• Digi-Capital: AR/VR Investment Stabilized In Q4 2018
    Digi-Capital: AR/VR Investment Stabilized In Q4 2018

    Digi-Capital tracked startups raising over $6 billion across AR/VR/computer vision in 2018, driven by large, late-stage deals in China. A decline in deal volumes (number of deals) during the first three quarters of the year stabilized in Q4, while deal value (dollars invested) returned to a two-year average after large spikes from a few mega-deals (again in China). The next six months will determine whether or not this return to stability is a long-term trend.

    Above: AR/VR Investment Volume (Number of Deals by Stage)

    There has been a gradual decline in overall AR/VR deal volumes in the last two years, with the most recent high well over 100 deals in Q4 2017. The stages which have seen the most variance are pre-seed and seed deals. Q4 2018 saw an uptick to approach 80 deals, although again pre-seed was somewhat limited. While accelerator deals (particularly HTC Vive X cohorts) skew deal volume data, even without them the overall stabilization in the fourth quarter holds true (although to a lesser extent). As expected, there are always far fewer later stage series B through series F deals. We will come back to these when we look at deal value.

    The largest number of AR/VR deals by category in 2018 were in core tech, games, photo/video, solution/services, enterprise and smartglasses. However, there was a broad range of deals across 21 other AR/VR categories last year. Again, the next six months will determine which categories VC and corporate investors focus their attention on going forward. However, the general market narrative last year guided investors towards the crossover between computer vision and AR. There were also some VR investments (such as Varjo raising $31 million and Pico Interactive $24.7 million), despite media coverage to the contrary.

    Above: AR/VR Investment Value (Dollars by Stage)

    AR/VR deal value (dollars invested) has been lumpy over the last two years, with a few, massive later-stage series B through series F deals dominating VC and corporate investment into AR/VR startups (particularly in the record quarters of Q4 2017, Q2 2018 and Q3 2018 – some of which were over $2 billion total per quarter and all of which are outliers). This is not unusual, as later stage deals are typically much larger.

    The scale of deals in the Chinese market has been particularly impressive over the last 12 months. There were individual series C deals over $600 million and one series D in the $1 billion range. Although over $1.1 billion was invested globally across all stages in Q4 2018, the bulk of that was again in later stage series C+ deals. Removing those outliers to focus on accelerator through series B, the market stabilized somewhat to over $300 million invested.

    Above: AR/VR Investment Value (Dollars by Category in 2018)

    By far the largest investment category by value (dollars invested) was core tech, particularly Chinese companies crossing over between computer vision and AR (so not AR pureplays). Even removing these crossover investments from the numbers, there was still significant investment with Chinese companies in AR advertising,

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  • The VR Job Hub: Sandbox VR, Survios, The VOID This weeks theme is all about location-based entertainment.
  • Fans Get A VR Tour Of LA Stadium Ahead Of Super Bowl LIII

    Fans get a closer look at the future home of the Los Angeles Rams. This Sunday the Los Angeles Rams take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Next year however, construction will begin on LA Stadium, a state-of-the-art venue located in Inglewood that will serve as the

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  • Groundhog Day Is Actually Getting A Sequel… In VR
    Groundhog Day Is Actually Getting A Sequel… In VR

    Well, there’s a headline I never thought I’d write. A Groundhog Day sequel is in the works… for VR.

    Yes, really.

    Tequila Works, the studio behind 2017’s excellent The Invisible Hours, today announced Groundhog Day: Like Father Like Son. It’s a full VR game headed to Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PSVR later this year. In it, you play as Phil Connors Jr., the son of Bill Murray’s character in the 1993 movie. In the film, the original Connors is forced to relive the same day over and over again until he basically learns to be a good person. It’s set on February 2nd, hence today’s announcement.

    The first trailer for the game is above. It looks like Connors Jr. is going to find himself in the exact same situation as his Dad. That hopefully means plenty of deadpan humor. The game’s even set in the same town of Punxsutawney. As part of the marketing, there’s even a virtual Twitter account for Connors Jr..

    Published by Sony Pictures and produced with the help of Immersive, Like Father Like Son promises over eight hours of puzzles to solve. There’s also a branching narrative, which we’d hope means you can choose how to live out your day.

