Recapping the top stories covered on the VRScout Report, a weekly podcast discussing the best in VR, hosted by Malia Probst. Snapchat AR, Hulu VR with friends, Zuck, Valve, as well as the investment and funding wrapup, plus much more…
1. SNAPCHAT PREPARES FOR EVEN MORE AUGMENTED REALITY FEATURES
Snapchat’s World Lenses currently overlay graphics like falling leaves or stars onto your real-world environment using your phone’s rear-facing camera. Snap, Inc. is about to roll out more robust augmentation to the World Lenses feature which will allow you to overlay images onto particular objects in the real world like buildings or cars. Although the timeline on the public release is unknown (they are currently in internal advanced testing), these features could be an ideal fit for brands looking for AR advertising options… which is a huge priority for the pre-IPO company.
2. HULU WITH YOUR FRIENDS IN VIRTUAL REALITY
Oculus recently integrated your Facebook profile with your Oculus profile so that you can meet up with your real world friends and hang out in Oculus Rooms, which look like beautiful floating islands in the virtual sky. In Rooms, you’re already able to launch multiplayer apps with your friends and now Hulu is helping get the virtual party started. You can watch the whole catalog of Hulu’s regular content (yes, a subscription is required) or check out Hulu’s 360 content (which you can access for free)… while talking and hanging out with your friends!
3. THE ZUCK TALKS TO INVESTORS AND PLAYS WITH FACEBOOK VR/AR GLOVES
On a recent earnings call, Mark Zuckerberg reminded investors that immersive technology is a long-term bet (restating his prediction of 10 years for widespread adoption), and asked for “patience from the investor community” on a return on their investment. Disappointingly, he did not disclose any sales numbers for the Oculus Rift– instead taking the chance to remind Facebook’s investors that the Oculus-supported Samsung Gear VR has now sold 5M+ units. Days later, Zuckerberg swung by a Facebook research lab in Redmond, WA to play with VR/AR gloves in development. Posting photos of himself playing with the glove prototype on Facebook (where else?), saying he was shooting webs like Spider-Man, Zuckerberg also reiterated that his goal is to “make VR and AR what we all want it to be: glasses small enough to take anywhere, software that lets you experience anything, and technology that that lets you interact with the virtual world just like you do with the physical one.”
4. NEW CONTROLLERS & NEW GAMES ON HORIZON FOR HTC VIVE AND VALVE
The founder of Valve, Gabe Newell (known as “Lord Gaben” to some), recently teased us with the promise that Valve is developing three VR games— and designing new hardware at the same time. Saying that gaming has been dependent on the same ol’ controllers and joysticks for a long time, Newell is clearly excited about the emerging opportunities for dynamic interaction in VR. Will we be seeing some games developed specifically for the upcoming HTC Vive “knuckle controllers”?
5. INVESTMENT & FUNDING WRAPUP
As we reported last week, Austin, Texas-based VR ad company SubVRsive received investment by ad giant WPP (as sidenote, WPP also partnered with IMAX to create a $50M fund for VR/AR investment). At first, it was reported that they were not disclosing the amount of funding as well as calling it a seed round. Now, it has been revealed that SubVRsive’s funding from WPP is a $4M investment and called a Series A. Another intersting bit of information: SubVRsive’s new CEO is ex-senior vice president of Hulu.
The Japanese mobile game giant COLOPL has been investing in VR/AR for the past couple of years, and just announced plans to dive even deeper into the industry. Earmarking $50M to the COLOPL VR Fund 2, they will “actively invest” in HMDs, VR content, development tools and equipment, distribution platforms, and input devices. The COLOPL VR Fund 2 is a new, separate fund that stands next to the $50M COLOPL VR Fund that was established in December of 2015– bringing COLOPL’s investing potential to $100M.