Another high-flying, heavily funded AR headset startup is shutting down – gpgmail


While Apple and Microsoft strain to sell augmented reality as the next major computing platform, many of the startups aiming to beat them to the punch are crashing and burning.

Daqri, which built enterprise-grade AR headsets, has shuttered its HQ, laid off many of its employees and is selling off assets ahead of a shutdown, former employees and sources close to the company tell gpgmail.

In an email obtained by gpgmail, the nearly 10-year-old company told its customers that it was pursuing an asset sale and was shutting down its cloud and smart-glasses hardware platforms by the end of September.

“I think the large majority of people who worked [at Daqri] are sad to see it closing down,” a former employee told gpgmail. “[I] wish the end result was different.”

The company’s 18,000+ square foot Los Angeles headquarters (above) is currently listed as “available” by real estate firm Newmark Knight Frank. The company’s Sunnyvale offices appear to have been shuttered sometime prior to 2019.

Daqri’s shutdown is only the latest among heavily funded augmented reality startups seeking to court enterprise customers.

Earlier this year, Osterhout Design Group unloaded its AR glasses patents after acquisition talks with Magic Leap, Facebook and others stalled. Meta, an AR headset startup that raised $73 million from VCs including Tencent, also sold its assets earlier this year after the company ran out of cash.

Daqri faced substantial challenges from competing headset makers, including Magic Leap and Microsoft, who were backed by more expansive war chests and institutional partnerships. While the headset company struggled to compete for enterprise customers, Daqri benefitted from investor excitement surrounding the broader space. That is, until the investment climate for AR startups cooled.

Daqri was, at one point, speaking with a large private-equity firm about financing ahead of a potential IPO, but as the technical realities facing other AR companies came to light, the firm backed out and the deal crumbled, we are told.

As of mid-2017, a Wall Street Journal report detailed that Daqri had raised $275 million in funding. You won’t find many details on the sources of that funding, other than references to Tarsadia Investments, a private-equity firm in Los Angeles that took part in the company’s sole disclosed funding round. We’re told Tarsadia had taken controlling ownership of the firm after subsequent investments.

In early 2016, Daqri acquired Two Trees Photonics, a small UK startup that was building holographic display technologies for automotive customers. The UK division soon comprised a substantial portion of the entire company’s revenues, sources tell us. By early 2018, the division was spun out from Daqri as a separate company called Envisics, leaving the Daqri team to focus wholly on bringing augmented reality to enterprise customers.

The remaining head-worn AR division failed to gain momentum after prolonged setbacks in adoption of its AR smart glasses, including difficulties in training workers to use the futuristic hardware, a source told gpgmail.

All the while, the company’s leadership put on a brave face as the startup sputtered. In an interview this year with Cornell Enterprise Magazine, Daqri CEO Roy Ashok told the publication that the startup was forecasting shipments of “tens of thousands” of pairs of its AR glasses in 2020.

Daqri, its founder and several executives did not respond to requests for comment.


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YouTube’s new AR feature lets you virtually try on makeup while watching videos – gpgmail


Earlier this summer, YouTube announced its plans for a new AR feature for virtual makeup try-on that works directly in the YouTube app. Today, the first official campaign to use the “Beauty Try-On” feature has now launched, allowing viewers to try on and shop lipsticks from MAC Cosmetics from YouTube creator Roxette Arisa’s makeup tutorial video.

Makeup tutorials are hugely popular on YouTube, so an integration where you can try on the suggested looks yourself makes a ton of sense. While a lipstick try-on feature isn’t exactly groundbreaking — plenty of social media apps offer a similar filter these days — it could lead to more complex AR makeup integrations further down the road.

The new AR feature only works when you’re watching the video from a mobile device, and the YouTube app is updated to the latest version.

Then, when watching the video, you’ll see a button that says “try it on” which will launch the camera in a split-screen view. The video will continue to play as you scroll through the various lipstick shades below, applying the different colors to see which one works best. Unlike some of the filters in social apps like Instagram and Snapchat, the colors are evenly aligned with your lips and not bleeding out the edges. The result is a very natural look.

Image from iOS 1MAC Cosmetics will work with creators through YouTube’s branded content division, Famebit. The program connects brands with YouTube influencers who then market their products as paid sponsorships.

MAC is the first partner for this AR feature, but more will likely follow.

Prior to launch, YouTube tested the AR Beauty Try-On with several beauty brands, and found that 30% of viewers chose to active the experience in the YouTube iOS.

Those who did were fairly engaged, spending more than 80 seconds trying on virtual lipstick shades.

Google is not the first company to offer virtual makeup try-on experiences. Beyond social media apps, there are also AR beauty apps like YouCam Makeup, Sephora’s Virtual Artist, Ulta’s GLAMLab and others. L’Oréal also offers Live Try-On on its website, and had partnered with Facebook last year to bring virtual makeup to the site. In addition, Target’s online Beauty Studio offers virtual makeup across a number of brands and products.

YouTube’s implementation, however, is different because it’s not just a fun consumer product — it’s an AR-powered ad campaign.

Though some may scoff at the idea of virtual makeup, this market is massive. Millions watch makeup tutorials on YouTube every day, and the site has become the dominant source for referral traffic for beauty brands. In 2018, beauty-related content generated more than 169 billion views on the video platform.

You can watch the YouTube video here, or engage with the AR feature from the mobile YouTube app.

If you don’t see your face immediately after pressing the “try on” button, you probably need to update the YouTube app.


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