    Groundhog Day might not seem like the most obvious fit for a VR sequel. But the more we think about it, the more we’re falling in love with the idea. Plus, Tequila Works did great work with branching narratives in The Invisible Hours. Our hopes are surprisingly high for this one, then.

    Tagged with: Groundhog Day, Groundhog Day: Like Father Like Son, Tequila Works

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  • No VRLA Conference Planned For 2019
    No VRLA Conference Planned For 2019

    A large-scale Los Angeles VR conference is “on hiatus” in 2019, according to a co-organizer.

    VRLA grew from a meetup in 2014 to a multi-day conference in 2017 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Around 10,000 people attended the last event on May 4 and 5, 2018, according to co-organizer John Root.

    “VR is in a weird place right now, and we’re taking a break while it sorts itself out,” Root said.

    He said there’s still a possibility of VRLA events in the future but there are no plans right now.

    Layout of the VRLA show floor from 2018 hosted at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

    With VRLA out of the picture in 2019 that likely makes computer graphics conference SIGGRAPH at the end of July the best chance to get a peek at the future of VR and AR technology in the Los Angeles area.

    New games or platform announcements are also likely in connection with E3 in June.

    One of the booths from VRLA 2017 showcasing the interactive “Puffer Fish” 360 display. 

    A wide collection of AR and VR companies appeared at VRLA over the years, and its absence in 2019 is a notable one. There is still a full schedule of events in 2019 which are likely to preview future immersive technologies and software.

    Platform-centric developer conferences Google IO, F8 and WWDC will undoubtedly preview upgraded immersive technologies in Silicon Valley. In addition, Display Week and the Game Developers Conference will be major showcases for new VR technology and games in California. There is also a full film festival circuit where future VR and AR ideas are explored as well as other international conferences.

    Tagged with: los angeles, VR Los Angeles, vrla

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  • Try on Your Next Pair of Trainers Digitally With AR App Wanna Kicks It's the latest AR app from Wannaby.
  • It’s a Dog’s Life When Dex’s Day Out Slobbers onto Standalone Headsets HTC Vive Focus and Oculus Go are first in line.
  • The Messy Truth VR Experience Secures Social Justice Lumiere Award It stars Winston Duke, who played M’Baku in Black Panther.
  • Newly Revealed Microsoft Patent Points Towards HoloLens 2

    Microsoft is set to announce their HoloLens 2 in February. Do these patents show the future of Microsoft’s AR device? There’s currently a lot of discussion surrounding Microsoft’s HoloLens 2, which is rumored to be making its unveiling at Mobile World Congress in February. We don’t know too many of the details around the device

    The post Newly Revealed Microsoft Patent Points Towards HoloLens 2 appeared first on VRScout.

  • Onward’s v1.5 Update Adds new Map, Game Mode and More It's free on Steam for the next couple of days.
  • Oculus Go Update Adds Expanded Power Options, Audio In Screen Recordings, More
    Oculus Go Update Adds Expanded Power Options, Audio In Screen Recordings, More

    The latest Oculus Go updates bring a new power section to the settings, audio when recording video, and more.

    The Power settings lets you toggle the Battery Saver mode (added late last year) as well as whether you want the headset to turn on automatically when you put it on. You can also set how long the headset should wait before going to sleep after being taken off.

    Videos recorded in the Oculus Go now contain audio. Previously YouTubers had to use the 3.5mm port on the headset to extract the audio separately and sync it up. This is a very welcome change that should make it much easier to record Go content.

    A surprising update is that an option to Report users in social / multiplayer is now pinned to the main menu. At any time you can simply click the Report button and it’ll list everyone you’ve recently played with and prompt to start recording a video clip.

    Confusingly, Oculus Go updates aren’t sent out instantly. Instead, they’re rolled out in “waves”. Even more confusingly, certain features seem to be activated server-side, so getting an update doesn’t mean you’ll get all its features.

    In the past few months Facebook has also rolled out detailed storage settings. Previously you could only see how much storage was remaining. The new Storage Manager breaks down the storage used by each app, video, and image on the device. Given Go’s relatively anemic storage and lack of SD card slot this comes in handy for deciding what to delete.

