Market Reality: Apple & Facebook Spill AR Details, Niantic’s AR Transformers, Looking Glass Unboxed, & Snap’s Viral Lens

The makers of arguably the two most important mobile AR apps, Niantic and Snap, both had good news this week, with the former preparing to replicate its success with Pokémon GO for another franchise and the latter notching another popular augmented reality Lens for Snapchat.

Meanwhile, leaders of two of the top companies vying to take on consumer-grade AR wearables (Apple and Facebook) tipped their hands ever so slightly this week.

In other news, Tencent continues in its role of investing in the AR ecosystem and Looking Glass is showing the world a different take on immersive experiences with the Portrait 3D display.

Niantic Bringing Transformers into Mobile AR Gaming

With the tagline “More Than Meets the Eye,” the Transformers franchise was pretty much preordained to have its own augmented reality game, and AR gaming pioneer Niantic has stepped up to fulfill that destiny.

Niantic will now join forces with toymakers Hasbro and Tomy and development studio Very Very Games to build Transformers: Heavy Metal on its Lightship AR cloud platform.

Continue reading to learn what we can expect from the title and to find out the odds on Transformers dethroning Pokémon GO as king of mobile AR gaming

Images via Niantic

REALITY BITES: Niantic is one of the few unicorns (privately-held startups valued at $1 billion or greater) in the augmented reality industry, but that may change soon. According to Bloomberg, bankers for Niantic have explored being acquired by a number of potential suitors. One of those companies was Microsoft, which passed on an acquisition deal. Niantic CEO John Hanke dismissed the talks as standard protocol and insists Niantic is focused on remaining independent.

CEO Tim Cook Hints at About Apple’s AR Hardware Future

The Apple rumor mill never stops churning and when it comes to augmented reality smartglasses, the chatter has been particularly hot in recent months.

Now Apple CEO Tim Cook has made a new appearance where he makes a few comments that may stoke even more excitement for what’s coming next in that direction.

Read further to find out what Cook had to say about Apple’s augmented reality future and how the company’s approach to product development differs from others in the smartglasses realm

REALITY BITES: Shopify has acquired the team behind the AR app Primer for an undisclosed amount. The Primer app, which uses augmented reality to project virtual paint and wallpaper on physical walls, will shut down on July 10 as the team transitions to work on “immersive shopping experiences” for Shopify.

Tencent Invests $50 Million into Ultraleap

Over the past decade, China tech giant Tencent has invested in several companies with varying roles in the augmented reality industry.

Its latest bet backs a startup with some short-term impact related to the COVID-19 pandemic but more future-focused growth potential in the coming AR smartglasses era.

Continue reading for more details on Tencent’s investment into Ultraleap, why Ultraleap is positioned for growth in the AR industry, and why strategic investors like Tencent are important to the evolution of AR software and hardware

Image by Ultraleap/YouTube

REALITY BITES: XYZ Reality, a UK-based startup developing AR solutions for the construction industry, closed a Series A round of funding worth $24.2 million led by Octopus Ventures. Octopus recently celebrated the exit of another AR startup in its portfolio, WaveOptics, via its acquisition by Snap.

Snapchat Notches Another Viral AR Hit with Cartoon 3D Style Lens

For its latest augmented reality trick, Snapchat has brought the world an AR Lens that has become a bit of a viral hit on Twitter as users turn themselves and their favorite movie stars into characters out of a Pixar movie.

According to a Snap spokesperson, more than 215 million Snapchat users have interacted with the Cartoon 3D Style Lens since its launch on June 10. The Lens has tallied more than 1.7 billion views over that period.

Keep reading to see what the Cartoon 3D Style Lens does and learn how to use it to remix your life in the style of Pixar animation

Images by Tommy Palladino/Next Reality

REALITY BITES: Dating back to the first quarter of 2020, Vuzix has enjoyed an upward trend in quarterly smartglasses sales, resulting in a company record $10.1 million in total sales for the year, according to a letter to shareholders. The company has continued its trajectory into 2021, increasing sales of its smartglasses by 150% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period last year. Prior to 2020, quarterly sales have averaged $1.2 million, but the past two quarters have exceeded $3 million in sales.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg Share Details About Facebook’s Smartglasses Progress

Ever since Facebook announced its partnership with Luxxotica brand Ray-Ban to produce smartglasses, the augmented reality space has been on high alert awaiting more details.

Unfortunately, those details have been scarce, until now. During a session at the Paris Viva Technology conference, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg offers a bit more detail on what the company has planned.

Read further to find out what Zuckerberg had to say about Facebook’s future smartglasses, then continue reading to learn why Facebook’s experimentation with advertising in VR isn’t necessarily a bad thing

REALITY BITES: Pokémon GO is not only the top mobile augmented reality game ever, but it also remains one of the top mobile games even today, ranking fourth in combined App Store and Google Play rankings for the first quarter of 2021, according to the 2021 Gaming Spotlight Report from App Annie and IDC. While no other AR mobile game has seen anything close to Pokémon GO’s success, there’s still an opportunity for a challenger to strike gold, as the report also shows that players worldwide are projected to spend $120 billion on mobile games this year, far outpacing PC/Mac, console, and handheld games combined.

Feast Your Eyes on the Looking Glass Portrait 3D Display

Not all Kickstarters are created equal. Some take forever to get their products to supporters, and when the product does arrive (usually much later than promised) it’s often very rough around the edges.

We can report that the exact opposite is the case with the Looking Glass Portrait holographic display, which ultimately raised over $2.5 million for its crowdfunding effort. Not only did the device come around the time it was promised, but the packaging and fit and finish are so well done that we felt it deserved the full unboxing treatment.

Keep reading to see what you get with the Portrait and our verdict on whether you should give the Looking Glass device a try

Image by Adario Strange/Next Reality

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.

Cover image via Apple