Market Reality: Meta Claims Insolvency, ODG Ends in Fire Sale, New Smartglasses Flood CES 2019

Meta Claims Insolvency, ODG Ends in Fire Sale, New Smartglasses Flood CES 2019

The week of the annual Consumer Electronics Show is supposed to be filled with good news for the augmented reality industry as AR headset and smartglasses makers show off their new wares.

Alas, as CES wrapped this week, a dark cloud hung over the AR hardware fraternity. We learned that two darlings of CES past, Meta Company and Osterhout Design Group, collapsed under the weight of unfulfilled expectations. Meanwhile, the assets of Blippar, which fell into the UK equivalent of bankruptcy last month, will go on sale next week, with one very intriguing suitor among the bidders.

Still, the sun did shine on CES, as AT&T announced an expansion of its partnership with Magic Leap to pursue enterprise opportunities.

Financial & Legal Troubles Push Meta to the Brink

The last time we heard from Meta, the makers of the Meta 2 augmented reality headset, things looked pretty bleak. Now, as several new facts have come to light, we have confirmation regarding the beleaguered company's fate: Meta is done.

As we reported back in September, the company was forced to furlough the majority of its staff after failing to secure a new $20 million funding round from investors. On Wednesday, a filing with a Delaware court inadvertently revealed that Meta is insolvent, and is, for all intents and purposes, finished.

To find out what happened and what went wrong, continue reading. Then, read further for updates to this continuing saga...

REALITY BITES: On Friday, developer Sean Ong posted a Twitter poll asking his followers whether they think the HoloLens 2 will make an appearance at the Mixed Reality Developer Summit in London on June 17. In a coy response, Microsoft HoloLens inventor Alex Kipman shared a screenshot of his answer of "maybe/can't comment" along with a pair of smiley faces -- a winky face and tongue-wagging one. Is this a non-answer answer?

ODG Falls with Patents & Assets Up for Sale

Despite the hype and potential of immersive computing, the augmented reality industry is showing that it is not invincible, as another AR hardware maker, this time Osterhout Design Group (ODG), is reportedly going out of business.

On Tuesday, asset liquidator Hilco Streambank will begin to sell assets of ODG, including a portfolio of more than 100 awarded patents, an assortment of patent applications in various stages of the evaluation process, trademarks, and "tangible collateral supporting the business."

But before the company's assets hit the auction block, ODG had acquisition talks with several interesting suitors, with one AR hardware company reportedly making an offer. Read further to find out who kicked the tires on ODG, and what's left for bidders to buy up...

Image by ODG/YouTube

REALITY BITES: Rap feuds are fun to follow, but what about beef between 3D engines? Unity, which started the week on a note of goodwill as it looks to award $25,000 to an app that "inspires meaningful change," finds itself in a war with words with Improbable, which had its license revoked for violation of Unity's terms of service. Then, Epic Games stepped into the fray, partnering with Improbable to establish a $25 million fund to move games built on Improbable's SpatialOS to "more open engines." However, Unity has responded that games built on SpatialOS are not impacted by Improbable's ban. Pop some popcorn and dig in for all the juicy deets.

Layar Founders Place Bid to Take Back Company in Blippar Asset Sale

After entering the administration (UK's version of bankruptcy) last month, Blippar's assets are up for sale, and bidding ended today.

But now, with Blippar's story nearly at an end, a surprise twist has entered the company's story — the founders of Layar, which was sold to Blippar in 2014, are one of the bidders for Blippar's assets.

Continue reading to learn more about Layar's history with Blippar and what the co-founders could do with the app, as well as what other Blippar assets are up for sale...

Image by Layar/YouTube

REALITY BITES: While many recognize South by Southwest (SXSW) for its music showcases, the festival also serves as a tech expo. This week, SXSW announced the finalists for its annual startup competition, SXSW Pitch. The finalists are divided into 10 categories, including an AR/VR grouping.

AT&T Eyes Enterprise AR Market via Magic Leap Partnership

With CES in full swing, it seemed like Magic Leap would have little to announce at the major tech event, but it turns out that one of its partners has weighed in with a rather substantial update regarding the company.

On Wednesday, AT&T announced that it would be expanding its 5G technology-fueled partnership with Magic Leap to include enterprise business efforts.

Keep reading for more details on the enterprise business use cases AT&T plans to explore with Magic Leap...

REALITY BITES: WaveOptics has its eyes on the consumer smartglasses market, and it has shored up its supply chain in order to scale up its operations. At CES 2019, the company added two more original design manufacturers in Compal and Wistron, as well as a long-term supply agreement with Corning, which will provide high-index glass wafers for WaveOptics waveguides.

Investors Pledge $15 Million in Funding to Smartglasses Maker Nreal

The emerging narrative as CES begins is that consumer-grade smartglasses require a heavy compromise in functionality in order to arrive at a form factor and price point that appeal to mainstream customers.

China-based startup Nreal is ready to subvert those expectations with Nreal Light, stylish smartglasses available in a variety of colors that match North Focals and Vuzix Blade in form factor, but with features more similar to those found on high-end AR headsets.

Read on for more details on the show-stopping smartglasses and how the company convinced investors to bet $15 million on them...

REALITY BITES: We've established a new section on Next Reality that pulls together all the news on the business of augmented reality. So if you're craving news on investments, executive arrivals and departures, market analysis, and the like, check out our AR Business section!

Every week, 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.

Cover image via Meta Company/YouTube

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