Pokemon Go now looks like much more than a passing trend.
In fact, it looks a bit like the future of Facebook as envisioned by Mark Zuckerberg at the F8 conference this week. Add to that Snapchat’s filters and rumors that Apple will soon wade into the AR platform war (see Quid’s full analysis here), and it seems augmented reality is inching closer to becoming everyone’s new everyday reality.
At Quid, we mapped 1,364 private companies working in augmented reality (AR) to see who is biggest in which focus areas.
In the map, we can see which companies either mention Facebook or have Facebook as a parent company.
Those that mention Facebook in their company description are often startups like PinMySpot, an app builder that uses AR to help you pin pictures to the exact location where you took them. Though Facebook has made other virtual reality acquisitions, the AR-related acquisition we see in the network is 13th Lab, a Stockholm company that develops computer vision for mobile devices.
The hottest areas for investment
A number of insights stand out in the Quid Heatmap view (below).
First: though there are far fewer AR companies working in AI (artificial intelligence) than in any other category, the amount of investment at the intersection of AR and AI is sky-high: $1.4 billion invested over a roughly ten-year period. Sports and Smart Glasses place second and third behind AI, respectively. The total investment in all AR companies over ten years: $4.4 billion.
Next: AR is all about games.
While the cluster with the largest number of companies is Image Recognition & Computer Vision, if we could combine the clusters Games for Children, Video Games and Location-Based Services & Games, we would create a mega-group that dwarfs all others in terms of both number of companies and investment received.
Zooming in on Location-based Games & Services, we can see that the cluster breaks down into two distinct sub-clusters: companies related to tourism -- including city guides, treasure hunts and other activities -- and a sub-cluster full of AR games, including Niantic's Pokemon Go.
While it’s impossible to predict which would be a Pokemon-like hit, the principles are the same in many. The games can be played live with friends; they are role-play, adventure or scavenger-hunt type games; and they involve using your AR and a smartphone to project gnomes, treasure chests or magic portals onto the real-world scenes in front of you.
In a timeline view showing major funding events, we can see that Magic Leap -- the AR media darling of last year -- accounted for a huge chunks of the funds raised: $592 million in 2014, and $793.5 million last year. Last year, other notables included Unity Technologies with $181 million and MindMaze with an even $100 million in investment.
In Quid, we can also see that there are three new AR companies entering the market in 2017, including Loly, an AR dating company whose website says simply: “Stay tuned.” Perhaps with AR, snagging a date will be soon as easy as catching a Pokemon.
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