The Pokémon Go phenomenon has given new momentum to the idea of augmented reality – that is, products that project computer-generated images (like animated cartoon characters) on top of real-world images. AR is the cousin of virtual reality, which completely immerses users in a computer-generated world. The most prominent example of VR is Facebook’s Oculus Rift headset, which hit the market this spring.
Now, investors are jumping on the bandwagon. Global investment in VR and AR startups in the first quarter of 2016 topped $1 billion – that’s more than they invested in all of 2015. Most of that investment – $794 million – went into a single company, Magic Leap, which is developing a secretive technology that will reportedly beam computer generated images directly into your eyeballs. But regardless, investors are betting big on alternate realities becoming a multibillion dollar market.