Virtual Reality is going to need 10 years to become a very mainstream big thing. But we’re committed to this, we have the resources to be able to invest and use these investments across the world to bring the research community into this, and I think this can make a big difference for giving everyone the power to share what they care about and helping everyone share in the opportunities of the internet.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook.
From training and product development to advertising and communications, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technologies reveal an opportunity for corporations to interact with stakeholders in a new dimension.
Big technology companies such as Google, Facebook and Alibaba have been taking positions within the Augmented and Virtual Reality investment ecosystem, as well as setting up their development teams for this next revolution.
Only during 2016, investment in both Augmented and Virtual Reality startups reached $1.800M , being Magic Leap largely responsible for the spike in the investment.
Backed by Alibaba and Google, Magic Leap raised a $542M funding round in 2014 and an additional $870M round in 2016, dominating the Augmented / Virtual Reality scene to the date.
Let’s take a look at the top funded Augmented / Virtual reality startups until December’16:
― 1. Magic Leap
Funding: Series C, $1.419M
Using Dynamic Digitized Lightfield Signal™, Magic Leap generates images indistinguishable from real objects promising to place them seamlessly into the real world. Being secretive with their technology there is no much more information about their wearable device.
― 2. Unity Technologies
Funding: Series C, $289M
Unity Technologies is not only a virtual reality platform, but its role in this market will be decisive for sure. Unity offers a platform for creating creative and engaging 2D, 3D, VR, and AR games and it is at the forefront of the growing VR market. An estimated 90% of Samsung Gear VR games and 53% of Oculus Rift (games at launch) were Made With Unity .
― 3. Lytro
Funding: Late Stages, $150M
Developers of a professional Light Field solution for cinematic VR. Their product, Lytro Immerge is built to blend live action and computer graphics (CG) capturing information about the light field emanating from a scene. Lytro is able to record the intensity of light in a scene as well as the direction of the light rays.
― 4. NextVR
Funding: Series B, $115M
NextVR delivers fully-immersive live VR sports and entertainment experiences. They already broadcast regular content for NBA, FOX Sports, HBO and Live Nation channels. Their focus: “How do we get 7 billion people closer to the events they love?”.
― 5. MindMaze
Funding: Early Stages, $108M
MindMaze combines immersive virtual reality, motion capture and neurophysiological recording technologies to build novel interfaces for neurorehabilitation, game training and 3D imaging in real time. Their product, MindMotionPro, is a hospital-based solution for early motor rehabilitation post-stroke.
― 6. JAUNT
Funding: Series C, $100M
A 360º video company providing an end-to-end solution for creating cinematic VR experiences focusing on immersive content. They have also developed their own 360º video camera, the Jaunt ONE.
― 7. Blippar
Funding: Series D, $99M
Blippar harnesses augmented reality, computer vision and artificial intelligence to connect both digital and physical world in order to empower the Internet “on” things technologies. Their original software allows overlaying digital content onto real-life products through image recognition.
― 8. Sphero
Funding: Late stages, $79M
Combining robotics, augmented reality and mobile technologies, Sphero develops a new generation of toys to create immersive entertainment experiences. With Lighting Lab they also reach the education community providing apps to learn programming with Sphero robots.
― 9. Meta
Funding: Series B, $73M
Meta offers a complete Augmented Reality experience focusing on both hardware and software. Meta 2 Development Kit offers one of the widest fields of view and direct hand interaction with holograms and digital contents.
― 10. CCP Games
Funding: Pre-seed, $66M
Founded in late 1997 as a video game studio, they have reinvented themselves as a promising VR game developer with the goal of becoming a massively multiplayer game company. EVE Online video game sets the company as one of the main leaders in the field. They are currently working on online massive multiplayer games for virtual reality such as EVE: Valkyrie.
Augmented and Virtual Reality will happen. It is an obvious new field of opportunities, especially if we take into account its combination with pre-existing technologies in the fields of media/entertainment and communications. But, in my honest opinion, it is something that needs to mature and we are only seeing the beginning of it. We have seen so much hype in the consumer market around these technologies but the truth is that enabling technologies aren’t ready yet (or overpriced). Augmented and virtual reality technologies are in a development stage, and, as with every disruptive technology, there is a time gap between its first developments and a real solid product or service for the general public.