VR and simulation is not a new concept. At some point we have all experienced the alternate realities of video games, maybe even been joined by a stranger from across the globe in that same virtual world, with nothing but a headset to know that they do truly exist in real form. But these experiences are about to reach a whole new level thanks to the latest wonder kid of the British tech startup scene, Improbable. The impressive software they have been developing over the last couple of years has just scooped a $500 million investment, valuing them at over $1 billion and constituting the 5th largest venture capital investment in the UK for the last 10 years.
All this sounds pretty impressive, but what is Improbable actually doing? The company was set up in 2012 with its main focus on the gaming industry, building the technology that provides a platform for huge scale simulations. In late 2015, Improbable introduced its genius operating platform SpatialOS, which has now peaked the interest of everyone from the US and UK defence ministries and Google, due to its ability to perfectly simulate entire cities, and all the complexities that come with that – infrastructure, traffic, pedestrians etc.
The company believe that this capacity to create complex large-scale virtual worlds is the ‘next major phase in computing’, and could ‘change how we understand the real world’. This is the crucial difference between simulation and data, as data only allows us to gather pre-existing information. In order to make decisions about the future, industries from bioscience to engineering are recognising the need for virtual reality.
Speaking after making their huge investment, the managing director of Softbank explained that, “Beyond gaming, this new form of simulation on a massive scale has the potential to help us make better decisions about the world we live in. Improbable’s technology will help us explore disease, improve cities, understand economies and solve complex problems on a previously unimaginable scale.”
With a newly opened branch office in San Francisco, the Improbable team look set to join the big leagues of the startup world, but the goal for CEO Herman Narula remains the same – “Basically, we want to build the Matrix.”