The Current State Of Immersive Tech

The Current State Of Immersive Tech
August 1, 2017
Tom Cruise foreshadowing our near future in Miniority Report, 2002


For anyone that has been following the VR/AR scene, you may have noticed that keeping up with the pace of news has become increasingly difficult in the recent months. Whether it’s new HMD announcements, AR software releases or mega rounds such as Improbable’s ~$500m Series B in May, exciting things are happening every single day.


Just in the past week:


  • * Amazon patented a new AR technique that pinpoints to their ambitions of rolling out AR-commerce features to users
  • * Estée Lauder and ModiFace released a chatbot that lets users try and buy lipsticks using AR
  • * HTC teased its first standalone VR headset powered by Snapdragon
  • * Google’s Daydream lab developed a VR simulation to train people in making coffee in hopes of eliminating dull training videos
  • * A new study was published by the AICFVE suggesting that VR can actually improve children’s eyesight (who would have thought?)
  • * USC’s Fertility Lab started using VR for sperm collection (say what?)
  • * And ARKit continued to garner a ton of attention from developers around the world
Chicago-based TRIXI Studios recreates A-Ha’s iconic ‘Take On Me’ music video using ARKit


If things seem to be moving quickly, it’s because they are. Corporates have begun to invest heavily in the space and as a result, user adoption has begun to accelerate rapidly with over 15m VR headsets sold in 2016. Unsurprisingly, the rapid pace of innovation in the sector has led investors to pour over $2bn in ~200 VR/AR startups in the last 12 months.


$2bn! That’s 500,000,000 Egg McMuffins


As futurist Robert Scoble recently stated during an interview with Hayim Pinson regarding the VR/AR sector:


We’re about to see a radical new shift in user interface and it’s going to bring a lot of change to design, to product and to life


There is no denying that immersive technologies have the potential to completely alter the way we live our lives. How we work, play and socialize.


Companies around the world are already hard at work trying to solve some of society’s most profound issues using these technologies in ways that have not been previously possible. Rendever, for example, is trying to bring meaning back into the lives of elders with debilitating diseases using simulated worlds in VR, while Mindmaze is aiming to improve the neurorehabilitation process of stroke patients using 3D virtual environments.


But not everyone is here to solve deep ingrained issues. Some, like Niantic, are simply focused on making our lives more entertaining by merging our physical world with the virtual and bringing our favorite anime creatures to our backyards.

Who cares about Brexit when you gotta catch ’em all?


In short, things are happening and they are happening fast. Really fast.


Mark Zuckerberg laid it out well at last year’s F8:


”Over the next 10 years, the form factor’s just going to keep on getting smaller and smaller, and eventually we’re going to have what looks like normal-looking glasses that can do both virtual and augmented reality. As a matter of fact, when we get to this world, a lot of things that we think about as physical objects today, like a TV for displaying an image, will actually just be $1 apps in an app store.”


As Bob Dylan famously sang: The Times They Are A Changin’ — and changing they are. VR and AR are beginning to take the world by storm and are poised to create a market valued north of $100bn by 2021. As a result, the team at The Realities Centre, whom I’ve been helping for the past few months, have decided to set up the first London-based hub dedicated to nurturing the European immersive tech community. With over 4.7m developers across Europe, the talent exists. And with over 558 active investors and a huge angel community, the capital is present. In abundance.


What’s missing is specialized support at the early stages. We’re here to provide that. To help those seeking to change the world using VR/AR.


We’re already providing a space for startups in the sector to work from in the heart Shoreditch with hopes of expanding in the coming months (book a visit). We regularly host hackathons and industry-focused events to bring the community together (follow us on Twitter @RealitiesCentre to stay in the loop). We offer a myriad of courses and workshops on topics such a Unity Development and 360° video stitching through our training academy (email us for more information at


And soon we’ll be launching our very own VR/AR accelerator program. But more on that soon.


To show our enthusiasm for VR/AR , we’ve spent the past month drilling down into the nitty-gritty details of the sector. The insights we’ve discovered regarding the state of the market have made us incredibly optimistic about the future.


Now, we want to share them with you:


  • * $5.75bn raised by VR/AR startups since ’09 in >800 deals
  • * ~63% of all VR/AR deals were in the US; ~67% of all deals were seed
  • * Aggregate M&A transaction value in VR/AR in LTM was ~$600m
  • * 5 VR/AR unicorns birthed to date w/ a combined valuation of ~$15bn
  • * >600 VR/AR patents filed between ’09 and ’15; 25 in the last week
  • * VR/AR Jobs up 3x since 2015; >1,000 AR engineers currently at Apple
  • * >265m Android VR app downloads to date; 10m Google Cardboards sold
  • * >600 VR games available on Steam; only ~3% w/ >150k downloads
  • * Pokemon Go becomes first AR success w/ $1bn in revenue in <1 year
  • * Top 360° video on Youtube has ~20m views (not quite Despacito level)
  • * 360° camera market to grow at 35% CAGR from 2016 to 2020
  • * Oculus and Vive subreddits in the top 1,000; >150k combined members
  • * 51% of the US population knows what VR/AR is, up from 28% in ‘16
  • * <1% of PCs in ’16 were powerful enough to run VR; NVIDA stock soaring
  • * 40% of global VR HMD sales in ’17 to come from China


Download full report in high quality

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