The economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic are felt in almost every business sector. As we look back at the top augmented reality investments of 2020, the AR industry is no exception.
While the total dollar value of this year’s top 10 investments was higher than any year since we started tracking AR funding in 2017, the results are a bit skewed by an astronomical round of funding at the top of the 2020 list.
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After deducting the highest round of financing each year, the average round of financing fell to nearly $ 64 million in 2020, compared to about $ 1
The silver lining, however, is that the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred investment in the corporate sector, where remote work solutions are more in demand than ever. As a result, six of the top 10 funding targets for 2020 have a tough business bias towards their business models.
In addition, augmented reality apps are increasingly used as the 3D content platform Marxent reported a 50 percent increase in content usage in the first three months of the pandemic (March through May) compared to the three months before. Year-on-year growth has also increased by 185 percent.
# 10 – Mira ($ 10 million)
Last we heard from Mira was that the company raised a $ 1 million round of funding to push Prism, a $ 99 headset poised to apply the Google Cardboard approach to AR. Since then, Mira has also focused exclusively on business, raising $ 10 million to pitch Prism to businesses.
# 9 – Spatial ($ 14 million)
Spatial closed its $ 14 million in January. 30. A day later, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency.
# 8 – Talespin ($ 15 million)
The Los Angeles-based startup closed its $ 15 million funding round in March after many companies began implementing remote working strategies, but before the nationwide lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Talk about perfect timing for a company making AR and VR training technology – ideal for the new normal. Talespin is also an early access partner with Magic Leap, so it is in an excellent position to take advantage of its pivot towards purely business solutions.
# 7 – Mad Gaze ($ 19 million)
The Chinese smart glasses industry has become a market segment in its own right. While Nreal is the most high-profile smartglasses maker with ties to China, Pacific Future, 0glasses, and Shadow Glasses also have their own products. And they all look … very similar. Count Mad Gaze as the rising star chasing Nreal, with a Serie A round of about $ 19 million helping it separate itself from the pack.
# 6 – Librestream ($ 24 million)
With the Onsight platform, Librestream uses the same remote assistance software for the business segment of the AR industry alongside Atheer, Upskill, Teamviewer, Scope AR and others. This year, the company upgraded its platform with Connected Expert, which uses computer vision to integrate IoT sensor data into the platform. The platform, along with the COVID-19 pandemic adding value to remote working technology, helped the Canada-based company close a $ 24 million Series D round.
# 5 – Nreal ($ 40 million)
While Mad Gaze caught the attention of investors, Nreal made even more. Despite production delays in February 2020 due to its proximity to the COVID-19 epicenter, Nreal managed to recover and raise a $ 40 million Series B funding round in September 2020.
# 4 – Envisics ($ 50 million)
WayRay was on the top AR investment list in 2017 and 2018, but the automotive AR company has been absent for the past two years. This leaves the door open to more competition for investment, with Envisics, a spin-off from the now-defunct Daqri, taking the opportunity. The company closed a Series B round of approximately $ 50 million in October, which included General Motors, Hyundai Mobis and SAIC Motors. It’s no coincidence that GM subsidiary Cadillac plans to deliver an AR heads-up display in the Escalade 2021.
# 3 – Mojo Vision ($ 51 million)
Based on its smart contact lens prototype, Mojo Vision has raised an additional $ 51 million. The startup has raised $ 159 million to date, including the Series B round of $ 58 million in 2019 and Series A round of $ 50 million in 2018. While we haven’t seen the experience firsthand, Google’s Gradient Ventures to the notable investors backed Mojo Vision, making the technology credible.
# 2 – Magic Leap ($ 350 million)
It’s been a tumultuous year for Magic Leap. It began with the company signing its patent portfolio to JP Morgan Chase as collateral for loans, culminating in layoffs, rumors of a possible sale, and ended with the resignation of CEO Rony Abovitz. However, the company turned to entrepreneurship, and the appointment of Peggy Johnson as CEO seems to be enough to convince investors to reinvest as Magic Leap has reportedly raised a $ 350 million Series E round.
# 1 – Epic Games ($ 1.78 Billion)
Sure enough, this massive funding round is based more on Epic’s success with Fortnite and its gaming business. However, Unreal Engine ranks alongside Unity among the best 3D engines for creating augmented reality experiences. That’s why Adobe, Apple, Facebook, and Snap are eager to provide their own tools when creating AR.
Honorable Mentions: Investors are eager to hit on potential hits in smart glasses and AR headsets early, with Vuzix, Tilt Five, C-Real, Micledi, DigiLens and Dimension NXG among the beneficiaries. Consumer-centric app makers Fabric and Krikey also piqued investor interest in their respective offerings.