Enterprise AR/MR hardware provider ThirdEye recently announced an investment fund for AR/MR software providers. ThirdEye CEO and founder, Nick Cherukuri, spoke with ARPost to explain how the fund works, what the plans are for the future, and how the fund benefits the XR market in general as well as ThirdEye in particular.
Announcing the ThirdEye Investment Fund
The ThirdEye Investment Fund for AR/MR Projects was officially announced on May 18 and has already seen some engagement, according to Cherukuri. Applicants are asked a few short questions about their management team, their product and core technology, target markets, customer pipelines, and competition.
“We’re looking for companies specialized in one area that have a strong market advantage,” said Cherukuri. “We want to evaluate all of the background information and see if this would be a good fit.”
Once an application is submitted, ThirdEye’s internal advisory board, consisting of tech experts and business development professionals, reviews the application and follows up with the software provider. The review process is expected to take about a month depending on the case. The amount of grant funding that is awarded will also vary, but is set to begin at $50k.
“This is a small fund. We want to see how it works out before potentially expanding it later this year,” said Cherukuri.
Of course, software providers don’t only receive financial support. They also get help from ThirdEye’s technical solutions and support, marketing support, lead sharing, and other benefits.
“This isn’t just an investment, it’s also a hosting approach using our technical support team to expand their services,” said Cherukuri.
The approach may seem restrictive, but ThirdEye is based on the Android operating system so applications developed through the fund aren’t restricted to any proprietary, tailored operating system. That’s what makes the fund important.
The Hardware/Software Provider Relationship
The point behind the fund is to develop the XR industry both by helping software providers and by creating relationships between these providers and hardware providers.
“The best way to continue accelerating the growth in this industry is to tighten integrations between hardware and software providers,” said Cherukuri.
Hardware is only valuable if it supports software that users need. This is easier in consumer software as enterprise clients are more likely to have highly specific use cases. That makes it difficult for software providers that don’t make one-size-fits-all solutions to get the sales that they need to grow. Growing these providers expands markets for hardware providers.
Many hardware manufacturers sell their headsets by also making their own applications that serve the needs of their target markets. However, for the most part, hardware providers and software providers are separate entities and the communication between them can vary, which eventually causes problems for clients and customers.
“When you have hardware companies and software companies and the relationships aren’t that close, then when the customer has a problem the hardware company or the software company might not have an answer,” explained Cherukuri.
With XR hardware and services already being relatively expensive, the clients and customers can get upset fairly quickly with problems compounded by ineffective troubleshooting.
How ThirdEye Wins Too
The winners in this program are the companies that get funded, and the enterprise XR market that gets fresh and diverse applications. However, ThirdEye doesn’t come away empty-handed for their trouble.
As a hardware provider, ThirdEye is fertilizing its own garden by helping software providers. Further, ThirdEye gets an early introduction to all of the companies that it invests in. And of course, those applications will run on ThirdEye headsets.
“This enables us to have access to software that we don’t have time to develop ourselves internally,” said Cherukuri. “Also, it will help us as a team to be better integrated to the software platforms.”
A Step in the Right Direction
We’d like to say that ThirdEye solved all of our problems. However, while bringing more software to headsets is a step in the right direction, there are also software providers reluctant to double down on full AR solutions until the hardware is in the right place. There’s always more work to do.