Mixed Reality Frontiers: On Shooting 100,000 Baskets and Crying With Joy

In 2020, 13 startups enrolled on our Mixed Reality Program with Nreal. The aim? To co-create the next big thing in digital interaction, entertainment and content, and bring mixed reality to the mass market. But who are the startups enrolled on the programme?

We chatted to Paul Anton, the co-founder of realshot about how his university experience gave him an incredible business idea; working with his brother and shooting 100,000 hoops for the sake of his startup.

realshot founders Paul and Frankie Anton when they were kids

1. How did you get the idea for realshot?

My brother and I came up with the idea for realshot during my first week at university. My little brother Frankie and I grew up playing basketball together. We’d play every single day. And when I left for university, I had to move 1000 miles away from home – so at first, it seemed like that was the end of us playing together. Well, we didn’t want to give up that easily. So we came up with the idea of playing HORSE against each other on Snapchat. I’d record a shot and snapchat him and he’d record a shot and snapchat me back. Well, this proved that we could play basketball against each other remotely using modern technology. realshot is just an extension of that idea. 

2. What problem is realshot trying to solve?

realshot started by solving a personal problem for my brother and me and it evolved into solving that same problem for basketball junkies just like us. However, right around the time I was leaving university, stories in the news started popping up about kids getting addicted to video games, becoming depressed, video games leading to violence, obesity, stagnant lifestyles and we thought, “hey, we could solve that problem with a real-life sports video game! Let’s get people up and off the couch and back outside playing video games in real life.” And that’s really what realshot is all about.  

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3. What’s the biggest challenge your team faced?

First, Frankie and I had to spend the first 90 days shooting 100,000 shots using the Nreal Glasses for our machine learning algorithm to have enough data to recognize makes and misses. We shot 1,111 shots a day. After the first 2 weeks, our backs and shoulders were killing us. That’s A LOT of shooting. 

But after our bodies got used to the intensity, we then had to sit at our computers for 12 hours a day and label all those shots for machine learning. Well, we couldn’t do all the labeling ourselves, so our whole team chipped in, our family chipped in, and then we had to outsource a lot of it, which completely wiped out our bank accounts. We just had to do the rest ourselves – all while our engineers were writing code and creating the actual game. 

It was brutal. And we’re still not fully out of that hole yet. The work has been tough. I mean, building the world’s first real-life video game is not easy. We knew that going in. But the amount of work that goes into machine learning is very intense. 

4. What was the moment you realized your product would be a success?

The moment we knew our product would be a success was when we first tested it out in different cities. My little brother was in Milwaukee and I went to Chicago for the weekend. 7am on Saturday morning we went to test out our game to see if we could play against each other using the Nreal glasses. It worked! We couldn’t believe it. We played 3-point contests and free throw contests and then we cried. Because we were so overjoyed that it worked. 

5. How has the hubraum program helped you develop your product?

hubraum has been amazing. They’ve gone above and beyond to help us achieve our goal. And even they didn’t realize how much work they would have to do when they accepted us into the program – but they helped us every step of the way with mentors, coaches, software resources and just full support. They sent us two pairs of Nreal glasses by the way too! So thank you hubraum and thank you Nreal! And thank you to Unity, Qualcomm and MobileEdgeX as well and the entire Deutsche Telekom organization. Everyone was first class through and through. And the Unity team was genius. Seriously. None of this would be possible without each of you! 

Joe from realshot’s new video shooting hoops

6. How have you found designing a product specifically for the Nreal glasses?

It’s been great. We’ve tried on every single pair of AR glasses that exist in the world today and Nreal has the best product by far. So working with the best product is always great. 

7. Make up and answer your own question!

Question: Where do you see the AR industry in 10 years?

Answer: This is important and it must be said. I think if people start to realize this, then it will help the industry as a whole.

AR glasses are not a phone on your face. They are never going to replace the phone. If someone came up to me with a pair of glasses with a camera on them and started recording me, I wouldn’t be too happy. Would you?

Instead, AR glasses are most useful for specific use cases. AR glasses helping out construction workers, doctors, shipping facility workers are already starting to show immense benefit. And in the end, the most popular specific use case for AR glasses will be gaming.   AR glasses are the next evolution of Nintendo Wii, Xbox Kinnect, and Playstation Move and even VR. 

AR lets you supplement graphics to the real world. That’s an insanely great tool for gaming. Nintendo Wii blew up because it got people off the couch and playing video games with your actual body movements, but being good at Nintendo Wii’s Mario Tennis didn’t translate to being good at tennis in real life. Well, with AR glasses and with realshot, you’ll be able to game, climb the leaderboard, play with friends, AND get better at the actual sport you’re playing. That value is very powerful. And that’s where AR will be in 10 years. The next big gaming company will be an AR company. 

realshot’s new UI

8. What skill of yours has been most important for your career?

Being able to play basketball and shoot thousands of shots!

9. How do you fuel innovation in your company?

Good ideas win. We use our team members’ music and art in the realshot game. Kaushik makes sick beats and a lot of the songs you hear when you first load up the game are his. 

10. What book/album/film has inspired you creatively recently?

Future got me through those 100,000 shots. 

11. Which other entrepreneur/startup are you most inspired by?

George Bousis – raise.com 

George is a Greek kid from Chicago who built a Unicorn. All the Greeks where I’m from look up to George. 

12. What’s the one tip you would give young entrepreneurs?

I don’t know if I’m the right person to give advice, since I still haven’t made it yet, but I’d say do something you love that’s fun. 

The thing about realshot is, I get to play basketball every day for my job! That’s my dream come true. So, young entrepreneurs: do something you love. 

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