    The Oculus UI now feels faster too- especially the web browser. Facebook may be hard at work optimizing the OS in time for Oculus Quest‘s release in Spring. With its higher $399 pricepoint, expectations of system responsiveness will also be higher.

    Tagged with: Oculus Go, oculus mobile, Oculus Quest

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  • PlayStation VR Definitely Won’t be Getting Expert+ for Beat Saber This Week It's most likely going to be next week now.
  • Waveguides vs Laser Displays: What You Need To Know To Understand The Smartglasses Market
    Waveguides vs Laser Displays: What You Need To Know To Understand The Smartglasses Market

    In this article we will make a comparison between waveguides and laser to holographic combiners. In doing so we will also look at North (formerly Thalmic Labs), their business success, and their IP, and place that into the context of the greater smartglasses market, and near-eye optics IP.

    What The Reader Will Gain

    This article is not meant to be a scholarly treatise, but rather an accessible overview, providing the reader with a baseline understanding of the competition between waveguides and laser displays, and how advances in the field of optics are changing the landscape in the consumer smartglasses market.

    Simple Displays

    A “combiner,” as the name implies, combines virtual content with the user’s view of the real world. The simplest combiner is essentially a two-way mirror. It may also be referred to as a “Pepper’s Ghost” display, referencing a Vaudeville era magic trick that employed two-way mirrors. A birdbath display is one that employs a curved combiner, a trick used to expand the display’s field-of-view.

    Simple beam-splitter displays were employed in early ODG glasses, such as the model R-7. A birdbath display was used in the META 2, and a miniature birdbath display was employed by ODG’s model R-9. It is also notable that ODG’s assets were put up for auction in January, and META was recently declared insolvent.

    So Let’s Look Instead At Waveguides

    Waveguides are employed in conjunction with a light-engine (a micro-display that projects into the optics). The light-engine feeds an input grating on one side of the waveguides. The light moves through the lens, and exits the waveguide through an output grating in front of the eye. Depending on whether the waveguide is a surface-relief or holographic waveguide, the optical elements are either engraved into the lens (subtractive), applied onto the lens (additive), or exposed within the lens as holographic mirrors.

    Now Let’s Look At Laser to Holographic Combiners

    Retinal lasers were pioneered in near-eye optic display systems by MicroVision, but their combiner was a more basic beam splitter. A collection of Swiss companies perfected the use of a laser reflected off of a holographic combiner, into the wearer’s eye. A holographic combiner uses a similar technique as a holographic waveguide: a series of micro-mirrors are holographically exposed into a lens, and a laser is directed—typically using a MEM Chip with a nano-scale mirror mounted on a dual-axis gimbal—to reflect the imagery into the eye.

    Where Have Laser to Holographic Combiners Been Deployed?

    Laser displays are “having a moment,” most notably with Focals by North—which employ a laser to holographic combiner display, and have recently launched to much fanfare and success.

    After initial work by MicroVision, laser displays saw more recent advancements coming out of Switzerland. A startup named Lemoptix developed some of the most advanced micro-opto-electromechanical systems (MOEMS)—essentially a laser and nano-mirror projection system—and Composyt Light Labs then employed Lemoptix laser projector into an RGB composited near-eye optics display module. Subsequently Intel acquired the combined companies. Composyt’s early devices stumbled with color compositing, and early last year a monochrome red version based on their technology was briefly deployed

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  • 5 Super Bowl VR Apps To Get You Primed For The Big Game
    5 Super Bowl VR Apps To Get You Primed For The Big Game

    It’s nearly game day! The Super Bowl 2019 is nearly upon us and the hot dogs are cooking. But if you’re hosting a party this year, what better way to get people hyped than with a VR headset? So here are the best Super Bowl VR experiences to get you ready for the big match.

    VR Sports Challenge (Rift)

    Want a slice of the blockbuster football experience? VR Sports Challenge gives you a taste of the all-star life. This snapshot of the big leagues lets you execute major plays, including game-winning throws and catches. Plus there’s a heck of a lot more than just football here; also look out for baseball, basketball and hockey games.

