1)HTC VIVE’S VIVEPORT LAUNCHES SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE
First launched back in September of 2016, Viveport is the app marketplace exclusive to the HTC Vive-- almost HTC’s answer to Oculus Home, if you will. Featuring a wide array of content, not just games, Viveport has released a subscription service. It seems that most early adopters (often hardcore gamers) have preferred Valve-owned Steam VR (which features mostly gaming content), but that could start changing. If you can now spend $6.99 a month and get unlimited access to 5 titles that are normally priced anywhere from $10 to $50, that could be an incentivize for users to give Viveport a try. Pay attention-- monetization models are a big experiment at this point, so a lot of people are taking notes on this one.
Related Stocks: HTC Corporation ($2498.TW)
2)PLAYSTATION CONSIDERS ARCADE ROLLOUT
According to a recent report from the Wall Street Journal, PlayStation is developing strategic partnerships to roll out a location-based entertainment play for PSVR like VR video game arcades. Despite the WSJ’s opinion that this tactic is a response to slower-than-expected sales, in February Sony disclosed that their sales numbers were on track to exceed their internal goal of 1M units in 6 months (and location-based activations were likely integrated into their strategy from the beginning). Although it does not seem that PlayStation is planning on owning and operating the facilities at this point, they have confirmed that a lot of new PSVR games are in active development from Chinese companies-- so expect to add more titles to your PSVR favorites like Resident Evil.
Related Stocks: Sony Corporation ($SNE)
3)SHAZAM IS STILL LISTENING, BUT IS LOOKING TO GETTING AUGMENTED
You know you’ve made it when your company name becomes a verb. Shazam’s initial audio focus as a music-identifying (and then selling) service has grown into an advertising-based revenue model. Shazam Codes (sort of a fresh twist on QR codes) rolled out a year ago and enable users to unlock games, deals, or other experiences. Now, they’re taking the embrace of the visual even further, and steering Shazam into augmented reality. The new CTO, Richard Sharp, has been brought on board to help develop and integrate AR technologies into the app, saying that they are “sitting on a goldmine of data…[and] can predict what’s going to be in the Top 40.” Their recent partnership with Snapchat lets you Shazam song from your friends’ snaps, and Snap, Inc. is also a company focused on AR development. You might imagine some fun ways that we can Shazam the world around us in the future… like through Spectacles, perhaps?
Related Stocks: Snap Inc. ($SNAP)
4)AMD WANTS TO GO WIRELESS
AMD has acquired Austin, TX-based wireless chip maker Nitero-- their IP as well as their team. Although the terms of the deal were not disclosed, this acquisition helps AMD catch up to competitors like Intel and Qualcomm (who already have their own wireless chip divisions). Nitero is quite involved in the VR/AR industry, specifically with headset manufacturers and Valve, and no doubt AMD will leverage those connections to their benefit. Along with the growing demand for wireless HMDs is the need for wireless chips, and with the combined strength of AMD and Nitero’s technology we might see enhanced VR performance. AMD has touted the need for higher resolution for photorealistic VR-- and while we won’t see 16K-level anytime soon, this is one step closer to the Matrix.
5)INVESTMENT & FUNDING WRAPUP
San Francisco-based company Lightform came out of stealth mode with a $2.6M seed investment to continue development on a computer and 3D scanning device that enables you to quickly scan detailed scenes and turn any real-world object (like a building) into a screen without any distortion. Although this process is well-known as projection mapping, Lightform claims that this is the “world’s first computer for projected AR.” The seed round was led by Lux Capital and Seven Seas Partners, with participation from the National Science Foundation and angel investors.
Pasadena, CA-based data visualization and analytics company Virtualitics, Inc. has announced a $4.4M Series A funding round. The company combines VR/AR data visualization, artificial intelligence, natural language, and machine learning that empowers users to examine huge amounts of data in a shared virtual office and collaborative environment. The company boasts an impressive team, with stellar resumes ranging from NASA JPL to Deutsche Bank. The round was led by the Venture Reality Fund, and co-founder and general partner Marco DeMiroz says that the “company’s platform is truly transformative and can be applied to any industry that relies heavily on data analytics, representing tremendous market opportunity on a global scale.”
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