Virtualitics, the pioneering startup that merges AI and VR/AR with big data, recently announced the close of its $7 million Series B. The round was led by by Centricus, a global investment platform, and with participation by existing investor the Venture Reality Fund (‘The VR Fund’) and other private investors. This follows a $4.4 million Series B that was closed only last April, which was led by The VR Fund.

“The reason for the short time between A and B was the strong market response, interest and adoption, which attracted new investors to lead the new round to provide acceleration of the company’s original growth model.” Marco DeMiroz, general partner at The VR Fund, told me. “We are fortunate to have Centricus as a new lead since they have an extensive global presence to help the company.”

Early wins for the early stage

Why is this a big deal? Last year, we saw early-stage VR/AR investments fall, even if the spikes in Q2 and Q4 among a very few mammoth-sized deals in specific investment categories made it appear like it was an improvement from 2016. It’s an important, positive, and well-timed indicator that a VR startup with as strong fundamentals as Virtualitics raises a healthy new round that is triggered not purely by the need for funding in order to survive, but because they’ve effectively struck oil and need to scale in order to satisfy market demand. To have it happen now also helps to encourage and strengthen investor confidence at an important time of the year.

This last round brings Virtualitics’ total funding to date to an excess of $11 million to supporting their vision of leveraging emerging technologies in order to enable and unlock the potential of big data in ways that are otherwise hindered or altogether impossible with simple 2D tools and platforms, including the 3D tools that are only represented on 2D panes and windows. Indeed, VR/AR-driven reporting powered by machine learning promises to do what has defied the reach and grasp of all of its predecessors.

“Turning big and complex data into useful insights requires new ways to analyze and interact with it. We’ve solved for this by coupling AI with immersive environments.” Ciro Donalek, CTO and co-founder, wrote in the press release. “Moreover, business intelligence platforms need to be 3D and collaborative by design in order to help companies gain a deeper level of understanding in the stories being told by the raw data. This is how we’re approaching big data and helping evolve the next generation of data analytics and intelligence platforms.”

Above: Virtualitics’ reporting tools in motion

The kind of interactive data visualizations that can be presented and digested for human consumption as an interactive medium that you can literally step into and manipulate in either a calculating or intuitive way is why Virtualitics has been able to consistently reel in, retain, and grow its relationships with several major global Fortune 500 businesses across multiple industry sectors, including consumer goods, healthcare, energy and finance.

Donalek shared with me some of the interesting and varied kind of use cases that their clients have put into play with their immersive solutions:

  1. Extracting insights through the machine learning models to quickly find and visualize relationships among hundreds of variables in order to understand the ones that drive the problem at hand.
  2. To better explore and interact with their data through ad hoc visualizations in 3D and VR.
  3. To let teams collaborate across different geographic locations, interacting and analyzing data together, which is much more effective than exchanging PDFs or screen sharing.
  4. As a storytelling tool to convey results to upper management, decision makers or clients.

While last month I covered the mixed reality analytics platforms that cater for the needs specifically of VR/AR startups, which for their part suffer from a widespread lack of market adoption and traction, it’s clear that Virtualitics’ novel breed of Sci-Fi reporting solutions are much more readily received by traditional industries. And that’s due to the fact that this digital sorcery allows these industries to finally approach and confront all of the myriad of extraordinary challenges that rest inside the scrambled nests of big data sets, which have been all the while lying dormant and can now be stirred awake to deliver bleeding-edge breakthroughs.

A bellwether for the sector

Other startups in this space, like DatavizVR, are welcoming the news as it adds fuel and a sense of validation for their sector as a whole, raising the profile of the technology’s applications in remedying the most pervasive big data challenges faced by the majority of enterprises today. Their WebVR-powered platform, 3Data, allows users to create, collaborate, and present 3D graphs seamlessly to an unlimited amount of viewers on any hardware or any device via the open web, reducing what would normally take hours down to minutes.

Above: 3Data platform by DatavizVR

“The recent raise from Virtualitics helps validate the market for VR/AR B2B enterprise tools like data visualization.” Nick Walusayi, co-founder and CEO of DatavizVR, told me. “We are solving big data problems using cutting edge technology and enterprises need to adopt these solutions to stay competitive.”

This reason above all others may define our fascination with emerging technologies like VR/AR and AI in the first place. Their talent to transcend the barriers that we as humans simply cannot cope with either in scale or scope is simply awe-inspiring. Indeed, these type of collaborative platforms enable data scientists and laymen alike to dig up and surface multidimensional relationships in big data that just cannot be discovered by any other means.

Amir Bozorgzadeh is cofounder and CEO at Virtuleap, the host of the Global WebXR Hackathon and the startup powering up the Gaze-At-Ratio (GAR) XR metric.