Market Reality: Snap & Epic Games Acquisitions, Nreal v. Epic Games, AR on Oculus Quest, & HoloLens at the Olympics

It’s already been a banner year for mergers and acquisitions in the augmented reality industry, with WaveOptics and Ubiquity6 among the notable companies acquired. Two of the more active M&A players, Snap and Epic Games, continued their respective buying sprees this week with major deals supporting their AR strategies.

Speaking of Epic Games, its lawsuit against smartglasses maker Nreal took another plot twist, with the plaintiff firing back this week.

Back to Snap, the company released the latest version of Lens Studio with new features catering to retailers and shared a preview of a new AR app for Snap Spectacles. Meanwhile, their chief competitor, Facebook, unleashed some new AR superpowers for Oculus Quest.

Finally, BMW and the Olympic Games, by way of NTT Domoco and USA Today, have served up new AR content this week.

Snap Adds Its AR Arsenal with Another Acquisition

Snapchat parent company Snap has opened up its war chest to acquire yet another company that will play a role in its augmented reality ecosystem.

This week, Snap confirmed its acquisition of Vertebrae, an AR and 3D e-commerce startup with offices in Los Angeles and Austin, for an undisclosed amount.

Continue reading for more details on the deal and to learn how Vertebrae fits into Snap’s AR e-commerce ecosystem

Image via Vertebrae

REALITY BITES: In prepared remarks accompanying Snap’s second quarter 2021 earnings report, the company revealed that Snapchat is now up to 293 million daily active users, a 23% year-over-year surge. The app’s growth is attributed in part to its AR capabilities, with 200 million users interacting with AR Lenses daily. The AR hit this quarter was Cartoon Style 3D Lens, which tallied 2.8 billion impressions in its first week on Snapchat (and not counting content shared on other platforms like Twitter).

Epic Games Acquires Leading 3D Content Platform

Already among the leaders in AR development tools via its Unreal Engine, Epic Games has added another tanky weapon to its arsenal.

On Wednesday, the company announced its acquisition of Sketchfab, itself one of the leading repositories of 3D content for AR and VR experiences.

Read further to learn how the acquisition will impact Sketchfab’s existing services and how Sketchfab fits into the Metaverse plans at Epic Games

Image by Tommy Palladino/Next Reality

REALITY BITES: UK mapping agency Ordnance Survey has partnered with game studio Preloaded to publish a location-based AR game in the vein of Pokémon GO. Like Niantic, Ordnance Survey’s objective is to get players out of the house and into the great outdoors to play mobile games. However, while Pokémon GO players are easily spotted by their downward gaze toward their smartphones, the geocaching game from Ordnance Survey will endeavor to minimize screen time during gameplay.

Nreal Versus Epic Games Update

The legal battle between Epic Games and augmented reality startup Nreal isn’t cooling off anytime soon.

In a new twist, the Chinese startup, while defending itself against Epic’s lawsuit, has decided to file its own lawsuit against the games and software platform maker.

Keep reading for a recap of the legal saga and the latest blow struck by the defendant against the plaintiff

Image via Nreal

REALITY BITES: The chip shortage is starting to impact smartphone makers, according to the Wall Street Journal. Google, Samsung, and Xiomi are feeling the crunch, but Apple, a company with a reputation for excellence in supply chain management, has been immune, so far. The shortage does not bode well for smartglasses makers pitching smartphone-tethered wearables to the early-adopter consumer segment.

Facebook Unlocks Oculus Quest AR Capabilities for Developers

Facebook Reality Labs chief Andrew “Boz” Bosworth does a lot of hinting and teasing of what’s coming next at Oculus, often with only a vague timeline on the horizon.

However, on Friday, Boz finally delivered on a big tease he last highlighted back in April, and it has everything to do with augmented reality on the Oculus Quest.

Read further to find out more about the new AR capabilities for Oculus Quest and how, in a somewhat circuitous fashion, the Oculus Quest becomes Facebook’s first AR wearable

Image by Oculus/YouTube

New Spectacles AR App Transforms Reality into a Poetry Cafe

From the front lines of mainstreaming augmented reality smartglasses comes the latest update from Snap and its Spectacles wearable. This time the demonstration of the device’s powers comes from a more creative arts perspective.

New York-based poet and computer programmer Zach Lieberman managed to get his hands on a pair of Spectacles and decided to translate his words into immersive elements using Lens Studio.

Continue reading to find out how and why he built the Spectacles AR experience using Lens Studio…

Image via Snap

REALITY BITES: One Lens Studio developer has already gotten his feet wet with the new Upper Garment Segmentation template in Lens Studio 4.1. Hart Woolery shared his progress with the Lens, which tracks finger movements and anchors AR effects on a shirt or dress as that finger moves across the garment, in a tweet on Thursday.

BMW Returns to AR to Display Art Car Series

One app is continuing to make a name for itself as the go-to platform for celebrity art that transcends canvas and paint and moves in augmented reality.

The Acute Art app’s latest example of this comes from the likes of BMW and its stable of fine artists who have spent decades transforming the luxury car maker’s vehicles into works of art.

Keep reading to see the one-of-a-kind virtual BMWs available in the Acute Art app

Image via BMW

REALITY BITES: Enterprise businesses looking to adopt AR wearables in the field services functions can look to the ROI calculator from ThirdEyeGen to determine the savings from shifting to remote troubleshooting via AR from in-person site visits.

Snap Adds More AR Tools for Brands in Lens Studio 4.1

After adding full-body tracking and 3D body mesh in its past two Lens Studio updates, Snap continues to supply creators, particularly apparel retailers, with tools for creating clothing-centric AR experiences.

Arriving via Wednesday’s release of Lens Studio 4.1, the Upper Garment Segmentation template enables users to create the ability to project AR content shirts, jackets, dresses, and other similar clothing on multiple persons appearing in the camera view.

Continue reading to find out what else is new in Lens Studio 4.1 and to learn how Snap is building an e-commerce powerhouse with AR

Image via Snap

NTT Docomo Deploys HoloLens 2 for Olympics AR Content

On Friday, the Tokyo Olympics finally kicked off after massive delays and complications due to the pandemic. Part of the opening ceremonies included an Intel-powered drone show that put a virtual globe in the sky, but this weekend a different kind of virtual object innovation will be in play at the games thanks to augmented reality.

Japanese telecom giant NTT Docomo has launched a series of tech-powered innovations at the Olympics called the Tokyo 2020 5G Project. One of the most impressive innovations uses the Microsoft HoloLens 2.

Read on to see how the HoloLens 2 is bringing fans closer to the Olympics in AR

Image by Sankei News/YouTube

REALITY BITES: Microsoft isn’t the only tech giant working with the US military to integrate augmented reality into warfare. Samsung is working with defense contractor GBL Systems to deploy a 5G testbed for AR applications. The project is part of a larger $600 million Department of Defense contract to test 5G networks.

USA Today Features New Olympic Sports in AR

Speaking of the Olympics, USA Today has published two AR experiences highlighting two new sports, skateboarding and sports climbing, making their Olympics debut.

The AR experiences feature American professional skateboarder Tom Schaar and Team USA climber Kyra Condie, with a 3D scan of each athlete anchored in the camera view along with video clips and AR simulations of their signature moves.

Read further to see USA Today’s Olympics AR content

See AR simulations of moves like this one in the USA Today mobile app. Image by Olympics/YouTube

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 Vertebrae