AR companies have grown 50% since the end of 2017

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The augmented reality ecosystem continued to grow in the first half of 2018, with the number of AR companies growing 50 percent to 290 since the end of 2017, according to investor The Venture Reality Fund.

Propped up by Magic Leap’s impressive and almost crazy ability to raise money, the AR market has continued to prosper from steady new investment. But Tipatat Chennavasin, general partner at The VR Fund, said in an interview with GamesBeat that investment activity grew across all sectors of the AR landscape in the first half, even if you factor out Magic Leap’s ability to raise so much money.

A year ago, The VR Fund was tracking 150 AR companies, and that number grew to about 200 by the end of 2017. Those companies are developing infrastructure, tools, platforms, applications, and content for the AR ecosystem, and Chennavasin said the sector remains healthy on a global basis.

“The 50 percent growth refers to the number of companies, not only among startups getting investments, but large companies entering the market,” he said.

He also said that virtual reality, which has struggled to gain a consumer audience, continues to get investments, as well. So far this year, the AR and VR companies have raised more than $1 billion, Chennavasin said.

“And with major companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, and Snap leading the charge for mobile AR, developers and investors have taken notice,” he said.

The first half 2018 reveals the most substantial growth in apps and content targeting mobile phone-based AR platforms from Apple and Google. The mobile AR ecosystem has seen more than 13 million app downloads, but not much consumer success yet beyond Pokémon Go and potentially Jurassic World AlivePokémon Go has generated $1.8 billion in two years.

“Those outliers are strong, but we have not seen major successes yet,” Chennavasin said. “Social AR is doing well, like on platforms like Snap.”

Chennavasin believes significant investment in infrastructure technology, like AR cloud technology, has been about unlocking those richer social experiences.

The VR Fund evaluated more than 4,000 companies, and those selected in its visual landscape meet a certain criteria of funding, revenue, mainstream coverage, and/or major partnerships.

The fund found that the majority of growth was in consumer apps for mobile AR, but there was notable growth in all categories — such as AR smart glasses, 3D tools, and SDKs, enterprise applications, and display components for AR head-mounted displays.

Major technology companies are releasing tools to help developers and designers build richer mobile AR experiences. In addition to Apple and Google, startups like Blue Vision Labs, 6D.ai, and Niantic are releasing AR cloud software development kits (SDKs) that allow for social AR experiences.

Before raising an undisclosed amount of money from AT&T on Wednesday, Florida-based Magic Leap, which is creating the Magic Leap One AR glasses, had raised $2.3 billion. But even if you factor that out, Chennavasin said that investments in AR have held steady in the hundreds of millions of dollars, which is why the number of companies in the ecosystem continues to expand.

Joining Snap and Facebook, Amazon, Adobe, and Unity 3D have unveiled creative tools for mobile AR.

On top of that, acquisitions of AR technology companies by non-technology companies such as Williams Sonoma and L’Oréal show how broadly AR is expected impact industries like ecommerce.

Social AR is becoming a big category with heavy usage. Major social apps like Snap, Facebook, Instagram, Apple Messages, and Snow all support AR features. Last year, Snap reported that nearly 70 million users spend an average of three minutes a day with their AR “Lenses.”

For mixed reality HMDs, the Magic Leap developer kits are now in the hands of certain developers, and the next version of the Microsoft HoloLens developer kit is rumored to launch in early 2019. There still is no announcement as to when any consumer MR HMD will ship.

Conventional wisdom says that VR investment is dropping because of slow consumer sales, and AR is rising. But Chennavasin said VR continues to be strong, as evidenced by ongoing investments — like Penrose Studios raising $10 million — and big companies continuing to support VR.

Dean Takahashi

https://venturebeat.com/2018/07/12/ar-companies-have-grown-50-since-the-end-of-2017/amp/

 

Lumina Networks raises $10 million from Investors

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Lumina Networks said it raised $10 million of Series A financing from investors including Verizon Ventures, AT&T and Rahi Systems.

Press release:

Lumina Networks Closes $10 Million Series A Financing

Fast-growing open source networking company will use funds for new products and geographic expansion

SAN JOSE, Calif. – May 24, 2018 – Open source networking company, Lumina Networks, today announced the closing of its $10 million Series A financing, including $8 million in new funding led by Verizon Ventures. Other new investors included AT&T and Rahi Systems.

Operating independently, following a spin-off from Brocade in August 2017, Lumina Networks will use the funds to support the development of new products and innovative solutions using the Lumina SDN Controller powered by OpenDaylight™ and for expansion of business in Europe and Japan.

