Check out these 3 AR/VR companies getting investors’ attention

Asian woman using a new virtual reality headset

With the AR/VR sector attracting a significant amount of capital recently, the space has only begun to grow. Here’s a look at the 3 American AR/VR companies that received investment in August:

Immersv

Venturebeat reported that Immersv raised $ 10.5m USD in a Series A for mobile advertising utilizing virtual reality as well as 360-degree mobile video. Immersv describes itself on its website as “…a virtual reality discovery and advertising platform, founded by the team that created the largest app distribution platform on Facebook and then again on iOS and Android.”  This is the first public round of funding for the Los Angeles based company which a roster that isn’t kidding about its team’s experience.

See also: What Facebook’s F8 AR/VR announcements mean for marketers

Many of the team members at Immersv, including its co-founder and CEO Mihir Shah, are ex-employees of Tapjoy. Tapjoy is another U.S.-based company that provides monetization services for the largest advertisers and mobile app developers. Its services currently reach over 500 million users, so this team knows how to create something viral. The advertising space needs to constantly be changing their business models as the way people consume content is never stale. For the next way of VR content, look to Immersv for monetization.

Sliver.tv

Techcrunch reported that Sliver.tv raised $ 9.8m USD in Series A led by Danhua Capital to continue developing virtual reality viewing experiences for e-sports fans. According to Sliver.tv’s own website its primary product “is a platform to record, view, and stream top eSports games in fully immersive, 360° cinematic VR video”. Coincidentally, the Head of Product for Sliver.tv, Ryan Nichols, is actually the co-founder of Tapjoy, so he must be quite familiar with the folks over at Immersv.

The platform allows viewers to be placed in the center of the action side-by-side with their favorite e-sports athletes, an experience that can’t be replicated nearly as simply with standard offline sports. Sliver.tv has been having a very successful year starting off with signing deals with ESL & Dreamhack, large organizers of e-sports tournaments in America and Europe, to be partnered for 14 full-scale events. Given that the two co-founders are Chinese along with Danhua Capital being a Chinese/American VC fund, it is possible that this newly raised money could be invested into a Chinese market expansion given it’s the largest one in the world for e-sports.

Matterport

PR Newswire reported that Matterport raised $ 5m USD in a strategic investment from Ericsson Ventures. This was by no means a growth round for Matterport as it has already raised over $ 60m USD in last four years after going through Y Combinator in Fall 2012. Matterport has created a platform that is designed to quickly understand 3D spaces and render a digital model that is viewable in 2D, 3D, mobile and VR.

See also: Eye tracking in AR/VR — the promise and the perils

According to the PR Newswire report, over 550,000 spaces have been made into digital models accumulating a total of more than 220 million views from all around the world. Ericsson Ventures made the investment to work with Matterport in developing its next generation of products.  These products would use its existing library of data and machine learning to create artificial intelligence that could potentially automatically design, correct, or create 3D models on its own according to Matterport CEO, Bill Brown. Unfortunately it is unknown whether any ex-Tapjoy employees work at Matterport or not.

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Ultrahaptics finds deep pockets for their groundbreaking AR/VR tech

Business people using virtual reality goggles in meeting in office. Team of developers testing virtual reality headset.

With the rapid development of VR and AR technologies, we have experienced fascinating virtual environments, but in terms of haptic feedbacks and vivid feelings, the market still lacks practical and mature solutions.

Ultrahaptics, which was founded in 2013 based on technology originally developed at the University of Bristol, has developed technology that uses ultrasound to virtually create 3D objects and real-life sensations so that users can get feedback from touchless buttons by seemingly gesturing in midair. Its technology will enhance user experience so that VR and AR-related products look just like what we have seen in sci-fi movies for years.

Truly unique technology

Ultrahaptics launched a development kit called UHDK5 TOUCH last year, which included a complete hardware and software package that can be used in product designs and test results. According to TechCrunch writer Lucas Matney, who tried the kit a couple months ago, despite Ultrahaptics still being “in the early stages of finding use cases for its tech,” the technology it’s offering is “definitely an interesting solution to some tired problems.”

With such unique and sci-fi-like technology, Ultrahaptics draws attention from many investors in related fields, and on May 4, Ultrahaptics announced on its official blog that it had raised $ 23 million in just its B round of funding. Dolby Family Ventures and Cornes both participated in this round, along with Woodford Investment Management and IP Group, who already invested in Ultrahaptics in its $ 15.6 million A round of funding.

This recent funding marks not only a large milestone for the firm, but also for the landscape of user input relating to haptics. According to the data provided by VB Profiles in their “User Input – Haptics” market, Ultrahaptics’ B round makes up almost a fourth of all investments — $ 101 million — in this market. In fact, the money raised by Ultrahaptics in all its funding rounds makes up 41% of all funding in User Input – Haptics with the heavy majority of the remaining funding being raised by Immersion.

