Shasta Ventures launches a fund to accelerate AR and VR app development

Apple and Google are ready for an augmented reality tidal wave, but what of developers? Over the past several months, the availability of ARKit and ARCore have proven there’s plenty of interest in the technology on the developer side, and some big brands from Ikea to Disney have been publicly exploring the ways in which the technology can enhance existing applications. But developers working on a smaller scale could benefit from a push when it comes to embracing the tech at this still relatively early stage.

Shasta Ventures principal Jacob Mullins took to the Disrupt San Francisco stage this afternoon to announce that the venture capital firm is working to help incentivize development in the AR field with a new fund that will back eligible parties to the tune of $100,000 apiece. The Shasta Camera Fund seeks to invest in companies in the pre-seed and early seed stages for products in the augmented reality, virtual reality and “camera-first computer vision” fields.

Mullins laid out the firm’s vision on stage, citing his own experiences at Microsoft as a precedent for the value of investing in a developer ecosystem at this early stage. Even as VR appears to have stalled in the wake of its early hype cycle, most tech giants continue to be extremely bullish about the growth potential of augmented reality. It is, after all, the more accessible of the two technologies. An entry-level application only requires a handset to enjoy.

And the astronomical success of applications like Pokemon Go have demonstrated how even an extremely basic AR application can greatly enhance the appeal of a mobile experience. An explosion in early AR development could be the tide that raises all ships, reigniting interest in VR development. 

But a lack of truly compelling content early on could be enough to stop AR in its tracks before it has the opportunity to become a truly mainstream experience. “The earliest days of a new platform often pose a ‘chicken or egg’ problem,” Mullins said ahead of the announcement, “creative developers need funding to develop an idea, but because of lack of traditional scale, they can struggle to attract funding at such an early stage. Shasta Camera Fund fills that gap.”

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