The purpose of Client Tell is to spotlight the incredible work of our clients, and to help businesses learn from and connect with each other. We sat down with entrepreneur Derek Ham, the Founder and innovator behind Logic Grip, to learn how this Raleigh startup is revolutionizing the world of virtual reality technology.

Derek Ham has always been intrigued by immersive environments and how they fit into the world of user experience and design. After earning his PhD in Design Computation from M.I.T. and teaching briefly at Harvard and the Rhode Island School of Design, he made his way to the Research Triangle, taking a position as Assistant Professor at North Carolina State’s College of Design. He recalled:

“My background is in architecture, but I’ve been working in virtual reality (VR) since 2013, right around the time it surged in popularity. Before that time, only a few labs around the world were experimenting with it, and then people started viewing it as a viable commercial product.”

Recreating the Past, Revolutionizing the Future

When Oculus, now owned by Facebook, released its Oculus Rift technology for immersive experiences, it really got Derek thinking about the possibilities of VR in the consumer market. In 2017, he began the task of creating a VR experience that would place a person right into the struggle of the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Worker’s Strike during the Civil Rights Movement. I Am A Man VR Experience was released in 2018 (the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination), allowing users to get a first-hand glimpse into a pivotal moment of American history. In addition to securing funding from Oculus, Derek’s work earned him numerous film festival awards.

“As a minority business owner in the tech space, this project allowed me to reflect on the past, and to see a larger context of the work that has been done, and still remains to be done for this land of the free, home of the brave,” Derek reflected.

Turning Virtual Inspiration into Reality

The project also inspired Derek’s design students to think through the process of using VR in museums and other public spaces. The school now has a lab dedicated to developing hardware for VR devices.

The school also approached Derek with the idea of launching a university-sponsored startup developing immersive technology for storytelling, and the concept of Logic Grip was born. The company launched in 2018, with a goal of bringing value to VR gaming experiences through low cost, dynamic consumer products and devices. Derek explained:

“As a faculty member, contributing intellectual property to the university is part of my job. I run my concepts and products by the school’s tech and new ventures office, and they decide if it’s something we should pursue and bring to market. With their support, I can take the idea and run with it.”

Logic Grip is now developing its patented flagship product, Axe One, a peripheral device that works in tandem with the controller in VR gaming. “It allows you to grab objects and hold them in axis, giving you the sensation that you are holding them with your own two hands,” Derek said.”

Logic Grip virtual reality (VR) technology

The Secrets to Startup Success

When asked about his creative process, Derek replied, “I try to constantly keep my pulse on things. I travel to the West Coast as much as I can, and I’m constantly asking myself if what I’m working on is in line with my mission. Even if it means ditching a product or altering a strategy, I’m willing to do it if it achieves my core goal.”

When it came time to make Logic Grip a reality, Derek turned to the team at Fourscore Business Law, because it was at the top of NC State’s list of preferred legal partners. “I had an initial meeting with the attorneys at Fourscore Business Law, and I immediately saw the value of their business and licensing experience,” he explained. “I knew the expertise of the Fourscore team would be fundamental in negotiating my startup’s unique relationship with the university.”

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