Today in startup updates: Shopify, BuildDirect, BroadbandTV & Encircle

This week, several startups have made announcements regarding the launches of new divisions, apps, and platforms for their customers. Here’s the latest on their company updates.

Shopify introduces first virtual reality app

Shopify’s virtual reality team has announced the launch of its first VR app, Thread Studio.

Thread Studio gives users a new and interactive way of testing out t-shirt designs, by showing them a virtual photo studio where they can upload and test designs on mannequins wearing American Apparel shirts. Users can also test out designs on other merchandise such as hats, shoes, and water bottles. They can then make the mannequin try on the different merchandise and capture photos to help them understand what styles, colours, and designs work best. When users are satisfied with the way a design looks, they can save it on the Thread Studio app and send it to the print-on-demand provider, Printful.

“As far as we can tell, it’s one of the first VR applications where you have fine control over the pose of a character. Thread Studio is a prime example of how VR can be a tool to help merchants conceptualize and bring their products to life,” said Daniel Beauchamp, the head of virtual reality at Shopify.

Thread Studio is available for free on Steam.

BuildDirect launches clean energy division

Vancouver-based BuildDirect, an online marketplace for home improvement products, announced that it is launching a clean energy division within its marketplace to make it easier and more cost-effective for its consumers to bring sustainable energy into their homes.

In addition to providing consumers with efficient solar products, BuildDirect is hoping that the clean energy division will give suppliers of solar products the opportunity to access more consumers. Suppliers will have the option of shipping their products to warehouses or directly to consumers, and also be able to reach consumers in regions where strong solar solutions don’t have a strong presence yet.

“We are at a tipping point as residential solar energy goes mainstream, with California leading the way declaring that all new homes must be net zero by 2020,” said Rob Banks, the co-founder and executive officer of BuildDirect. “Millions of consumers want to move solar because it is an endlessly renewable resource that yields zero emissions and reduces power bills and BuildDirect has a unique opportunity to eliminate inefficiencies and confusion in this growing space by helping connect homeowners with suppliers.”

BroadbandTV launches VISO Catalyst for Chrome to offer optimization tools for content creators

Vancouver-based BroadbandTV, a media and technology company that represents YouTube talent through a global multi-platform network (MPN), has launched VISO Catalyst for Chrome, a platform that lets content creators optimize videos directly on YouTube by giving them access to content discovery, optimization, and analytics tools.

The tool’s features include keyword recommendations, title optimization, and a thumbnail editor that lets users add text, backgrounds, stickers, and filters to their videos. Currently, the tool is accessible to English, Portuguese, Spanish, Germany, and French-speaking creators, but BroadbandTV plans to add more languages in coming months.

“We continuously innovate and evolve our technology solutions to ensure that we provide our partners with the most advanced products to help them succeed,” said Mehrdad Fatourechi, the chief technology officer of BroadbandTV. “We want to further advance our industry from a technology standpoint and [this] announcement is yet another testament in achieving this. We have many exciting updates and unveils with our tech offerings in the coming months.”

VISO Catalyst for Chrome is currently available only for BroadbandTV’s creators and the company is planning to introduce new updates for its multiple platforms in coming months.

Encircle introduces new moisture tracking & measurement tool

Encircle, a mobile and cloud computing company that provides insurance carriers and restoration contractors with automation tools, has announced its latest product update: a moisture tracking and measurement tool.

The new tool will allow Encircle’s users to access a full suite of automation solutions to track different management processes such as pre-inspection and risk mitigation. The tool has been designed for use on mobile devices, so that customers can track various processes such as moisture levels of walls and floors or the effectiveness of dehumidifiers more efficiently. The tool’s key feature is that it allows users to share their data and trends in real time with other stakeholders.

“I recently had a demonstration of the new drying implementation from Encircle. This will save us time by eliminating the tedious pen and paper methods but also allow us to provide faster, more efficient, and more professional service to our insurers,” said Peter Overgaauw, the owner of Paul Davis Systems, a Canadian emergency restoration services company.

The new functionality is available immediately as part of the free trial in both Android and Apple App Stores.

In addition, Encircle has launched a new Learning & Support website for its customers. The self-serve support area allows users to quickly identify any trouble spots and access specific details, via videos, and quick start guides.

Amira Zubairi

Amira Zubairi

Amira Zubairi is a staff writer and content creator at BetaKit with a strong interest in Canadian startup, business, and legal tech news. In her free time, Amira indulges in baking desserts, working out, and watching legal shows.