Latest Disney Accelerator Backs AI, VR, Autonomous Vehicles

The Walt Disney Company has selected five companies to be in its annual Accelerator program, three of them AI startups, one in robotics and one developing VR. The program, now in its tenth year, identifies promising new tech companies to benefit from Disney funding and mentorship in exchange for an inside track on talent and acquisitions. The class of 2024 includes AudioShake, which leverages AI to aid in mixing and dubbing audio tracks for mixing or dubbing; ElevenLabs, which has a text-to-speech app for GenAI voicing; and Promethean AI, a digital archives search platform that informs prototype design.

The other two participants are Nuro, focused on customized driverless delivery vehicles, and immersive sports creator StatusPro, which uses virtual reality and augmented reality for a collection of training and gaming products.

“These companies are focused on exploring how emerging technologies can be used as tools to foster human creativity and imagination and help shape the future of media and technology,” Disney explains in an announcement harkening to the 100-year-old company’s history of innovation and technological exploration.

“The Disney Accelerator allows us to continue this legacy of innovation and the responsible use of technology in service of storytelling,” Disney Accelerator GM Bonnie Rosen said in the statement.

“Past participants include Epic Games, the ‘Fortnite’ video-game maker in which Disney agreed to invest $1.5 billion this year,” writes Bloomberg, explaining that “the companies work with Disney employees and sometimes come up with products the entertainment giant can use.” Examples include the class of 2014’s Sphero, which came up with the idea for the BB-8 Droid toy, released the following year.

Since the Disney Accelerator started in 2014 it has helped launch “over 60 global companies,” writes VentureBeat, listing Kahoot!, Illumix, and Inworld, among others.

“If there’s a poster child here, it’s Epic Games,” VentureBeat says, noting that “a couple of weeks ago, Disney announced it was making a $1.5 billion investment into Epic Games to help it build out a metaverse-like Disney immersive universe.”

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