I recently posted a blog about the status and markets for both Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies. That blog made a case for AR as the next evolution of mobile communication. News of recent investments in AR startup Magic Leap, such as this article in Forbes, warrants an update on this still secretive company.
Investor’s Business Daily reported that Magic Leap raised a $793.5M Series C round of funding. The investment was led by Alibaba, the e-commerce giant from China, with participation from existing investors Google and Qualcomm Ventures. Other new investors included Warner bros, Fidelity, J.P.Morgan, Morgan Stanley, T.Rowe Price, KKR, Kleiner Perkins, and others. This may well be the largest “C” round in Internet history.
What’s all the excitement about? Magic Leap’s technology along with several other competing AR products in development have the potential to have an impact on major markets, including mobile communications and e-commerce, by making it possible to create stunning digital image environments on top of the physical world. Great AR experiences would allow online shoppers a way to see what they are buying.
Watch the above image in action, and imagine that the object in your hands is a consumer electronic device, a watch, or a piece of jewelry. Entire “virtual store” images would allow you to walk the aisles and browse. Your mobile phone could become AR glasses with voice recognition with images displayed in the lenses.
Large investments in new technology areas don’t always guarantee market success, and there’s no doubt the AR and VR spaces are both attracting record breaking infusions of funding. When combined with the participation of the biggest names in high tech like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple, and that it’s time for a new wave of disruptive innovation, it appears we have a perfect storm upon us. While it isn’t clear when some of this technology will be in consumer’s hands, the industry buzz is undeniable. I saw immediate interest in my AR blog from industry publications, and was interviewed for this iMedia Connection article Virtual Reality Check: Q&A with Charlie Kraus of Limelight Networks. Expect to hear about AR and VR developments, and demonstrations at upcoming trade show events throughout 2016.