“This investment by both Verizon and AT&T demonstrates the strategic importance of open source networking to the automation and digitization of their networks,” said Andrew Coward, Founder and CEO of Lumina Networks. “We understand the value of our mission to take open source networking out of the labs of our customers and into production deployment. This funding will enable us to reach a wider customer base and realize the industry vision of easily deployable open source software-defined networking (SDN).”

The investment follows strong take-up of the Lumina SDN Controller by network operators in the first nine months of operations, with revenues more than double their pre-spin-off Brocade levels.

“SDN has emerged as a key architectural model in delivering the promised goals of next generation wireless networks such as 5G by enabling high speeds and low latency at lower cost points,” said Alexander Khalin, Director at Verizon Ventures. “Open source is instrumental to Verizon’s digital transformation, and the team at Lumina Networks has built world-class, carrier grade products and solutions in this space and truly understands how to effectively work with network operators on their transformational journey. We look forward to their continued success in this field.”

“SDN is at the heart of our network transformation, and we’ve committed to virtualizing and software-controlling 75% of our core network functions by 2020,” said Chris Rice, Senior Vice President, AT&T Labs, Domain 2.0 Architecture and Design. “Lumina’s leadership and work in OpenDaylight is important to creating a scalable software-defined network. Their open source business model is what our industry is moving to. Much of our future network will be powered by open source software, such as our white box initiative, and we’re excited to help drive innovation and collaboration in this space.”

“Lumina presents a hardware agnostic approach of bringing virtualization and control semantics to the Network. Lumina’s leadership brings strong expertise with a software defined approach for complex services provider (network, cloud & web) and enterprise networks,” said Tarun Raisoni, CEO at Rahi Systems.

About Lumina Networks

Lumina Networks believes the future is open software networks where service providers are in control of their development. Lumina is the catalyst that brings open software networking out of the lab and into the live network. We develop open source platforms and provide NetDev Services to jointly deliver production systems and to transfer know-how in Agile Software Development methods.

About Verizon Ventures

Verizon Ventures is the corporate venture capital unit of Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, NASDAQ: VZ) and invests in promising entrepreneurial companies that are tackling some of today’s biggest technology challenges. With a collaborative approach to commercialization, Verizon Ventures is focused on helping companies connect financial resources with strategic, non-investment business functions necessary to deliver successful outcomes. Verizon Ventures partners with companies to help them scale substantively to impact society and lead to new markets. Over the last decade, Verizon Ventures has invested in more than 50 companies covering a range of industries and technologies. For more information, visit www.verizonventures.com and follow @verizonventures.

https://www.pehub.com/2018/05/lumina-networks-raises-10-mln-investors-including-verizon-ventures-att-rahi-systems/

SKYDIO R1 AUTONOMOUS DRONE REVIEW: CRUISE CONTROL

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The world’s first fully autonomous consumer drone is a peek at the future of robotic aviation

 

By Nick Statt@nickstatt  Apr 5, 2018, 9:00am EDT

Photography by Vjeran Pavic

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The purpose of a consumer drone remains nebulous these days. Depending on who you ask, you’ll get a different answer. Drones are great for sophisticated aerial photography and video, but they’re also adept at surveying empty lots of land and crowded real estate, or measuring agricultural yield and helping climate model the Arctic. But what’s the point of a drone for the everyday consumer, for you or me? That’s not readily apparent. Even as drones get more sophisticated, cheaper, and smaller, there isn’t an easy answer beyond the fact that unmanned aerial vehicles are cool gadgets and fun to fly — granted, where and when the Federal Aviation Administration deems it legal to do so.

But what if a drone was smart enough to handle itself, in any and all situations? What if the drone didn’t need to be flown at all, because software did it for you? What you might do with a drone of that caliber is up to you, but the possibilities are indeed tantalizing. And that’s the pitch from Skydio, a Mountain View, California-based startup that sells arguably the world’s first fully autonomous consumer drone. Called the R1 and announced back in February, the $2,500 device uses a blend of cameras, sensors, and a powerful Nvidia-made onboard computer — the very same chip set that powers self-driving cars — to map its surroundings, plan and predict its flight path, and avoid all manner of obstacles as it tracks a single human subject.

The company hopes its drone, and the sophisticated artificial intelligence that pilots it, will reframe the question of “why buy such a device?” into “what can this device do for me?” Do you like running, cycling, or action sports like skateboarding? Do you want to capture yourself performing those activities in almost any environment, and with a variety of professional-looking camera angles? Skydio thinks that a mix of eager drone-loving early adopters and action sports junkies will buy into that vision right now, even at the steep price of $2,500. But down the line, the company hopes the computer vision software that powers its autonomous algorithms can be packed into drones that are far more accessible.

