Pretia Technologies Inc., the researcher and developer of AR Cloud Platform “Pretia” (hereafter referred to as “Pretia Technologies”), announced that it has raised an estimated 700 million yen funding round from participants SBI Investment, Shogakukan, Adastria, Dentsu Group, SMBC Venture Capital and other angel investors.
Pretia Technologies, whose services include the AR Cloud Platform “Pretia”, plans to use the raised funds to strengthen development systems, to enhance product quality, and to support developer communities. Pretia Technologies aims for “Pretia” to become a foundation that supports various industries such as entertainment, retail, production, education, marketing, architecture, and more.
■ The current AR market and Pretia’s hypothesis
The AR market is expected to grow at a rapid rate of roughly 40% per year from 2022, and is predicted to grow to 13.2 trillion yen globally by 2030. (*1)
As for trends in mobile devices and OS platforms, Apple and Google are seen to continue development of AR-related features.
Additionally, the era of AR glasses is expected to soon arrive. Project Cambria, of which Meta CEO Mark Zuckerburg posted a demo that showcased AR features, is rumored to be released near the end of 2022. Apple is also predicted to release an AR glasses product in 2023.
With the increase of demand for AR glasses content and solutions, it can be said that the need for accessible, high-quality AR application development platforms will rapidly increase as well.
While major industries’ endeavors with AR make front pages, the number of people that say their daily lives have been positively affected by AR remains small. Although present-day smartphones are capable of experiencing the basics of AR, and the spread of devices is eagerly awaited; what is keeping AR from being practically used in a widespread fashion? According to Pretia Technologies, there are three main reasons.
1. The gap between reality and AR experiences
There are many services in which users are able to make AR objects appear in chosen places, or to read QR codes and images for AR experiences. However, using QR codes and images make for unnatural experiences lacking in reality. Additionally, it was difficult for developers to realistically place objects of desired sizes and directions in desired locations. Designing and developing an AR experience that properly shares the laws of physics with the real world, while also being accessible to users, was a formidable process.
2. Inadequate supply of multi-user AR experiences
In order to create simultaneous experiences in which multiple users share the same AR experience and where the results of one user’s actions are reflected for other users, it was necessary for developers to combine various tools and take numerous steps.
3. Excessive development costs
In the process of developing a realistic AR experience, advanced and full-stack development skills were required, such as appropriately dispersing heavy processing to front-end and back-end. Due to this, applications’ development costs were excessive, resulting in many projects being unable to launch as they were deemed unprofitable.
Pretia Technologies develops and provides the AR Cloud Platform “Pretia” aiming to solve these three aforementioned problems.
With the AR Cloud Platform “Pretia” that utilizes real-world context to share AR experiences between multiple users while suppressing development costs, Pretia Technologies aims to realize a fun, accessible world filled with AR.
※1: Fortune Business Insights Augmented Reality Market Size: https://www.fortunebusinessinsights.com/augmented-reality-ar-in-automotive-market-105593
■ About the AR Cloud Platform “Pretia”
The AR Cloud “Pretia” is a platform that turns spaces into data, and uses that data to easily create AR experiences.
Even amongst other AR development tools, AR experiences developed using “Pretia” are special in that feature points are used to achieve accurate self-localization and to summon content embedded within spaces. It is also possible for multiple people to have simultaneous experiences at chosen location points. With these features, “Pretia” can provide AR experiences not built “upon” the real world, but rather blended “within” the real world.
To make “Pretia” a platform used throughout the world, it is supported in both Japanese and English. “Pretia” was released globally (excluding the EU) on 4/26, and already has users in more than 5 countries.
Introducing its features:
Feature 1: Datafication of space
Feature 2: Connection with Unity by Pretia SDK
Feature 3: Relocalization within application (spatial perception and self-localization)
Feature 4: Multiplay within application (simultaneous AR experiences between multiple users)
■ Investor comments
XR Business Development Office, Director – Tomoki Shimano
From publishing paper books to creating movie adaptations, events, websites, and more, Shogakukan has released various forms of media in accordance with the times. The reason why Shogakukan invested in Pretia Technologies is an extension of this history. We would like to realize a new vision, to make cities themselves into media, utilizing the AR technology that Pretia Technologies possesses.
The technology in question is the AR Cloud Platform “Pretia”, which shows promising spatial object placement and simultaneous multi-user experiences. By utilizing the strengths of both AR technology as well as Shogakukan’s prowess in content, we will undertake the realization of turning cities into media.
Adastria Co., Ltd.
Managing Director – Masayuki Kindo
In recent times, the fashion industry is facing revolutionary changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At Adastria, we have raised the maximization of contact points with customers in the digital domain as part of our growth strategy towards 2025. The viewpoints of partners both within and outside of the company are necessary to further accelerate changes.
We will actively pursue investing and collaborating with startup companies that possess innovative technology, such as Pretia Technologies, and will continue to provide new values to our customers.
SBI Investment Co., Ltd.
Investment Department Manager – Jun Hashizume
With the full-scale rise of the AR market, technology companies throughout the world, including Apple and Meta, are beginning to invest enormous amounts of funds to create use cases. I am under the impression that Pretia Technologies has the team and capabilities required to globally compete in the AR development platform domain, which has yet to have a reigning champion.
With CEO Ushio as the leader of a team with high business development skills, I predict that we will be seeing more cases where they work with major industries and administrations.
I am immensely excited to see how Pretia Technologies will grow into the leading company of next-generation media XR, and to participate in its story as a shareholder. I will be supporting them with my all.
Dentsu Group Inc.
Dentsu Innovation Initiative, Senior Manager – Kana Nakako
As an R&D organization within Dentsu Group Inc., Dentsu Innovation Initiative has pursued R&D within the XR domain as well as investing and building the foundations of businesses, all on a global scale.
We consider AR to be an extremely exciting technology and market. In our daily lives, we already enjoy content such as working and shopping within both digital and physical spaces. By making smoother connections between these experiences, human imagination may raise the quality of our lives not only within digital spaces but in our real world as well. We consider AR to become the foundation of this and see great possibilities for it in entertainment, marketing, and promotion, which are included in our group’s business domains.
Pretia Technologies has not only pursued the foundational technology of AR development, but also strived to design, develop, and manage end-users’ experiences and applications for location-based entertainment, as well as implementation in industries such as retail and production. By supporting Pretia Technologies’ vision as a partner with a different field of specialization, we also hope to contribute to a better society with the implementation of AR.
SMBC Venture Capital Co., Ltd.
Investment Sales Department1, Acting General Manager - Yuta Watanabe
It is our deepest honor to cooperate with Mr. Ushio and the members at Pretia Technologies, as they believe in the future of AR and have unceasingly worked to develop its technology.
The AR Cloud Platform “Pretia”, which launched in April, will help solve users’ inconveniences as well as development costs and technical difficulties of AR experiences.
We believe that “Pretia” will play a large role in the further spread of AR and that its features already make it a leading service globally.
We hope that it will contribute to the social implementation of AR with its widespread use, and we SMBC group have the intention of providing full support.
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Styling & Shooting Location: Adastria Co., Ltd.