Category: Augmented Reality

May 9, 2019 Off

With new raise, Unity could nearly double valuation to $6 billion

By Jill T Frey

Unity Technologies, the company behind one of the world’s most popular game engines, could nearly double its reported valuation in a new round of funding.

The company has filed to raise up to $125 million in Series E funding according to a Delaware stock authorization filing uncovered by Prime Unicorn Index and reviewed by TechCrunch. If Unity closes the full authorized raise it will hold a valuation of $5.96 billion.

A Unity spokesperson confirmed the details of the document.

The SF company builds developer tools that allow game-makers to build titles and deploy them on consoles, mobile and PC. More than half of all new games are built using the platform. Customers pay for the platform per developer once their projects reach a certain scale.

Unity’s competitors include Fortnite-maker Epic Games, which has been able to rapidly acquire startups and game studios in the past two years fueled by the … Read the rest

May 9, 2019 Off

‘Weird Cuts’ is Google’s new AR experiment that lets you cut out pieces of reality to make collages

By Jill T Frey

In addition to preserving art and historic landmarks around the world, Google’s Arts & Culture division also likes to collaborate with artists to experiment with integrations between technology and art. The latest of these efforts, a new AR app called “Weird Cuts,” was formally introduced this evening at the Google I/O developer conference. The concept for the app was created by artists Zach Lieberman and Molmol Kuo, and was developed with the support of Google Arts & Culture. And it’s definitely an odd (but also fun) tool for playing around with augmented reality — without having any sort of real intention in mind beyond “making weird AR collages.”

Experiments like this, though seemingly lighthearted, are important in terms of getting a better understanding of a new technology, and how people want to interact with it. Today, many AR apps are built for specific purposes — like placing furniture in … Read the rest

May 2, 2019 Off

Microsoft announces the $3,500 HoloLens 2 Development Edition

By Jill T Frey

As part of its rather odd Thursday afternoon pre-Build news dump, Microsoft today announced the HoloLens 2 Development Edition. The company announced the much-improved HoloLens 2 at MWC Barcelona earlier this year, but it’s not shipping to developers yet. Currently, the best release date we have is “later this year.” The Development Edition will launch alongside the regular HoloLens 2.

The Development Edition, which will retail for $3,500 to own outright or on a $99 per month installment plan, doesn’t feature any special hardware. Instead, it comes with $500 in Azure credits and three-month trials of Unity Pro and the Unity PiXYZ plugin for bringing engineering renderings into Unity.

To get the Development Edition, potential buyers have to join the Microsoft Mixed Reality Developer Program and those who already pre-ordered the standard edition will be able to change their order later this year.

As far as HoloLens news goes, that’s … Read the rest

May 2, 2019 Off

Microsoft brings Azure SQL Database to the edge (and Arm)

By Jill T Frey

Microsoft today announced an interesting update to its database lineup with the preview of Azure SQL Database Edge, a new tool that brings the same database engine that powers Azure SQL Database in the cloud to edge computing devices, including, for the first time, Arm-based machines.

Azure SQL Edge, Azure corporate vice president Julia White writes in today’s announcement, “brings to the edge the same performant, secure and easy to manage SQL engine that our customers love in Azure SQL Database and SQL Server.”

The new service, which will also run on x64-based devices and edge gateways, promises to bring low-latency analytics to edge devices as it allows users to work with streaming data and time-series data, combined with the built-in machine learning capabilities of Azure SQL Database. Like its larger brethren, Azure SQL Database Edge will also support graph data and comes with the same security and encryption features … Read the rest

May 2, 2019 Off

Takeaways from F8 and Facebook’s next phase

By Jill T Frey

Extra Crunch offers members the opportunity to tune into conference calls led and moderated by the TechCrunch writers you read every day. This week, TechCrunch’s Josh Constine and Frederic Lardinois discuss major announcements that came out of Facebook’s F8 conference and dig into how Facebook is trying to redefine itself for the future.

Though touted as a developer-focused conference, Facebook spent much of F8 discussing privacy upgrades, how the company is improving its social impact, and a series of new initiatives on the consumer and enterprise side. Josh and Frederic discuss which announcements seem to make the most strategic sense, and which may create attractive (or unattractive) opportunities for new startups and investment.

“This F8 was aspirational for Facebook. Instead of being about what Facebook is, and accelerating the growth of it, this F8 was about Facebook, and what Facebook wants to be in the future.

That’s not the newsfeed,

Read the rest
May 2, 2019 Off

Africa Roundup: Jumia’s IPO, DHL launches Africa e-Shop, Cathay’s $168M VC fund, ConnectMed acquired

By Jill T Frey

The biggest news in a month of weighty African headlines was Jumia listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

After filing SEC IPO docs in March, the Pan-African e-commerce company’s shares began trading on the NYSE April 12, opening at $14.50 under ticker symbol JMIA. Jumia stock rose north of 70 percent on its first day of trading and started this week at $46.

With the public listing, Jumia became the first startup from Africa to list on a major global exchange. The IPO raised over $200 million for the internet venture.

The listing created another milestone for Jumia.  In 2016 the company became the first African startup unicorn, achieving a $1 billion valuation after a funding round that included Goldman Sachs and MTN.

Founded in Lagos in 2012 with Rocket Internet backing, Jumia now operates multiple online verticals in 14 African countries—from consumer retail to travel bookings.… Read the rest

May 1, 2019 Off

Nine lessons on how Niantic reached a $4B valuation

By Jill T Frey

We’ve captured much of Niantic’s ongoing story in the first three parts of our EC-1, from its beginnings as an “entrepreneurial lab” within Google, to its spin-out as an independent company and the launch of Pokémon GO, to its ongoing focus on becoming a platform for others to build augmented reality products upon.

It’s not an origin story that serves as an easily replicable blueprint — but if we zoom out a bit, what’s to be learned?

A few key themes stuck with me as I researched Niantic’s story so far. Some of them – like the challenges involved with moving millions of users around the real world – are unique to this new augmented reality that Niantic is helping to create. Others – like that scaling is damned hard – are well-understood startup norms, but interesting to see from the perspective of an … Read the rest

April 26, 2019 Off

Why are people still giving Magic Leap money?

By Jill T Frey

If Magic Leap fails, the skeptics will at least have to admire the AR startup’s keen ability to raise vast amounts of capital.

The company announced today that it has locked down another $280 million in a deal with Japan’s largest mobile operator, Docomo. The deal brings the company’s ever-swelling total cash raised to $2.6 billion. The deal follows an investment from AT&T last year also focused on the company’s cloud ambitions.

“DOCOMO aims to co-create advanced MR services and expand the XR market by leveraging open innovation and combining innovative technologies such as Spatial Computing provided by Magic Leap with DOCOMO’s assets including our 5G network and 70 million membership base,” Docomo CEO Kazuhiro Yoshizawa said in a press release.

This new money arrives as the company devotes more attention to the “Magicverse,” its plan for a spatially mapped digital infrastructure layer that can be a foundational step for … Read the rest