For every new and growing technology, investment is critical to its development. So, for enthusiasts in this industry, augmented reality funding stories would always be received with joy. They could mean more hopes for advancement and eventually long term success for the technology.
As we see more uses of augmented reality and with the growing need to apply this technology in different industries and aspects of our lives, we also witness the rise of more stakeholders, pioneering new moves and advancing the AR course on different fronts.
Venture capital funding and other sorts of investment into augmented reality startups have been on for some years now. Stories of such huge fundings have often made rounds over the years.
For instance, in 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported that Google was leading a massive $542 million round of funding for Magic Leap Inc., a secretive visual display company working on augmented reality glasses that would project digital objects over a real-world environment. Such investments show that there is faith in augmented reality becoming the future of computing.
The cash hasn’t ceased to flow to different startups, and recently, RealWear raised $80 million in its Series B financing round. So far, this brings the total funding for the Vancouver, Washington-based AR startup to over $100 million.
The funds, which are a combination of equity and debt, will allow RealWear to keep expanding its market and accelerate the development of HMT, its popular hands-free platform.
While Teradyne, Inc. (TER), a global leader in industrial automation, led the investment drive, Bose Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures LLC (QCOM), Kopin Corporation (KOPN) and JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM) were part of the other investors who raised the funds.
According to Forbes, Columbia Ventures Corporation (RealWear’s Series A lead) and other early seed investors also took the opportunity to increase their investments in the company. CVC led the Series A round in February last year, alongside Mentors Fund, Realmax Technology, and Plug and Play Tech Center, which raised $17 million.
RealWear is the producer of the HMT-1, which the company describes as “the best ruggedized head-mounted wearable Android-class tablet computer that frees a worker’s hands for dangerous jobs. The hands-free monocular HMT-1 is purpose-built for Connected Worker programs in the industrial enterprise and is safely controlled with just your voice, even in extremely noisy environments.”
According to the company, the HMT-1 “delivers safer, faster, smarter work – 100% hands-free.”
The HMT-1 was debuted in September, 2017, and has till date seen 15,000 unites shipped to 1,300 industrial enterprises around the world, Forbes reported. With a 500% year over year growth, RealWear is leading in the head-mounted wearables market, currently estimated to be owning a market share of 40-50%.
RealWear’s HMT platform is focused on offering connected work solutions, including
- Hands-free image and video capture
- Remote video calling
- IoT data visualization
- Digital workflow
- Document navigation and others
RealWear aims at helping industrial workers improve safety and increase productivity using augmented reality. Its head-mounted device is composed of a camera, speaker and microphones, and is able to project a virtual Android tablet just below the line of sight of an industrial worker.
The HMT platform runs on Android, which allows for many apps to be easily loaded onto it, and it transforms them into a hands-free voice experience for industrial workers. Up to 120 apps run on the headsets.
By keeping them heads-up and hands-free, delivering on-demand information, RealWear’s technology helps workers increase their accuracy, situational awareness and efficiency.
In a statement, Mark Jagiela, Chief Executive Officer of Teradyne, Inc. (TER), said, “RealWear has created a powerful platform that aligns with our vision for a safer, more productive work environment powered by easy-to-use, rapid ROI automation solutions.
“RealWear’s strategy to leverage the power of advanced technologies like augmented reality to assist workers across a wide range of tasks has many parallels with Teradyne’s industrial automation strategy, and we look forward to helping RealWear continue their exciting growth.”
According to RealWear CEO, Andy Lowery, the company has been pragmatic in its fund-raising strategy.
“Our seed investments came from friends, family, early customers, suppliers, and business partners. Their faith carried us to our series A, led by Columbia Ventures Corporation,” he said, in a statement. “CVC’s experience in heavy industry, one of our primary markets, made it a perfect match. It was critical that RealWear’s new investors be business and technology leaders. Teradyne, Bose Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures, and Kopin fit that bill.”
In February 2018, ReportsnReports.com published a report: “Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Market by Offering (Hardware & Software), Device Type (HMD, HUD, Handheld Device, Gesture Tracking), Application (Enterprise, Consumer, Commercial, Healthcare, Automotive), and Geography – Global Forecast to 2023“. According to the report, the augmented reality market, which was valued at $11.14 billion in 2018, will reach $60.55 billion by 2023, growing at a CAGR of 40.29% during the forecast period driven by the increasing demand for AR devices in healthcare, growing demand.
One of the things it attributed the expected growth to was “rising investment in the augmented reality market.” The report also noted that the use of HMDs in the manufacturing sector will drive the growth of enterprise application in the augmented reality market.
With such augmented reality funding stories as that of RealWear, it is safe to say that there is faith in the future of augmented reality for enterprise applications.