A United Kingdom-based startup, WaveOptics, that builds optics with a waveguide-base has raised nearly $16 million in Series B funding. The funding comes from Touchstone Innovations PLC, Octopus Ventures, Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH who are previous investors, as well as Gobi Ventures as a new investor. This brings total funding for WaveOptics to $15.71 million.
The company was founded in 2014 and rather than producing AR systems, it instead focuses on optics technology used in displaying AR images. Rather than using prisms or mirrors as is common, they use waveguide technology which takes advantage of hologram physics to show an image inside of a transparent display.
What makes this better than conventional AR projection is that it is less bulky, which means that the devices can be light and small. The company has also noted that their system is easier to manufacture and less expensive to make since there are no rare materials or complicated processes to make these systems.
“Until now, there has not yet been a mass market [augmented reality] product; we’re confident that we can capitalize on the expansion of the market,” WaveOptics Chairman Martin Harriman said in a statement. “WaveOptics is the only AR company in the world right now that has solved an industry-wide challenge — the display element of AR that provides a compelling visual performance, possesses a compact form factor and is inexpensive to manufacture at scale.”
WaveOptics hasn’t explained how they plan to expand to other markets but it is clear that many AR headset manufacturers could use this type of waveguide technology. The ability to make more comfortable headsets is important when it comes to bringing AR to the masses, and waveguide makes that an easier proposition.
“WaveOptics has made significant technical and commercial progress since the investment round we led in October 2015, with very positive feedback from industry on its initial beta products. This new funding will allow the company to complete its product development and position itself as a leader and key technology enabler of highly compelling AR experiences,” said Robert Bahns, director at Touchstone Innovations.
What Makes WaveOptics Different
WaveOptics leadership believe their approach to AR optics is stronger than other company’s approaches, and it certainly seems they carry a simple elegance in their work.
“WaveOptics is reinventing the AR market, by developing a series of new AR display tech that enables a wider field of view and brighter full color images — a unique combination in today’s market,” said Martin Harriman, Chairman, WaveOptics, in a statement. “This funding round further accelerates development of our industry-leading technologies and enables us to launch programs in new markets and territories. We are excited about the team of investors we have on board who share our vision.”
WaveOptics may or may not be the “wave” of the future but seeing innovations in this sector is something many can find exciting. Making these type of technologies accessible is a great step into the new technology future.