Taking a Gamble on Mixed Reality
Zappar is developing a Mixed Reality sports data visualisation tool with a major European gambling brand.
There are plenty of compelling business use cases for the use of immersive technologies across the spectrum. From training Astronauts and surgeons to enabling radical savings and industry efficiencies — be it in construction, cleaning or retail.
But we’re still waiting for things to take off properly in the consumer market, of course. Part of that might be waiting for a critical mass of compelling content to build up, but it also comes down to hardware affordability and ease of use, especially where Mixed Reality is concerned.
Just over a year ago British start-up Zappar set out to fix half of that problem, by launching an ambitious crowdfunding campaign to fund its ZapBox — a sort of Google Cardboard equivalent for Mixed Reality costing $30. The campaign quickly smashed its target raising $84,356 from 1,854 backers.
One of the highest level pledges in that campaign came from Kindred Futures — Kindred Group’s arm dedicated to supporting early stage businesses. Zappar has since gone on to raise a series A investment round just shy of $4 million, proving that many tech companies these days now use crowdfunding as more of a marketing and PR tool for community building and attracting investor’s attention than for raising funds per se.
Zappar has in fact already carved a healthy niche for itself in the Augmented Reality space, specializing in AR-enabled products and infotainment experiences, working with brands, license partners and retailers such as Rovio, Shazam, Warner Bros, Hasbro, PEZ and Universal Pictures as well as several sports teams such as Manchester City Football Club, Sacramento Kings, and the Minnesota Vikings. But it believes that the future lies with affordable Mixed Reality.
“The main barrier of getting Mixed Reality to the mass market is the cost of new hardware,” says Jeremy Yates from Zappar. There’s an exciting future of data visualisation, with mixed reality providing an immersive and engaging way to both view and interact with information. This exploration is all part of our goal of democratising this technology.”
The two companies are now looking to solve the other half of that consumer Mixed Reality puzzle by looking at the impact of content, particularly in relation to the gambling industry. Their partnership is proposing to use MR to analyse sports data and, more specifically, to understand how the technology will change the way consumers interact with that sporting data. According to their announcement:
“Together, Kindred Futures and Zappar are exploring the way sports are watched and data is consumed by building prototypes based on high profile sporting matches such as the 2017 Champions League final and T20 cricket between South Africa and England.”
Where viewers are currently at the whim of broadcasters or have to trawl through tables of data to help make their sporting decisions, Zappar gives users control in an immersive experience where they can explore the team’s players, with insights into their goals, shots or runs — putting the user at the heart of the data. The two demos, powered by data from sports analytics company Opta, look to give an insight into what the future holds for interacting with sports data, with the user interacting with an extra layer of information on top of reality.
“This exploration with Zappar allows punters to discover and interact with data like never before — leveraging Opta data to provide insights that can help them make more informed decisions,” says Will Mace, Head of Kindred Futures. “We’re very passionate about ensuring that audiences are given enough data to make sensible gaming decisions and think that our experiment with Zappar is an exciting step in the right direction.”
With Microsoft still very much focusing on the enterprise market — the HoloLens sells at 100 times the ZapBox price point — and the Magic Leap One Creator Edition only due to ship “sometime in 2018” and unlikely to come cheap, it seems there’s still plenty of room for players looking to move into the Mixed Reality consumer space.
And let’s not forget that traditionally gambling (and porn) content are major drivers for consumer adoption of any new technology, as the Internet has taught us, so this could very well prove to be an interesting move.
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Alice Bonasio is a VR Consultant and Tech Trends’ Editor in Chief. She also regularly writes for Fast Company, Ars Technica, Quartz, Wired and others. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow @alicebonasio on Twitter.
Originally published at Tech Trends.