© iStock.com/Jovanmandic

Key Points:
  • Apple Augmented Reality develops and produces hardware and software for AR. Dedicated R&D teams design the hardware and software to ensure a fully optimized user experience.
  • Pixar is at the forefront of developing immersive entertainment registering numerous patents in this area. Their research spans 3D, IMAX, CGI, VR, and AR technologies.
  • In recent years, the NVIDIA has branched out in AR, producing NVIDIA DRIVE™, a scalable AI car platform, and the “GameWorks” software for photorealistic gaming.

Augmented reality (AR) technology has rapidly grown, with adoption increasing since the 2020 pandemic. From games to software applications, interactive maps and educational tools, AR technology has multiple applications. Numerous companies have invested billions to develop the hardware and software to make AR a next-generation technology. Below we highlight the 10 largest AR companies in the world and what they do, along with detailed company profiles, revenues, and FAQs.

#1 Apple AR

Largest GPU Companies
Apple Inc. is a multinational technology company that designs, develops, and sells consumer electronics, computer software, and online services.

©maodoltee/Shutterstock.com

As the world’s largest technology company by revenue, it is understandable that Apple has the resources and expertise to dominate the augmented reality arena potentially. Like its big five competitors, including Meta, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft, Apple is investing heavily in AR software and hardware technology.

Company profile 

Apple Augmented Reality develops and produces hardware and software for AR. Dedicated R&D teams design the hardware and software to ensure a fully optimized user experience. AR products that Apple is working on include cameras, displays, GPUs, and motion sensors. Apple also develops platforms and tools for AR developers. The ARKit 5 and RealityKit frameworks support the development of AR features for Apple devices and software. Apple intends that its apps and programs will support the AR experience.  In early 2022, Apple filed a trademark for an operating system that would be dedicated to supporting virtual and augmented reality headsets.

HeadquartersCupertino, California, United States
Founded1976 by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Ronald Wayne
CEOTim Cook
Revenue:$365 billion (2021)
Number of employees: 154,000
Websitehttps://www.apple.com/augmented-reality/ 

#2 Google AR & VR

Alphabet Group, Google’s parent company, has invested in augmented reality hardware and software. Currently, Google’s focus seems to be on developing AR technology for Android/mobile apps. Their AR & VR labs are focused on finding new ways for Google-connected devices to be helpful.

Company profile 

Google AR & VR is a growing area, with the VP or AR & VR reporting directly to Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai. This is in keeping with the substantial investments of competitors like Apple and Facebook, with Google Lens being a particular area of intensive development. Google believes AR smart glasses will be extremely successful once the technology becomes more widely adopted.  

Augmented reality AR glasses technology
Smart glasses with screen protection.

©iStock.com/Bet_Noire

Google is keen to get AR working for its users in practical ways. Example use cases provided by the company include augmented reality overlays, immersive content, and integration with Google Search and YouTube. Work on AR also involves collaboration between Google AR & VR and its hardware and platform teams, who are “thinking through” AR now. 

Headquarters Mountain View, California
Founded1998 by
Current PresidentClay Bavor (VP of AR & VR)
Revenue$209 billion (2021)
Employees: 139,995
Websitettps://arvr.google.com/ar/ 

#3 Pixar

Pixar Animation Studios is a California-based computer animation studio renowned for its computer-generated image (CGI) feature films. Pixar is owned by the Walt Disney Company and operates as a subsidiary of Walt Disney Studios. Over the last 30 years, Pixar has diversified into the development of augmented reality technology. The company has developed open-source technologies alongside ongoing research and development. 

Company profile 

Pixar was founded in 1979 as a subdivision of Lucasfilm known as the Graphics Group. In 1986, with the aid of $5 million in funding from Steve Jobs, it became a corporation. Its first CGI feature film, Toy Story grossed over $3 billion worldwide. Disney later acquired Pixar for over $7 billion in 2006. 

Pixar has a thriving R&D department that has developed key graphics technologies used in AR. The company’s research covers aspects of AR and animation technology like: 

  1. Rasterizing Volumes and Surfaces for Crowds
  2. Phong Deformation
  3. Orthogonal Array Sampling

Pixar is at the forefront of developing immersive entertainment registering numerous patents in this area. Their research spans 3D, IMAX, CGI, VR, and AR technologies. Their open-source graphics technologies include OpenSubdiv and Open Timeline. Pixar also developed the Universal Scene Description (USDZ) file format in partnership with Apple for AR imaging on iPhones.

