at the scene and episode level. The representations are useful for several downstream tasks including hierarchical multi-label classification and ranking, recommendation, retrieval, and visualization. Team Members: Yao Wang (faculty lead), Jack Langerman, and Zhipeng Fan.

Ongoing development of projects within a $1M nationwide challenge with The Verizon Foundation and Verizon 5G Labs

5G COVET (5G COSMOS Verizon Education Toolkit), New York University
in partnership with Columbia University 5G COVET
— A set of virtual educational labs, each forming a virtual room that students will visit — moving from room to room — similar to the popular “escape rooms” experience. Team Members: Panagiotis Skrimponis, Sheila Borges Rajguru, Gil Zussman, Emily Ford, Karen Cheng, Zoran Kostic, Jonathan Ostrometzky, Thanasis Korakis, and Kayla Quinnies.

5G K-12 Robotics Classroom, Tufts University — A set of Augmented Reality tools and curriculum for robotics in K-12 classroom that gives students a clear understanding of the complex workflows of a robot. Team Members: Jivko Sinapov, Jennifer Cross, Chris Rogers, Amel Hassan, Andre Cleaver, and Faizan Muhammad.

5G Enabled Collaborative Mixed Reality Classroom, New York University — Students work together in teams to construct and manipulate virtual models, form hypotheses, and test those hypotheses in real time. Team Members: Roger Kingsepp, Jan Plass, Ken Perlin, Chris Hovey, Alex Serralta, Zhenyi He, Connor DeFanti, and Alexander Gao.

Geolocation AR Monuments, Movers and Shakers NYC — An interactive and animated AR experience featuring a series of new urban monuments of women and people of color. The content brings stories to life, enabling students to learn history in an immersive way. Team Members: Idris Brewster, Glenn Cantave, and Micah Milner.

Lumovia, Georgia Institute of Technology and University of Pennsylvania — An interactive, mobile, augmented reality application that overlays difficult-to-grasp physics concepts directly onto students’ everyday classroom environments so they can bridge theory and reality. Team Members: Henry Deng, Ishaani, Lindsay Kelly, and Arpit Narechania.

Making Projects with Purpose in Immersive Media, The New School –University students collaborate to co-create with middle school students to learn about solutions for simulated environmental problems by harnessing the power of Verizon 5G to deliver a multi-player virtual reality distance-learning classroom. Team Members: Katherine Boehm, Julie Byers, Kristiana Marcon, Surabhi Naik, Anezka Sebek, Paolo Villanueva, and Tammy Walters.

Mapper’s Delight, Rap Research Lab — A multi-person mixed reality environment that allows students, through Hip Hop, to conduct sophisticated analyses using data science and visualization. Team Members: Tahir Hemphill, David Goldberg, Ivaylo Getov, and Nick Fox-Gieg.

Augmented Reality for Social Transition, Columbia University — A HoloLens game to help middle school students with special needs advance social interaction outside of the classroom in an augmented reality environment. Team Members: Xiaofan Zhang, Jullia Suhyoung Lim, Jaehyun Kim and Patrick Kwon.

Playgrounds Physics, New York Hall of Science — An app that makes physics fun and interactive, in the classroom and beyond. Students document their own bodies in motion, track the paths of their physical activities, and use onscreen data tools to analyze the variables of force, energy, and motion. Team Members: Dorothy Bennett, Cornelia Brunner, Harouna Ba, Stephanie Chambers, Trent Oliver, and Robert Moskal.

Visceral Science: Grasping the Universe through Virtual Reality, World Science Festival in partnership with Columbia University — An immersive VR experience exposing students to inaccessible realms such as atoms and particles, planets and stars, black holes and galaxies. Team Members: Brian Greene, Steve Feiner, Tracy Day, Saakshi Dulani, Mark German, and Mik Labanok.

A special project funded by the Journalism 360 Award, a $20,000 grant from the Knight Foundation, Google News Initiative and Online News Association

Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing, in partnership with the Associated Press: Galileo, School of Visual Arts, Interaction Design (IxD) — Working closely with journalists and digital media experts at AP, team Galileo designed a mobile AR experience that brings users the iconic scene of Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon, incorporating visual and audio archival elements. Team Members: Andrea Kang, Abhinav Sircar, Crystal Wang, and Jennifer Wei.

AR, immersive media, and emerging technology innovation through cross-university challenge programs and fellowships

Spectrum: AR for Customer Service Prototyping Challenge

Artzy, Cornell Tech, Connective Media — Artzy is a mobile app to help users visualize their wifi connectivity in AR. The product helps users understand how a router sends signals into space, which can support optimal connection. Team Members: Rainie Sun and Po Yen Tseng.

Holostarfish Demo, NYU Game Center — With playfulness and interactivity, a holographic digital creature with tactile controls works to augment the customer experience at Spectrum offline stores. Team Member: Maria Mishurenko

Zeyeon, NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program — Zeyeon uses AR to build an instructional game around the setup of Spectrum’s self-install kits. Users help an in-game character find their way home by accomplishing basic setup steps along the way. Team Members: Dylan Dawkins and Terrick Gutierrez.

