Investment in augmented reality remained robust in 2019. For the third consecutive year, we looked back on the biggest funding deals in the AR industry this week, and a familiar name came out on top.
One of the companies investing in AR, Qualcomm, announced its new chipset for next-generation AR wearables. Meanwhile, one of the companies standing among the top AR investments, Nreal, unveiled an enterprise AR app built in partnership with Qualcomm.
Elsewhere, augmented reality wearables had a few rock star moments this week, with Microsoft's HoloLens 2 appearing on Fox's The Resident and Snap's proto-smartglasses, Spectacles 3, getting a Hollywood makeover.
It's safe to say that we can call the annual ranking of AR investments a holiday tradition at Next Reality.
Following our 2018 and 2017 editions of the biggest AR investments, we've expanded the list to include the top 25 this year.
Continue reading to see where the money is going in the AR industry...
REALITY BITES: While Magic Leap is the top-funded AR company for 2019, it also seems to be showing cracks in its financial foundation, according to some. Based on a report from the subscription-only The Information by way of The Verge, Magic Leap has laid off dozens of employees within the last month and, within the first six months of its release in 2018, sold only 6,000 units of Magic Leap One versus its target of 100,000.
On Thursday, Qualcomm took yet another step towards the future of augmented reality headsets and smartglasses with a new chip for next-generation AR hardware, along with a reference design to guide wearables makers.
On the third day of the Snapdragon Tech Summit in Maui, Hawaii, Qualcomm unveiled the Snapdragon XR2 5G, the company's processor platform that facilitates the visual, audio, and interactions for AR wearables via artificial intelligence and 5G network connectivity.
Read further to learn more about the next-generation AR chipset and what it promises to provide the AR wearables segment...
REALITY BITES: Speaking of Qualcomm, location-based game developer Niantic has entered into a multi-year partnership with the chipmaker to design end-to-end hardware, software, and cloud architecture that integrates the XR2 platform into the Niantic Real World Platform. In addition, participants in the Niantic Creator Program will have advance access to the architecture.
As a frequent collaborator with Qualcomm, it would be kind of weird if Nreal didn't have something new to unveil at this week's Snapdragon Summit.
Luckily, we can put that feeling of unease behind us, as the augmented reality smartglasses maker has given attendees at Qualcomm's conference in Hawaii a peek at how the Nreal Light can go to work for enterprises.
Continue reading to learn more about Nreal's enterprise play, the AR FieldAdvisor app, and why it makes sense on consumer-grade smartglasses...
REALITY BITES: On Tuesday, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin stepped down from their executive roles and appointed Sundar Pinchai as CEO of Google and its parent company, Alphabet. Google's augmented reality efforts have flourished under Pinchai's leadership, so there's little to suggest that would change now. But, considering that the founders were among Magic Leap's first supporters and Brin led the initial charge for Google Glass, it's a change worth noting.
The HoloLens 2 hasn't even reached most of the market, but it's already a big-time TV star.
Microsoft's augmented reality device made its primetime debut on FOX TV last night on an episode of the hospital drama The Resident.
Keep reading to learn more about the growing role of the HoloLens 2 in medical device space and what it says about the status quo of healthcare AR...
REALITY BITES: DigiLens has hired an AR industry veteran who could play a key role in getting its waveguide displays into more AR wearables. After stints at Real Wear and ODG, Nima Shams has accepted the role of vice president of product engineering and management, with an initial focus on "product ideation and development" for "next-generation optics for AR devices."
After several iterations of the product, Snap is focused on making sure the world knows that its smartglasses can be fashionable.
This week, during a private event at Art Basel Miami Beach 2019, Snapchat's parent company pulled the curtain up on its limited-edition Spectacles x Gucci by Harmony Korine, designed by the fashion brand specifically for the art exhibition.
Continue reading to learn more about the special edition Spectacles 3, see what else Korine is doing with the wearable, and find out what this means for Snap's approach to future AR smartglasses...
REALITY BITES: It's 5G cuffing season for carriers and AR companies. After Verizon hooked up with Snapchat, KDDI has cuddled up with Facebook. The Japanese carrier will reportedly leverage Facebook's AR and VR technology to showcase its 5G network.
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.