Market Reality: Epic Games $1 Billion Raise, Apple AR Surprise, Deutsche Telekom Smartglasses & HoloLens Helps Intel

Epic Games $1 Billion Raise, Apple AR Surprise, Deutsche Telekom Smartglasses & HoloLens Helps Intel

The Metaverse, or AR cloud, has been a sci-fi dream for decades, but only recently have companies begun to actually develop the technology to build it. With its latest funding round, Epic Games is suddenly a front-runner in this pursuit.

Likewise, smartglasses are another of those tech fantasies that are now gaining steam, with Apple the favorite to come out on top. However, startup Tooz (with backing from telecom giant Deutsche Telekom) and AR wearables pioneer Google shouldn't be counted out.

Despite the race for consumer smartglasses, the current market for AR headsets rests almost solely on the enterprise segment, where Microsoft has made inroads with Intel as one of its customers.

Finally, brands are continuing to apply mobile AR ads to market their goods, with AR experiences from Airstream and BMW among the latest examples.

Epic Games Closes $1 Billion Funding Round to Develop the Metaverse

Over the past three years, Epic Games has raised billions of dollars in funding on the success of Fortnite as well as Unreal Engine, one of the top 3D engines available for developing games and AR experiences. But, with its latest massive funding round, it has its eyes set on the Metaverse.

On Tuesday, Epic Games closed a $1 billion funding round that brings its total equity valuation to $28.7 billion. The company will apply the funding towards future growth opportunities, chief among them Epic's flavor of the Metaverse.

Read further for more details on the funding round, including who invested, what the Metaverse is, and how Epic Games could implement it...

Image by Epic Games/YouTube

REALITY BITES: For a venture capital perspective on Epic Games and the Metaverse, Matthew Ball, a managing partner at Epyllion Industries penned an essay about the Metaverse and how Epic may implement its flavor of the concept.

Apple Adds One More Thing to Event Invite via AR

Apple's augmented reality teases just keep on coming from the halls of its Cupertino labs. The latest comes in the form of an invitation to Apple's next public-facing event.

Slated for April 20, at 1 p.m. ET, the Apple invite is a simple swirl of color in the shape of the company's iconic logo. But the invite also hides an AR surprise.

Continue reading to see how to unlock the AR experience and learn why this particular AR Easter Egg is so much more tantalizing than others from Apple...

Images by Adario Strange/Next Reality

REALITY BITES: A survey of more than 9,650 consumers in 19 countries by Accenture reveals that 95% of respondents made at least one lifestyle change during the COVID-19 pandemic that they expect to retain as a permanent habit. One example of a lifestyle shift brought on by quarantining and social distancing is online shopping, which saw an increase of 343% among shoppers who previously made less than 25% of their purchases online before the pandemic. According to Jill Standish, senior managing director and head of Accenture's global retail industry group, product visualization via augmented reality was one of leading technology strategies adopted by retailers reacting to the e-commerce surge.

Microsoft Sells Intel on Using HoloLens to Build Chips

The enterprise applications powering the adoption of the HoloLens 2 are only just ramping up as developers continue to work with the still relatively new hardware. But one tech giant, namely Intel, is showing off how it's already harnessing the features of the HoloLens 2 to transform its internal operations.

In a new video recorded on the factory floor of Intel's semiconductor fabrication facility in Ireland (its European headquarters), the company gives us a rare behind-the-scenes tour that precisely demonstrates how the high-end augmented reality device is being utilized.

Read further for more details on how Intel is using the HoloLens 2 to build its processors...

Image via Intel Ireland

REALITY BITES: Booz Allen Hamilton will use Taqtile's Manifest AR platform to test AT&T 5G capabilities at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington. The project is part of a $600 million Department of Defense effort to test 5G networks at five military bases in the US. Taqtile's platform will run a combat training program.

Deutsche Telekom Offering Tooz Smartglasses via Dev Kit

If you're a developer working on the bleeding edge of augmented reality, or even an enthusiastic smartglasses early adopter, being first in line for new wearable hardware is a priority.

Along those lines, Europe's Deutsche Telekom has opened up an opportunity to score a pair of its Tooz smartglasses before the official consumer launch.

Continue reading to find out what makes Tooz different from other smartglasses and how to gain access to a pair...

REALITY BITES: Augmented reality has become an oft-notched arrow in the 5G marketing quiver for mobile carriers. In the latest example, T-Mobile is demonstrating its commitment to 5G innovation through its 2021 T-Mobile Accelerator Spring Immersive Technology Program program. The carrier selected eight AR/VR startups from the US, Canada, and Israel to participate in the accelerator.

Google Staffing Up for Consumer Smartglasses Development

With Apple, Facebook, Snap, and even Pokémon GO maker Niantic working toward consumer-grade smartglasses, Google is conspicuously absent, either in rumor or public disclosure.

But that might be changing, as recent job postings suggest that Google is shoring up its hardware resources for AR wearables.

Continue reading to see who Google is looking to hire, what they'll be working on, and why this means consumer-grade smartglasses from Google are on the way...

Image by North/YouTube

REALITY BITES: Niantic is commemorating Earth Day with the 2021 edition of its Sustainability Campaign, which encourages players to clean up their neighborhoods, plant trees, shrubs, or other native plants, or volunteer their time with a nonprofit organization. If enough players participate, Niantic will unlock perks in Pokémon GO, Ingress, and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.

Airstream & BMW Showcase Luxury Products in AR

The year 2020 sparked a trend of people moving out of big cities, with some opting to buy mobile homes and vans to travel rather than be cooped up in a tiny apartment during quarantine. Predictably, that led to a bit of an inventory shortage. But now that demand is eased a bit in 2021, Airstream is using augmented reality to sell one of its best vehicles available.

In addition, BMW has launched a web-based AR experience that serves as an immersive augmented reality showroom for three of BMW's Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs), namely the X5, X1, and 3 Series Touring.

Read on to see how Airstream is showing off its Basecamp 20 camper in AR, then read further to check out the bells and whistles of the AR models in the BMW Virtual Viewer...

Images by Adario Strange/Next Reality, Tommy Palladino/Next Reality

REALITY BITES: Vuforia parent company PTC has formed a partnership with 3D and AR platform maker VNTANA aimed at optimizing 3D assets for retailers and consumer product manufacturers. As part of the alliance, PTC will integrate VNTANA's algorithms into its FlexPLM platform for use in e-commerce augmented reality tools, such as product visualizers.

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.

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Cover image via Epic Games/YouTube

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