RIoT earned a grant from US Ignite and Facebook to host an AR Developer Challenge to find and support AR solutions for accessibility and inclusion, economic impact, and workforce development in the Raleigh-Cary region. These are the top moments of their final pitch event held in late July 2021. 

#6 – The Warm Welcome 

Whether it was because the event took place IRL (in real life) after a long pandemic lockdown, or because of welcoming remarks from VIPs like Raleigh Mayor Mary Ann Baldwin and Town of Cary Councilwoman Lori Bush, the feeling in the air at the RIoT Final Pitch night was electric.

Event Crowd

#5 – Persevering Under Pressure

Speaking in front of an audience always takes courage, but the stakes were particularly high for one presenter with a history of traumatic brain injury and intermittent periods of voicelessness. Wake Tech Community College, Olivia Cleveland, used her own experience to pitch an AR application called OurTown: Raleigh, which is designed to allow users to unlock historical and personal anecdotes at points of interest downtown. Overwhelmed at being on stage, Olivia had to stop midway through her presentation. She returned a few moments later, however, to loud audience applause. 

OurTown: Raleigh could be gamified and monetized by allowing users to earn tokens and discounts to local stores as they unlock stories around town. Olivia envisions other cities and towns adopting this app, extending the platform’s ability to share local histories and stories from underrepresented populations.

#4 – Finding Inspiration to Build a Rain Garden 

Have you ever wondered where rainwater goes? NatureXR’s pitch showed the RIoT audience not only how excess storm water can be managed by a rain garden, but also how an AR tool can help people set one up at home. NatureXR’s app designs, measures, and plants create rain gardens in any space. Users can visualize where a rain garden would best fit in their environment, and also use visuals to help expedite municipal approval for a rain garden. Rain gardens can help cities filter polluted water, reduce storm water load, and beautify public spaces. Click play below to check out the demonstration.

#3 – Re-imagining Learning

Two pitches sparked the desire to be a student again. 

First, with the application Extra Credit, CyreneQ (who is an award winning AR Content Creator that works with brands such as Disney) hopes to build a dedicated social media platform that drives student engagement with educational content created by their own teachers. Once CyreneQ saw her X-Ray AR filter go viral, she realized AR could be leveraged to make learning fun and interactive. 

Any school could use Extra Credit to empower educators to leverage AR tools and  connect with students. Companies such as textbook publishers could be sought out as sponsors to fund the platform. 

Second, BlueRecruit, a startup company that works to improve the job search experience for skilled tradespeople, pitched an AR solar installation training course. When students put on the VR headset, they transport directly to a roof where an instructor teaches and demonstrates the steps to install solar panels. This eliminates the need to train on an actual roof and the possibility of accidents. Currently, a national certification for solar installation does not exist, but an AR course could be a good place to start. 

#2 – Giving Voice

The idea for LiRA came to Dr. Andrew Prince when he witnessed a patient turn red in the face shouting silent screams. Her lips worked just fine, but her voice did not. The LiRA app was created to help voiceless patients communicate in a more efficient way by leveraging AR. The app monitors facial and lip movements and translates them to voice (or text) in real time.   


Dr. Prince is focused on using LiRA for clinical use. A narrowed focus helps concentrate the vocabulary and data collection necessary and thereby expedites its rollout. Anyone can help LiRA train its lip-reading engine – and give voice back to the nearly 1M voiceless Americans –  by recording themselves reading a few sentences at

Click play below to learn more:

#1 – Applauding the Winners! 

There were multiple prizes on the line at the RIoT event, including $40,000 in seed funding, and placement into the RIoT Accelerator Program (RAP). 

slide with prize amount

The judges awarded a slot in RAP to Olivia Cleveland for her Our Town: Raleigh application, while the $40,000 prize was split in two, with $20,000 each going to NatureXR and LiRA. We can’t wait to see what these teams do next.


Interested in watching the whole event? Check it out at: 

Learn more about RIoT at


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