WaveOptics, the UK company committed to pushing the boundaries of optical science to make stunningly immersive Augmented Reality (AR) commercially viable and accessible to multiple industry partners, today announced a £12m Series B funding round. WaveOptics’ existing investors, Octopus Ventures, Touchstone Innovations plc and Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH reinvested and were joined by China’s Gobi Ventures who came on board as a new investor.
‘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 colour images – a unique combination in today’s market’, said Martin Harriman, Chairman, WaveOptics. “This funding round further accelerates development of our industry-leading technologies and enables us to launch programmes in new markets and territories. We are excited about the team of investors we have on board who share our vision. ’
The AR market is expected to be worth more than $55 billion by 2020, which clearly indicates the great potential of this technology and its anticipated benefits, in the enterprise and consumer space. WaveOptics’ Series B funding round is a true testament to this, as it’s the biggest of its kind this year in the UK, leading in the AR hardware space.
WaveOptics is a global business with headquarters in Abingdon, Oxfordshire in the United Kingdom. It is developing novel optical waveguide technology and modules for augmented reality displays. Augmented reality (AR) devices enable people to view the world around them, overlaid with relevant digital content.
Whilst a number of major manufacturers are building the full AR systems (including the optics, sensors, camera and head mounted unit), WaveOptics is focused on developing the underlying optics to deliver an enhanced AR experience, whilst solving some of the performance and cost challenges currently limiting AR technology adoption.
The core of the WaveOptics technology is a novel design of waveguide that is able to channel light input from a micro display positioned at the periphery of a glass, or in future plastic, lens. Unlike conventional technologies that rely on cumbersome prisms, mirrors or scarce materials, WaveOptics’ optical design harnesses waveguide hologram physics and photonic crystals, which enables lightweight design with unrivalled optical performance.
Robert Bahns, Director of Technology Investment at Touchstone Innovations, said: “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.”
Simon King, Principle at Octopus Ventures continued, “There are a number of technical hurdles that need to be overcome before AR is widely adopted and getting the display right comes high at the top of that list. We are very excited to continue to back the talented team at WaveOptics as we believe they have the skills and technology to deliver an experience that will unlock the next revolution in personal computing”
Hongquan Jiang, Partner at Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH added, “AR optics with great user experience and affordable cost in the mass production is the key for market adoption of AR products. WaveOptics‘ wave guides could become a game changer in this respect for the AR industry. We are very excited about the company and expect much synergy between Waveoptics and Bosch in a variety of AR applications.”
Michael Zhu, Managing Partner at Shanghai based Gobi Partners continued, “The massive global potential for AR is likely to emerge within the Asian markets where the desire for this technology is significant. It is clear that WaveOptics have unlocked the combination of performance, compact form factor and scalability and present a highly compelling solution for the crutial optical element of headworn AR solutions”.
Martin Harriman, Chairman, WaveOptics concluded ‘Until now, there has not yet been a mass market product; we’re confident that we can capitalise on the expansion of the market. 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.’