Ahead of major virtual and augmented reality product releases early next year, such as the Oculus Rift and Samsung GearVR, investors are placing their bets
WakingApp, an augmented and virtual reality content developer, announced on Wednesday that it scored $4.3 million in Series C funding. Youzu Interactive (SZSE: 002174) and another unnamed Chinese company led the round while current investors Inimiti VC and Globis Capital also participated. WakingApp will use the investment to develop business in the U.S. and China, plus improve its main offerings: ENTiTi Creator and ENTiTi Viewer.
WakingApp’s cloud-based platform ENTiTi Creator lets users with no programming experience develop AR/VR content. Their tools tout providing live data feeds, games, 3D imaging and 3D animation. The company targets enterprise customers in different industries and states that its solution integrates with a number of AR/VR platforms like Samsung Gear VR, Epson Movario, and Vuzix.
“Heading into 2016, we see a strong and growing trend in the manufacturing of smart glasses, but many don’t realize that these products cannot exist long-term, if there is no content available for them,” said CEO Udi Shani. “The entry of Chinese investors, and their confidence in the company, brings significant market exposure to WakingApp and provides an unrivaled access point to the Chinese market.”
Virtual reality, real value
There is significant interest in China for virtual reality, with several local companies trying to beat yet-to-be-released devices. 3Glasses, Antvr, Baofeng Mojing, and DëePoon are in a market that sees two main types of VR headsets: mobile-based VR and all-in-one VR, according to a report in the Telegraph.
Youzu is a Chinese company focused on game development and distribution, with its most popular title being “League of Angels.” Its investment in AR/VR at this time might be indicative of their confidence in the technology ahead of the first releases of major AR/VR products, like Oculus early in 2016.
Daniel Chen Fan, Investment Director of Youzu Interactive, said the company wanted to get ahead of the game in an industry that was projected to grow to a value of $150 million by 2020.
“What impresses us about WakingApp is its ability to overcome a great user barrier by simplifying the way one creates AR/VR content, and we plan to bring this revolution to the Chinese market,” he said in a statement.
The augmented reality and virtual reality markets — often lumped together in analysis as VR/AR or AR/VR — are expected to grow significantly by the end of the decade. Digi-Capital estimates the combined market will be worth $150 billion (with $120 billion being in AR) by the end of the decade, while Technavio estimates AR alone will see a compound annual growth rate of 88.52% while virtual reality specifically in the gaming market will grow 25.97% through 2019.
Founded in 2013 by President Alon Melchner and administered by CEO Udi Shani, WakingApp is headquartered in Rosh Ha’Ayin, Israel.