HeadquartersEmeryville, California,
Founded1986
CEOJim Morris 
Revenue $6.7 billion (2021)
Employees:1,233
Websitewww.pixar.com

#4 NVIDIA

Largest robotics companies
The world’s first graphics processing unit (GPU), the GeForce 256, was released by Nvidia in 1999.

©Sundry Photography/Shutterstock.com

Nvidia is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of GPUs (Graphic Processing Units), with a heavy emphasis on gaming and an increasing focus on augmented reality. It has become an artificial intelligence (AI) hardware and software leader. They also produce system-on-a-chip modules along with laptops and drivers. 

Company profile 

Nvidia’s “GeForce” product line and gaming platform reflect the company’s heavy focus on gaming. In recent years, the company has branched out in AR, producing NVIDIA DRIVE™, a scalable AI car platform, and the “GameWorks” software for photorealistic gaming.

NVIDIA was founded on April 5, 1993, with an initial operating budget of just $40,000. The founders, Jensen Huang, Chris Malachowsky, and Curtis Priem, have semiconductor technology and electrical engineering backgrounds. They believed graphics-based computing would drive the next wave of innovation in the sector.

In recent years, Nvidia has built on its gaming expertise to develop an AR platform known as the Omniverse. This is a collaborative platform where developers can create and operate metaverse applications. Developers and engineers can undertake 3D graphic design in this environment using Pixar’s open-source Universal Screen Description (USD) standard. 

HeadquartersSanta Clara, California,
Founded1993
CEOJensen Huang
Revenue$6.7 billion (2021)
Employees13,775
Websitewww.nvidia.com 

#5 SNAP Inc. 

Snap’s Snapchat camera-based social media app is used for photo, text, and voice messaging between subscribers.

Snap Inc. is the camera app company behind the popular social media app, Snapchat. Founders Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy, and Reggie Brown have run the company since it started in 2011. Snap Inc. is gaining recognition as an augmented reality company because of its recent acquisitions focused on AR technology.

Company profile 

But beyond the app, it has made noteworthy advances in AR technology and integrated it into the user experience. In particular, Snap has developed a range of AR eyewear, including collaborations with Prada. Their “Spectacles” glasses feature gesture recognition and present the user with items they are looking at in different colors, using the eyewear as a ‘virtual mirror’. 

The Snapchat app was originally called Picaboo. The founders switched the name to Snapchat and launched the app in September 2011. In 2016 they renamed the company Snap. Its IPO in March 2017 raised $3.4 billion, and Snap has since gained the following AR-related companies:

  • Vergence Labs (acquired 2014): a company that produces glass frames for video recording eyewear. 
  • Looksery (acquired 2015): a selfie animation app that uses facial recognition technology to place filters over the user.
  • Seene / Obvious Engineering: a camera app that can scan real-life images and create 3D VR versions.
HeadquartersChantilly, Virginia
Founded2011
CEOEvan Spiegel
Revenue$6.7 billion (2021)
Employees5,661
Websitewww.snap.com

#6 Niantic

Niantic is an augmented reality gaming company known for its bestseller game, Pokémon Go. They develop games to be used by smartphone users on a subscription basis, with in-app revenues of almost $1 billion annually.  

Company profile 

Niantic has established a reputation for creating augmented reality experiences that intermingle with the natural world. Their gaming involves interacting with the natural environment and real landmarks. Niantic calls this the Naturalverse and has invested in various R&D projects to expand this concept. 

Niantic began as Niantic Labs within Google and is named after an American whaling vessel. The lab was started in 2010 by John Hanke and Phil Keslin, later separating from Google in 2015. 

Niantic has made many AR-related acquisitions, including Evertoon, Escher Reality, and Seismic Games. It has also created an AR development platform called Lightship using an augmented reality Development Kit (ARDK).

