As augmented reality gains popularity, the demand for delivering related services and generating content increases. This is demonstrated by a pair of investments from the past week, one in the expansion of a technology lab and another in the form of seed funding for a content studio.
Commerce consultancy SMITH has committed a "multi-million-dollar investment" into SMITH Labs, a technology arm that develops augmented and virtual reality experiences and artificial intelligence tools for retailers.
Operating out of Ottawa-Gatineau in Canada, SMITH Labs has developed mixed reality store that enables customers and salespeople to occupy a shared augmented space and interact with product holograms.
Another innovation from the lab is an invisible interface that uses facial recognition to identify customers, a voice interface to interact with them, and displays to recommend purchases based on history and preferences.
"We're creating new growth opportunities for brands and enhancing commerce experiences for customers with mixed reality and AI. Add emotion sensing technologies and our creative visual design to the mix, and the outcomes are truly amazing. SMITH Labs enhances our existing strength in commerce with the kind of breakthrough experiences that most agencies are just starting to think about," said Tony Steel, CEO of SMITH, in a news release.
Augmented and virtual reality content studio UNLTD (short for UNLIMITED) has closed a seed funding round of $1.1 million.
An investment group led by Richard Adler of Interdomus, Rex Media Capital, Senvest Capital, Claude Gagnon, and Richard Bridgwood, with Adler and Stuart "Kip" Cobbett of Rex Media Capital joining the board of directors for UNLTD.
The company will apply the funding towards an expansion of their AR/VR services for clients, who include Universal Pictures, A&E Networks, L'Oréal Cosmetics and Intercontinental Hotels, and development of original content for commercial distribution, such as their VR sci-fi series Trinity.
"Virtual and augmented reality are the next frontier in entertainment and branded content. At UNLTD we are committed to driving immersive content to new levels. It's an amazing new storytelling platform and we're developing cutting edge production techniques for immersive content," said John Hamilton, co-founder and CEO of UNLTD, in a statement.
Every Friday, Next Reality reviews the latest headlines from the financial side of augmented and mixed reality. This weekly Market Reality column covers funding announcements, mergers and acquisitions, market analysis, and the like. Check out previous editions of Market Reality for more news you may have missed.