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商业 - 科技

投资者相信虚拟现实“不虚拟”

Jonathan Vanian 2016年02月04日

2010年以来,他们已经为这项具有科幻色彩的技术倾注了近40亿美元资金。

2010年以来,投资者已经为虚拟现实领域的初创型企业倾注了近40亿美元资金。然而,这项侵入式技术成为主流并且找到明确的生财之道还需要一段时间。

市场分析机构PitchBook发布的最新虚拟现实行业报告指出,技术让今天的智能手机更为出色,它的进步极大地促进了新虚拟现实产品的开发。创新让虚拟现实技术的成本变得比以往任何时候都低。

对于成长之中的虚拟现实市场,该报告有四项有意思的发现,具体如下:

1. 处于上升阶段的虚拟现实公司是投资热门

2014年,Facebook斥资20亿美元收购了虚拟现实设备制造商Oculus。在2010年以来的虚拟现实行业投资中,有很大一部分都来自这笔交易。不过,还有许多公司打算为这项技术注入资金。开始融资的虚拟现实初创公司越来越多,其中的代表性企业就是Magic Leap,它正在开发具有虚拟现实功能的隐形眼镜。2012年成立以来,Magic Leap已筹集资金5.94亿美元,最大投资者为谷歌。

该报告还指出,设在佛罗里达州的虚拟现实公司LENSAR从2005年至今共筹集了1.91亿美元资金。LENSAR说自己的虚拟现实技术可以提供人眼的3D图像,从而帮助外科医生开展研究,以便他们更好地完成白内障摘除手术。2015年11月份,加州医疗保健企业ALPHAEON宣布,将斥资5900万美元收购LENSAR。

2. 2015年对虚拟现实投资来说很重要

PitchBook的分析师指出,2015年已出现119次和虚拟现实公司有关的融资活动,总规模约6.02亿美元。以迪士尼为首的投资方在9月份向虚拟现实相机制造商Jaunt投资6500万美元,这被该报告列为年度最大融资项目之一。

《财富》杂志曾报道,Jaunt的内部工作室已经为The North Face、ABC News以及传奇人物、披头士乐队成员保罗•麦卡特尼制作过虚拟现实内容。Jaunt联合创始人兼首席技术官亚瑟•范霍夫在《财富》2015全球论坛上表示,好莱坞电影公司对投资虚拟现实技术特别感兴趣。PitchBook的报告显示,在这个领域投入资金的顶尖风投公司包括罗森伯格基金、英特尔投资和谷歌风投。

3. 虚拟现实开始进入非游戏领域

虚拟现实并非只是戴上头盔,在加强版的《我的世界》里摆弄虚拟方块。撰写该报告的作者指出,游戏发烧友可能是虚拟现实技术的第一批使用者,并将推动这项技术的发展。不过,其他行业也在想办法创造热门产品。

报告以NBA和金州勇士队为例,二者曾和NextVR合作,以360度全景方式转播了金州勇士的赛季揭幕战(观众需要佩戴三星的虚拟现实头盔)。娱乐公司也越来越倾向于认为,消费者希望获得比观看电视节目更逼真的体验。

该报告称,此外,建筑和工程公司也在利用虚拟现实技术来制作更美观的3D模型,以便为新的设计打造原型产品。服装制造商耐克也在考虑用虚拟现实技术来帮助顾客在网上打造自己的专属鞋子。

4. 公司仍需找到虚拟现实的生财之道

尽管对虚拟现实的投资和探索都在增多,但该报告指出:“市场还远未成熟,无法确切预测某些产品的平均售价。”报告认为,企业界仍在寻找虚拟现实技术的生财之道。

在《财富》2015全球论坛上,几位虚拟现实技术专家也探讨了这个问题。由于公司方面仍在探索盈利方式,报告表示很难预测相关产品的定价水平及其市场规模。

该报告的几位作者指出:

从投资者的角度来说,对于有可比较的业绩数据的更成熟的行业,市场规模就很重要。但如上所述,虚拟现实技术还没有走到这一步。

我们从风投公司那里得到的信息是,估算虚拟现实市场的具体规模仍存在不确定性。不过,建立一个良好生态系统所需的各项要素,以及让虚拟现实体验实至名归的相应技术确实都已经成形。(财富中文网)

译者:Charlie

校对:詹妮

Since 2010, investors have poured nearly $4 billion into startups working on virtual reality. But it will be a while before this immersive technology becomes mainstream and the way to make money from it is clear.

A new report about virtual reality released by market analyst firm PitchBook explained that advancements in the technology underpinning today’s smartphones have led to a huge push to develop new virtual reality products. Innovation has made the technology cheaper than ever before.

Here are four interesting findings from the report about the rising virtual reality, or VR, market:

The investment market is hot for rising VR companies

Although Facebook’s $2 billion acquisition of virtual reality gear maker Oculus in 2014 represents the bulk of VR investments since 2010, there are plenty of other companies looking to plow money into the technology. Magic Leap, which is working on contact lenses with virtual reality capabilities, leads a growing pack of startups when it comes to funding. It has received $594 million in funding, led by Google, since its founding in 2012. The report also singled out Florida-based LENSAR, a VR company that’s received $191 million in funding since 2005. LENSAR claims that its VR technology helps surgeons study 3D images of the human eye, which can help doctors better remove cataracts. California-based healthcare company ALPHAEON announcedin November that it would buy LENSAR for $59 million.

2015 is a big year for VR investments

PitchBook analysts said that there have been 119 VR-related deals totaling roughly $602 million in 2015. The report singles out a $65 million September funding round led by Disney in VR camera maker Jaunt as one of the year’s top investments. As Fortune reported, Jaunt has an in-house studio that makes virtual reality content for companies like The North Face, ABC News, and Beatles legend Paul McCartney. Arthur van Hoff, co-founder and CTO of Jaunt, recently said at Fortune’s Global Forum that Hollywood movie studios are especially interested in investing in VR. The top venture capital firms investing in VR are Rothenberg Ventures, Intel Capital, and Google Ventures, according to the PitchBook report.

VR is starting to branch out from gaming

Virtual reality means more than strapping on a headset and placing virtual blocks in a souped-up version of the video game Minecraft. The report’s authors explain that video game enthusiasts will likely be the first adopters of VR technology and will help drive its growth. However, other industries are also trying to create hit products. The authors used the example of the NBA and the Golden State Warriors, which partnered with NextVR to broadcast the team’s season opener in full 360-degree video (viewers needed a specific Samsung headset to watch). Entertainment companies are increasingly betting that people want more immersive experiences than what is possible through TVs.

Additionally, architecture and construction firms are exploring VR to create better looking 3D models to help prototype new designs, the report states. Apparel company Nike is also looking at VR technology to help shoppers design custom shoes online.

Companies still need to figure out how to make money in VR

Despite the increased investment and exploration of VR, “the market remains too premature to accurately predict average sales prices (ASPs) for certain products,” the report’s authors said. The report said that businesses are still figuring out ways to make money off of virtual reality technology, a topic explored by a panel of VR experts duringFortune’s Global Forum conference. Because businesses are still working out ways to make money, it’s difficult for the report’s authors to predict pricing on products and estimate the market size.

The authors say:

From an investor’s perspective, market sizes can be significant for more established industries that have comparable performance statistics, but again, that’s just not there yet for VR. What we’ve gathered from VCs is that there is still uncertainty about precisely how large the VR market will become, but the pieces for a proper ecosystem to build out, along with the proper technology to make VR experiences what they’re made out to be, is legitimately present today.

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