HeadquartersChantilly, Virginia
Founded2010
CEOJohn Hanke
Revenue$890 million
Employees777
Websitehttps://www.nianticlabs.com/ 

#7 SightCall

SightCall is a SaaS company that uses augmented reality and artificial intelligence to help customer service professionals serve customers over a live video connection. SightCall’s visual assistant uses AR to create overlaid digital graphics so that customer service reps can guide product users in real-time from a remote location.

Company profile 

SightCall is a cloud software company that provides AR guidance that can assist customers, service users, and technicians via their smartphones. Their proprietary interface uses AI computer vision analysis to layer on AR directions and instructions with features that include live pointers, annotations, and zooming on images or video. The technology applies to a wide range of industries. 

The company was founded in 2008 by Antoine Vervoort and Thomas Cottereau. In 2011 it received a $4 million seed round investment from ID Invest Partners. Its latest funding round in 2021 raised $42 million.

With SightCall, customer points their smartphone camera at the problem they are encountering with a product. SightCall’s AI identifies the problem, and AR is used to annotate their video call to guide the customer effectively. Customers can do this with a customer service professional or as a self-service option. SightCall has had a promising start with the technology adopted by companies including Kraft, GE Healthcare, and Jaguar Land Rover.

HeadquartersSan Francisco, California
Founded2008
CEOThomas Cottereau
Revenue$100 million (2022)
Employees200
Websitehttp://www.sightcall.com/ 

#8 Applied VR

logo of AppliedVR
AppliedVRApplied VR is actively building an evidence base for its pain-relief VR technology and has received multiple funding rounds.  Logo

©appliedvr.io – License

Applied VR is a virtual reality company that develops VR-based therapeutic solutions for pain management. It was the first company to apply the research methodologies and standards used in traditional medical device development to virtual reality.

Company profile 

AppliedVR is a digital therapeutics startup currently speeding up the development, testing and distribution of its chronic pain management technology that uses VR-delivered immersive experiences. 

Its signature product is the EaseVRx therapy which uses a VR headset, controller, and breathing amplifier to take patients through a 16-minute session to ease chronic back pain. The technology is doctor-prescribed and designed to teach users effective pain management strategies by using the immersive experience. EaseVRx has shown promising results in a range of clinical trials that included over 30,000 patients. AppliedVR attracted $36 million in angel investment in 2021 to scale the solution to different clinical conditions. 

AppliedVR was founded in 2013 by Matthew Stoudt and David Sackman. The firm designed its VR therapeutic solution in partnership with leading physicians and pain management experts. It has established commercial relationships with over 240 hospitals that use EaseVRx as part of their pain management protocols. 

HeadquartersVan Nuys, California, United States
Founded2013
CEOMatthew Stoudt
Revenue$7 million
Employees49
Websiteappliedvr.io

#9 Avegant

Avegant specializes in augmented reality display solutions, using micro-mirror arrays to create pixel-free AR images for AR and VR applications.

Man wearing Gylph VR headset

©Maurizio Pesce from Milan, Italia, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons – License

Company profile 

Avegant is an AR hardware company with over a decade of experience developing and manufacturing light engines for AR and VR headwear. Their advanced optics technology has garnered investors that include Intel, Applied Ventures, and DN Capital.

It was founded in 2012 by Taiwanese-American Edward Tang, who remains its CEO. Tang, an electrical engineering graduate of the University of Michigan, specialized in electrical engineering and developing the micro-electrical mechanical systems (MEMS) on which Avegant is built. 

Avegant has developed light engines for AR and VR devices. Avegant uses its proprietary illumination technology to create AR glasses with a bigger field of view. The light engines solve one of AR’s biggest challenges, reducing the form factor of glasses and headsets. In 2021. Avegant released the AG-30L 30º and the AG-50L 50º LED light engines, which are expected to go into mass production in 2023. 

HeadquartersBelmont, California,
Founded2012
CEOEdward Tang
Revenue$9 million (2022)
Employees7
Websitehttp://avegant.com/ 

#10 3dar 

logo of 3dar
3dar has created several shorts that have won awards and recognition for pushing the boundaries of AR.

©3dar.com – License

3dar is an augmented reality production company based in Santa Monica, California, and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Its focus is on using AR as a storytelling tool, and it has produced several well-received animated films. 