To read the full article:

https://www.theverge.com/2018/4/5/17195622/skydio-r1-review-autonomous-drone-ai-autopilot-dji-competitor

Video Link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZv7dWYjq_Q&feature=youtu.be

 

GCG supports DACA

GCG proudly joins nearly 800 entrepreneurs and business leaders from across the country by signing an open letter calling on Congress to immediately pass the bipartisan Dream Act or legislation that provides Dreamers raised in our country the permanent solution they deserve.  

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 20, 2017

Contact: press@fwd.us

NEW: Growing List of Now Nearly 800 Business Leaders from Every Sector of the Economy Call On Congress to Protect Dreamers

Number of Business Leader Signatories More Than Doubles Since Initial Letter Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, nearly 800 entrepreneurs and business leaders from across the country and representing every major sector of the economy released an open letter calling on Congress to pass the bipartisan Dream Act or a permanent a legislative solution that provides Dreamers raised in our country the solution they deserve. Businesses leaders from manufacturing, retail, agriculture, technology, financial services, entertainment, health care, energy and utilities, and every major sector of the economy signed the letter urging Congress to act on this urgent issue.

The first letter was released with just over 350 signatures, and now the combined list of unique signatories between the two letters has reached nearly 800 - more than double the original - as momentum grows for Congress to bring a Dream Act or a permanent legislative solution that Dreamers deserve to a vote.

The letter and current signatory list can be found here. The letter will remain open and those who wish to sign in the future can do so here.

About Source: FWD.us is a bipartisan organization started by key leaders in the tech and business community to promote policies to keep the United States competitive in a global economy, starting with commonsense immigration reform and criminal justice reform.

A startup created by ex-Google engineers is raising $40 million to make drones that fly themselves

http://www.businessinsider.com/skydio-raising-roughly-40-million-series-b-to-make-ai-powered-autonomous-drone-2017-8

Skydio is building "the world’s most advanced autonomous flying camera," according to job listings. Screenshot/Skydio

A three-year-old startup created by ex-Google engineers is raising approximately $40 million in venture funding to make the world's most advanced consumer drone, Business Insider has learned.

Skydio is looking to raise roughly $40 million for its Series B round at a pre-money valuation of around $180 million, according to people familiar with the matter. The drone maker has already raised $28 million to date and is backed by Andreessen Horowitz, Accel, and others.

Skydio CEO Adam Bry confirmed that the company is raising money in an email to Business Insider on Monday but declined to comment further.

Skydio was Founded by three MIT graduates who set out in 2014 to create an AI-powered drone capable of flying itself without the complexity of current drone controls. CEO Bry and CTO Abraham Bachrach were also early engineers at Project Wing, Google's drone delivery effort.

Skydio has yet to publicly debut its drone, but people who have seen prototypes say that it uses an array of cameras and proprietary computer vision technology to recognize and avoid objects in real time. While Skydio's near-term goal is to sell its own drone, it could potentially license its underlying technology to other drone makers as well.

"Current drones are cool gadgets for enthusiasts but still a curiosity to mainstream consumers," the company wrote in a November 2016 blog post. "Our belief is that advanced onboard computer vision and artificial intelligence, combined with world class hardware product design, will yield a breakthrough that makes drones a trusted part of our daily lives.”

Early 2015 demos of Skydio included a "Magic Wand" feature that let people control a drone by waving a paired iPhone around with their hands. Skydio has since published a couple of teaser videos that show its technology in action. One video from last year shows a drone seamlessly avoiding trees it encounters while following bikers through a park trail.

At MIT Tech Review's conference in March, Bry said that Skydio planned to launch its first drone this year.

Skydio's additional funding comes as the drone market is exploding, with the Consumer Technology Association estimating that 2017 drone sales will top $1 billion in the US for the first time. China-based DJI is considered the leader in the current drone market, and larger tech companies like Snap Inc. have recently expressed serious interest in developing their own drones as well.

Skydio has suffered a couple of key staff departures in the last year, with chief scientist Frank Dellaert and VP of hardware Stephen McClure joining Facebook's consumer hardware division, Building 8. The startup has a number of open positions on its website, including an aerospace design engineer, global supply chain manager, and iOS developer.

By Alex Heath

http://www.businessinsider.com/author/alex-heath

Client Updates - BGV's 3rd Fund and InfoScout's Exit

Two exciting updates this week from our clients - BGV has closed on their third fund with $80M in funding. Good work team!

http://benhamouglobalventures.com/2017/06/28/bgv-closes-third-fund-makes-new-investments/

Also, Infoscout has been acquired - a huge win for the team and investors.  Read more about the journey here:

http://blog.infoscout.co/infoscouts-journey-from-founding-to-funding-to-acquisition/

Congratulations to both teams!