One of the earliest players in the social virtual reality space, vTime, has just landed $7.6 million in new funding, which the company says is partially earmarked for developing and releasing an augmented reality version of its platform later this year.
"Bootstrapped from launch by founder and CEO Martin Kenwright, the Series A investment will accelerate global growth and product development, and fuel R&D for the brand's augmented reality experience coming later in the year," the company's website states.
The investment in the UK-based company, which was launched back in 2013, was led by Deepbridge Capital.
"The advent of consumer AR at scale is allowing us to use decades of expertise to develop another unique way to connect and engage with friends and family in alternate realities," said CEO Kenwright. "Crucially, Deepbridge share our vision for the future — both in delivering a matchless social XR experience and our expansive plans to monetize and build upon the vTime framework with future technologies."
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Among the various social VR experiences I've tested, vTime stands out as one of the most polished and immersive available. However, the problem with vTime hasn't been its look and feel, but the relatively small number of users (compared to traditional social media) on the platform.
According to Deepbridge Capital, the VR version of vTime logged 522,136 downloads across five different formats in 2016 and was projected to surpass 1 million downloads in 2017 (although those 2017 figures have not been confirmed). Currently, the app is available on Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift, Windows Mixed Reality, Google Daydream, Google Cardboard, and on Android devices and the iPhone.
But since even social VR apps from the mighty Facebook (Spaces) have had trouble catching on, it makes sense that vTime would attempt to find a way to port its virtual social interaction tools to AR.
Will it translate? Without seeing the final AR product, it's hard to say, but the refined vTime experience in VR indicates that this will be a social AR app worth keeping an eye on when it launches later this year.