Company profile 

Alongside its production of short films, 3dar provides the following services:

  • Production of television commercials with animation and VFX.
  • Development of VFX for feature films
  • Creation of immersive AR content for education and marketing
  • Experiential design

Federico and German Heller found 3dar in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2004. Federico is a  producer and director who launched his career and 3dar with his short film Uncanny Valley which went viral. The team has since worked with Disney, Universal, and FOX. In particular, the music video “Earth”, which achieved over 200,000 views received a Cannes Lion and two Webby awards.

HeadquartersSanta Monica, California,
Founded2004
CEOFederico Heller
Revenue $4.6 million (2022)
Employees24
Websitehttps://www.3dar.com/ 

The Largest Augmented Reality Companies In The World, And What They Do

RankCompany
#1Apple AR
#2Google AR & VR
#3Pixar
#4Nvidia
#5SNAP
#6Niantic
#7SightCall
#8Applied VR 
#9Avegant
#103dar 

Up Next…

10 Largest Augmented Reality Companies In The World, And What They Do FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is augmented reality?

Augmented reality or AR is a technology that is used to generate interactive experiences that blend computer-generated content with the real-world environment. The combination of real and virtual worlds is in real time with an accurate representation of real and virtual objects. Real-world experiences can be changed, augmented, or enhanced by the addition of programmed visual, auditory, olfactory, and somatosensory inputs that are directed or generated by a computer program. A variety of companies have developed novel hardware and software technologies to achieve the overlaid sensory information that is experienced by the user. 

 

AR is believed to have been first developed by the US Airforce in the 1990s. This mixed reality technology is now increasingly used for providing immersive experiences with commercial applications that span entertainment to healthcare.

What are the differences between augmented reality and virtual reality?

Augmented reality has similarities and overlaps with virtual reality, but they are distinct technologies: Here is a summary of the key difference between augmented reality (AR) vs virtual reality (VR): 

  • AR technology enhances a real-world view by adding computer-generated images and sensory input. 
  • VR technology is designed to be completely immersive, with the user receiving computer-generated visuals and other sensory input. The environment they experience and interact with is entirely artificial.
  • VR technology uses a dedicated headset, earphones, and controls to immerse the user in the virtual world.
  • AR does not require a headset as the user is receiving real world inputs. Many AR applications use glasses or a smartphone that allow the user to see the real world while experiencing overlaid digital content.

What is the Metaverse?

The metaverse, popularized by Facebook, is a virtual internet-based environment where users can use a combination of AR, VR, and social media to interact, browse, shop, and work together. It is touted as the evolution of the internet and is likely to be an expansive environment that accommodates a range of technologies and interactions. Facebook envisages people will use VR headsets and interact using avatars of themselves, spending digital currencies to purchase products and services. 

What are the applications or uses of augmented reality?

AR technology has a set of applications, including: 

  • Archaeology: AR can enhance the mapping of archaeological sites, to produce superimposed layouts or images of what the site would have looked like in previous times.
  • Gaming: AR is already extensively used to enhance gaming experiences. Many popular smartphone games use AR to overlay characters and images over a live camera feed. 
  • Interior design: Designers and retailers use AR to help their clients see what their homes will look like with different features and furnishing.
  • Art: With AR, artists can design amazing virtual installations that can be seen and experienced overlaid on video footage or public spaces. 
  • Education: AR companies use AR to create immersive educational experiences that can engage and inspire students.
  • Defense: the US Airforce developed AR for military applications. It can be used for training, reconnaissance, navigation, and enhanced communications.

What are the negative effects of augmented reality?

Augmented reality has several concerning effects that may pose a risk of harm to users, children, and the public. The downsides of AR include: 

  • Loss of awareness of one’s surroundings: AR may distract users from hazards in their immediate environment leading to accidents. Pokémon GO is known to have caused traffic accidents and fatalities because players of the game interacted with the AR feed rather than being alert to hazards. 
  • Potential for trespassing:  preoccupation with AR games or directions may lead Ar users to trespass on private property.
  • Detachment from reality: Individuals may prefer the AR environment to the real world and become addicted to changing their surroundings to suit themselves rather than accepting reality. 
  • Privacy concerns:  As AR uses a live camera feed, there may be issues regarding recording in public spaces. 

 

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