Immersion, a publicly traded company, is one of Ultrahaptics’ strongest competitors in the User Input – Haptics market; it has raised the most money in the market thus far — over $ 50 million. However, Immersion has had nearly no headcount growth in the last two years, while Ultrahaptics has experienced nearly 300% growth according to LinkedIn data.

Shifting to smart vehicles

Because of its gains in virtual technology, funding from investors and rapid extension, Ultrahaptics is now shifting its focus more to smart vehicles, hoping it can implement its ultrawave technology and midair gesture feedback system in drivers’ dashboards. With this technology, drivers can release their hands from controlling infotainment and audio systems, all while paying more attention to the road.

During the CES in Las Vegas early this year, it was revealed that the firm’s solution was used in BMW’s new virtual touchscreen system, HoloActive Touch. In February, Harman, which was acquired last year by the Samsung Group, partnered with Ultrahaptics to develop a better midair haptic feedback system and to enhance the driving experience with smart cars.

The positive effects from Ultrahaptics’ new funding will drive its developing process more smoothly, and as a result, we should expect more practical and useful solutions for VR and AR related fields in the near future.

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What Facebook F8’s AR/VR announcements mean for marketers

Use AR for real-world enhancement.

Last week, Facebook once again created buzz in the AR/VR industry with a series of announcements at the F8 Developer Conference. With 2 billion active users on Facebook and a mission to be the leader of next wave technologies, there is no doubt that the industry is watching Facebook’s movements in this space closely.

See also: Adobe sees VR as the next great travel disruptor

You may have heard about the broad range of AR/VR discussions this past week, from the first AR camera platform to the first Facebook social VR app. However, with marketers looking to take advantage of these new interactive mediums it is becoming increasingly difficult to understand when and how to employ these new technologies.

Is AR better for marketing than VR? Or is it the other way around? When should I use AR? When should I use VR? What do these executions look like? These are just some of the questions we receive from our customers on a weekly basis. As someone very passionate about this space, I would love to share some of my thoughts and insights below:

Use VR for immersive storytelling

Use VR for immersive storytelling

When to use AR and when to use VR?

The simple answer is AR allows you to enhance the world around you while VR immerses you in a world that has been fully created for you. From a marketers perspective, both mediums have their distinct advantages, but which to use relies on what your creative objective is. How important is your audience’s real-world surrounding to the story-arc you are looking to deliver? Or is your objective to immerse this viewer in a narrative that you have created for them?

As mentioned, AR can enhance the world around the viewer, but in doing so it often sacrifices story and narrative to create space for the real world context. In contrast, VR brings its audience into a fully immersive experience where the marketer and storyteller can take that viewer through its narrative arc.

Let’s take a look at a hypothetical example: Imagine you are releasing the new Iron Man film. What would an AR experience look like and what would a VR experience look like?

For AR, you could invite your audience to take selfies of themselves dressed as the Iron Man character or you could all of a sudden have Tony Stark standing in your room. With VR, you can bring your audience into the film and have them actively participate as a character, maybe flying next to Iron Man as he returns to his beautiful mansion property. As you can see, the same movie can employ both technologies to market the film as each technology has a different focus.

But as a marketer it is important to understand after investing in this new form of creative, how will you get people to see it?

Where are the eyeballs for AR and VR today?

For marketers, getting eyeballs and engagement on your creative is of paramount importance. The reality for AR is that the majority of digital information we consume today doesn’t require your real-world surroundings. We mostly consume information through displays, not lenses. As a result, distribution for AR is still quite limited. Summary table below:

ar3

As you can see above, while both mediums are still emerging, AR is still in its early days. In contrast, VR has witnessed the emergence of a standard format in the 360° VR Video that has given marketers the ability to deliver these content experiences to the eyeballs they need.

What do we see in the future of AR and VR?

There is no doubt that both AR and VR will be great computing platforms, but what remains to be seen is how marketers can fully take advantage of these technologies. From my perspective, VR appears to be following a trend familiar to the world of media. Just as newspapers transitioned to the more visual medium of television, it feels only natural that the next consumption platform would be even more interactive and engaging, hence VR.

In parallel, AR appears to be following a trend we have seen around querying information. Just as we are seeing an evolution from text search to voice search. AR can open up a new way to get enhanced information through a smartphone lens.

As an advertising platform who is directly involved with marketers and publishers, we are very excited for the future to come.

OmniVirt is 360 Video and Virtual Reality advertising platform founded by former Google and YouTube employees. The company has received funding from top venture capitalists including Andreessen Horowitz, Greycroft, BDMI, Horizon Media, First Round Capital and many others. OmniVirt’s technology distributes 360° VR across top publisher websites like The New York Times, AOL, Time Inc, Gannet, Wall Street Journal, Vice Media and more. These experiences are customizable and interactive, with detailed performance reporting showcasing where audiences are engaging in the immersive experience. The company has powered multiple high-profile campaigns for clients like Toyota, Infiniti, Samsung, Chevron, Universal Pictures and Johnnie Walker.

VR Landscape
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