We explore the AR startups and studios you need to know about

AR Week: Focus your gaze away from the bigger companies
Upcoming AR startups and studios

With the big hitters beginning to make some noise within AR, it can be easy to gloss over the startups and studios working behind the scenes and assisting the action.

While Microsoft Hololens continues to expand its reach, Apple begins its journey into the space with ARKit and many more heavily backed projects rush to put hardware into users' hands, a smorgasbord of smaller companies contribute to the big picture are pushing the platform into different directions.

Read this: Future of AR predictions

But who are some of the smaller players worth knowing about? Well, we spoke to a few to get a grip on the current state of play, what's coming next and where the industry is leaning.

WaveOptics

Startup WaveOptics is concerned with building the next-generation of display technology for head-worn AR — specifically involving the manipulation of light at the nanoscale (i.e. involving dimensions of less than 100 nanometres).

Currently, the team is working on the production of its colour, 40-degree diagonal field of view waveguide display, as well as the associated optical module which helps provide a plug and play solution for AR headsets. This, of course, alongside the long-term work of testing different materials for displays and developing stronger waveguides across higher fields of view.

But what sets WaveOptics apart? Well, while WaveOptics' Dion Price told Wareable that solving the display element of AR is an industry-wide challenge, he also indicated that the company believes it's already able to offer solid visual performance, a compact form factor and an inexpensive way to manufacture.

We look forward to seeing how the startup can apply this trifecta to mass market products beginning next year.

SubVRsive

AR startups and studios you need to know about

Don't let the name fool you, SubVRsive is also venturing in the augmented realm. Already partnering with directors, developers and the likes of Lionsgate Entertainment and Showtime, the startup has recently announced the launch of XR Labs - a studio focused on innovation within the platform and a place for its members to experiment and develop personal projects.

Speaking to Wareable, SubVRsive CEO Johannes Larcher said: "Because AR is a mixed reality experience, rather than totally immersive, it has the ability to work its way into every aspect of our lives, from morning to night.

"And with seemingly endless applications – from gaming and entertainment, to e-commerce and web browsing, to everyday voice calls – it has the potential to become as common a technology as mobile phones."

And while it currently has a focus on applications involving entertainment, Larcher also described how SubVRsive will aim to span beyond and solve real world problems through AR.

Virtual Arts

AR startups and studios you need to know about

While also working in the fields of virtual and mixed reality, Virtual Arts' augmented sector focuses on creating high-fidelity experiences and technology — currently for mobile devices.

The design team features talent from Sony's now-closed Guerrilla Cambridge studio, with current work aiming to build a platform that's accessible for entry-level devices to take on the world of AR gaming, animations and interactive experiences.

Virtual Arts' Ryan Booth noted that the company is also working with a number of partners across AR and MR as it finalises its technology, while also suggesting that the future of AR/VR/MR will see experiences merging and allowing users to switch between.

FITAR

AR startups and studios you need to know about

While FITAR's current focus is within virtual reality, it plans to make the leap to AR in order to create more immersive fitness experiences.

Wareable recently spoke with Sam Cole, co-founder at FITAR, who explained that it's keeping one eye on big companies like Magic Leap and Microsoft while working towards its ultimate goal within AR.

"You've got the potential of the lightweight headsets, it's not entirely immersive, so you are still in touch with your surroundings. We still believe [AR] will revolutionise fitness," he told us. "Once we dug a lot deeper into the technology, we like many other companies are using VR as a gateway into AR. The AR tech and headsets are less mature than VR."

Everysight

AR startups and studios you need to know about

After initially teasing its Raptor AR smartglasses last year, Everysight is now gearing up to launch its cyclists and triathletes-focused specs.

Through the company's patented BEAM technology, users are able to train with the transparent overlay which can project high-resolution information such as turn-by-turn navigation, time, distance, speed, heart rate, cadence and power, while reducing eyestrain and keeping a rider's vision clear.

One of the things the Raptor does really well is that your vision doesn't feel limited. In our time with the Raptor, we were able to not only easily see its augmented reality display easily in sunny conditions, but we had a good view of all our surroundings at the same time, which is essential for a cyclist barreling down trails at high speeds.

The glasses' price and availability isn't yet announced, but is expected to land soon given that the final development stages are now complete.


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