Mobile Drives AR Market Says The Venture Reality Fund’s Tipatat Chennavasin

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, or AR and VR, have been some of the biggest buzzwords coming out of the tech industry lately. The thought of transporting ourselves to a different reality, or bringing pieces of another reality into our own, offers exciting gaming and business opportunities for companies of all sizes. However, despite the strong support for AR from massive companies like Facebook, Snap and Microsoft, experts say VR is the medium that offers the biggest potential growth.

Tipatat Chennavasin is co-founder and general partner at The Venture Reality Fund, a venture capital firm that invests in early-stage VR, AR and MR startups that encompass a variety of industries. Chennavasin spoke to Newsweek about the rise of AR apps and games, and the future of the technology.

According to Chennavasin, the two biggest drivers in the AR market come from Apple’s ARKit and Android’s ARCore platforms. These make it easier to incorporate mobile AR tech into new apps and games. “ARCore and ARKit made it so not just small start-ups, but large companies are also really focusing on AR, especially with ecommerce,” Chennavasin said. “IKEA, Lowe’s, Williams and Sonoma, Wayfair, makeup companies like L'Oreal, they’ve all been doing things with VR and AR.”

Large, established brands are attracted to AR because most consumers already have a compatible device in their pocket. “Mobile AR is an extension of the mobile platform, not a platform shift like what VR represents. Right now in mobile, unless you have a million dollars in marketing spend, it’s hard to get your game out there,” said Chennavasin. “Every mobile developer has to connect with a big IP or have money to spend. On VR, it’s a totally different ballgame. Everyone is on pretty even footing. And there aren’t a thousand apps released every day.”

While Chennavasin is confident new tools will allow for more sophisticated mobile AR experiences, he ultimately thinks the future of AR will look something like what we’ve already seen in the past: head-mounted units similar to the Google Glass.

“We’ll look back at Google Glass how people look back at the Newton or the Palm Pilot,” Chennavasin predicted. “That was a precursor to something much bigger.”

While more established companies continue to drive the mobile AR market, the VR market is like the Wild West. Success can come to teams both big and small, with the most recent big name coming from Beat Saber, a game developed for Oculus and HTC devices by a small team downloaded more than 100,000 times within a month of launch. “Yeah, you have Bethesda and Ubisoft toe-dipping, but little teams are doing very well and standing toe-to-toe or having more success than the bigger players,” Chennavasin observed.

The platform shift VR represents allows new companies to become major players. “I think it’ll be widespread adoption of hardware to get the large players into the VR scene,” he said. “Look at mobile, a lot of the large players weren’t looking until after, and that’s why they were able to get huge companies like Rovio and Supercell.”

To those who say “VR has failed,” Chennavasin would argue the industry is still in its infancy. VR and AR will become more and more advanced, but isn’t going to happen overnight. He stressed that people should know the technology continues to be refined and perfected, with research and development going into creating better and more immersive hardware.

“There still is interest in both AR and VR. We’re still very much in the early stages, and are expecting this to grow and continue to grow at an even bigger rate,” said Chennavasin.

So what do you think? Are you excited to see what’s next for AR and VR tech? Have you tried it for yourself, or are you waiting until hardware improves? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.