AR@ITP, NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program — Using audiovisual content and live chat, this application assists Spectrum internet customers with the router installation process and troubleshooting. Team Member: Zahra Khosravi.

Havas: The Future of NYC Transportation Fellowship

Access to Places, NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program — Access to Places seeks to make subway stations accessible to people who are blind. By leveraging iOS’s native text-to-speech voiceover technology, the mobile application offers information like entry and exits, service changes and arrival times, complemented by beacon-triggered notifications to help travelers navigate complicated station layouts. Team members: Antonio Guimaraes; Emily Lin; Luming Hao; and Rashida Kamal.

Sub-Signals, The New School, Design & Technology — Sub-Signals reimagines the form and function of New York’s subway globes as visual navigational tools. The project embeds transit data into the urban environment to improve commuters’ wayfinding experience and reconsiders how cities might leverage existing public infrastructure for new use. Team Member: Jacqueline Wu.

MTA Flex, SVA, Interaction Design (IxD) — The proposal is an on-demand city bus service that connects disparate neighborhoods and businesses. We aim to provide commuters with the convenience of ride-share but the affordability of public transit using real-time data. Team Members: Jennifer Wei; Ke Hu; Margarita Yong; and Jason Branch.

Jaspers Transportation, Manhattan College — Using AI and image processing, the Jaspers prototype can stream passenger density in NYC subway cars through live data. Travelers can quickly find the least crowded subway car or use an alternative subway line with lower density. Team Members: Mohab El-Hakim; Ahmed Hussein; Matthew Volovski; Issa Dahdal; and Leanna Bonanno.

Modular Buses, Pratt Institute — This team’s autonomous modular bus system aims to reduce congestion while providing faster travel times. We believe that by implementing the appropriate technologies and practices, buses can become the preferred method of travel over Ubers and Subways. Team Members: Jie Qian; Hiroyuki Kondo; and Sam Shin.

A+E Networks: Multi-User AR & Geolocation Prototyping Challenge

ESC: Blue Book Project, The New School, Design & Technology — An AR escape room experience where 2–4 participants explore and interact with virtual objects to solve puzzles collaboratively. Team Members: Chao Hui Tu and Tuba Ozkan.

The Augmentables, NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program — AR Pickers is a cooperative multiplayer experience where users get to be Mike and Frank from the show American Pickers. Players must work together to explore a hidden basement filled with antiques to pick the most rare and precious items from the lot. Team Members: Mai Arakida Izsak; Xiao Ma; and Chian Huang.

Storage Wars AR, Fairleigh Dickinson University and NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program — In this game, users review items in virtual storage lockers and bid against other users. The goal is to find items of value, while avoiding obstacles. Team Members: Asha Veeraswamy and Peter Locharernkul.

Startup companies from the fourth annual Combine university accelerator cohort launch new ventures

Canairy, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; Carnegie Mellon University; Cornell University; New York University; and The New School — Canairy is a platform to monitor changes in respiratory health for patients with chronic respiratory diseases. Team Members: Rayees Rahman, Chi-Chi Bello, Emily Wang, Amy Lei, Flora Wu, Jennifer Hsieh, and Alexandra De Rosa.

DeepViz, NYU Tandon School of Engineering — DeepViz helps build explainable and interpretable machine learning products and services. Team Members: Parvez Kose and Alberto Chierici.

eWitness, CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice; and NYU Tandon School of Engineering — eWitness is a platform for journalists, investigators and activists to prove authenticity of digital photo/video evidence they capture using their smart phone cameras, so that their audience can be assured that “seeing is indeed believing”. Team Members: Shweta Jain, Nasir Memon, Priyanka Samanta, and Kumar Raman Senthil.

My Brain and Me, Columbia University Medical Center; and New York State Psychiatric Institute — My Brain and Me is a digital media platform that makes neuroscience and psychology personal and accessible. Its first tool allows users to manage and explore their brain scan data and contribute to mental health research. Team Members: Spiro Pantazatos, Mike Schmidt, and Katie Surrence.

Retina Technologies, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai — Retina Technologies seeks to both increase access to visual testing in medical resource-limited settings and improve patient experiences in urban ophthalmologist environments by leveraging the capabilities of virtual reality. Team Members: Aashay Patel, Andrew Warburton, Randal Serafini, and Aly Valliani.

Store Buddy, NYU Tandon School of Engineering — Store Buddy provides augmented reality-based indoor navigation and promotion solutions to enhance the customer experience in supermarkets. Team Members: Abhimanyu Dhawan, Kush Shah, Zafir Hasan, Norman Green, and Su-Ping Yu.

Swift, NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program — Swift is a web application that helps with meeting preparation and integrates into existing meeting scheduling workflows to create agenda-driven meetings. Team Members: Mengzhen Xiao and Lin Zhang.

Vett, The King’s College McCandlish Phillips Journalism Institute — Vett creates trust and verification tools that make citizens more savvy about news and news providers more transparent with the public. Team Members: Paul Glader, Peter Freeby, Brian Ourien, and Princess Jones.

Contact Alexis Avedisian ( for additional details.



NYC Media Lab

NYC Media Lab connects university researchers and NYC’s media tech companies to create a new community of digital media & tech innovators in New York City.