    2MD: VR Football (Rift, Vive, Windows VR, PSVR)

    If you’re looking for something that offers a more robust game then 2MD VR Football is your best bet. This still isn’t an entire football match in VR but it’s got more sport-specific features. You get to simulate the last two minutes of a game, calling the shots. On top of that mode, there’s also minigames to play and trophies to earn.

    ESPN (Go)

    Okay, actually playing football might be a little too exhausting. How about an immersive viewing experience, then? ESPN’s mobile VR app offers live coverage and highlights of a range of games. Take note that we’re not sure if the app will be showing the actual Super Bowl in VR this year, but it’s a good companion for any sports fan all the same.

    Super Bowl Experience (Location-Based)

    If you’re in Atlanta for the big game this year, you can get a taste of the Super Bowl experience. Head on over to the Georgia World Congress Center for a VR app that has you throwing a real ball. The experience seems to use a Rift with a different tracking system attached to it. Sadly there aren’t any real players to tackle you. Maybe that’s a good thing, though.

    Google Earth (Rift, Vive)

    Or, hey, maybe you’re not in town this weekend. But you can get the experience of being there with Google Earth. Take a trip to see the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in all its glory and switch over to Street View for a real life look. Just remember to come back in time for the real game.

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  • Facebook’s Leaders: The People Responsible For VR And AR Strategy
    Facebook’s Leaders: The People Responsible For VR And AR Strategy

    We’ve been following the development of VR headsets at Facebook since its acquisition of Oculus VR in 2014.

    That’s when Facebook, under the direction of CEO Mark Zuckerberg, bought the two-year-old Oculus VR startup. In the process, they hired Oculus employees John Carmack, Nate Mitchell, Michael Antonov, Brendan Iribe, Palmer Luckey, and a long list of engineers and researchers working on the Oculus Rift PC-powered VR headset, as well as the Gear VR phone-powered system. They also made significant new hires like Michael Abrash, formerly of Valve.

    Since then, hundreds upon hundreds of people joined the VR and AR teams at Facebook. Facebook itself ballooned to some 34,000 employees at the end of 2018, up from 23,000 a year earlier. In the build up, though, Oculus founders like Palmer Luckey and Brendan Iribe left Facebook as a layer of Zuckerberg-approved management was installed to lead the VR/AR efforts.

    Why is Facebook focusing on VR/AR?

    Facebook’s first three consumer products: Oculus Rift, Oculus Go and Portal.

    Here’s Zuckerberg’s explanation:

    We’re investing a lot in this because, frankly, we haven’t to date been a hardware company or an operating system company. We think that we need to build up a lot of different muscles in order to be competitive and be able to succeed in that space and to be able to shape that space.

    One of my great regrets in how we’ve run the company so far is I feel like we didn’t get to shape the way that mobile platforms developed as much as would be good…

    Zuckerberg is looking to secure a direct relationship with consumers. To do this, the AR/VR teams at Facebook are making hardware products. Facebook shipped three consumer products on this path — Oculus Rift, Oculus Go and Portal.

    These products come ahead of more robust efforts planned for 2019 and beyond.

    The Oculus Quest

    Mark Zuckerberg at the OC5 developer’s conference in 2018 unveiling the $400 Oculus Quest.

    In 2019, Facebook is releasing Oculus Quest as a $400 standalone console VR system with Touch controllers. More than 50 titles are already planned for the system. The Oculus Quest could represent Zuckerberg’s best chance yet at establishing that direct relationship with millions of customers. Quest is hardly the end of Facebook’s ambitions. Creative software apps like Medium and Quill flourished into full VR software products at Facebook while the Oculus research division became Facebook Reality Labs, with researchers working longer-term on technologies which could push VR and AR into more compelling products. The Half Dome varifocal prototype, for example, showcases a design that could provide sharper visuals up close and more comfortable long term use overall.

    Who is determining strategy in VR/AR at Facebook?

    Underneath Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer is VP of VR/AR Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, the Facebook executive formerly in charge of ads.

    Bosworth took on the new role in 2017.


    Facebook’s Goal

    Andrew “Boz” Bosworth on stage at Oculus Connect 5 in 2018.

    Before Andrew Bosworth, former Google executive Hugo Barra was put in charge of the VR/AR efforts.

    Now Barra reports to Bosworth as “VP AR/VR Product.”

    We’ve reached

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