Augmented Reality: Next Big Startup Niche?
Augmented reality has yet to prove its worth. Google Glass is no longer for sale, undergoing a redesign and rebranding under the demanding eye of Nest CEO Tony Fadell; Microsoft’s HoloLens might not hit the market for another year. But the nascent and unproven state of the technology hasn’t dissuaded some startups from exploring niche uses for it. Case in point: the Senth IN1, a pair of augmented-reality cycling glasses that overlay data such as speed, distance, and burned calories on the bicyclist’s view. Other functions include selecting music, making phone calls, and detecting dangers such as cars and pedestrians. Currently racking up funds on Indiegogo, the project could hit the market as soon as January 2016. According to TechCrunch, other startups are getting into the augmented-reality game. The Recon Jet, built for sports enthusiasts, captures point-of-view video via a camera attached to the glasses’ right lens; its built-in screen can display information about distance, pace, and more. AngelList currently lists 335 startups exploring some application of augmented reality (average valuation: $3.9 million), powered by 2,727 investors. Pitches range from “online fitting room for eyewear” to “sales platforms for real estate.” While not all those companies will survive, their presence suggests that augmented reality is still very much in the Wild West mode of its evolution—an exciting time for anyone with an idea for the technology.