DigiLens, Sunnyvale, a Californian startup developing displays for Augmented Reality (AR) devices, today announced that it has closed a $ 50 million C Series round of investments led by UDC Ventures Universal Display Corporation, Samsung Ventures, Pokémon Go creator Niantic, Continental AG , Sony Innovation Fund and Mitsubishi Diamond Edge Ventures.
This more than doubled the previous $ 22 million round of Californian company Sunnyvale in January 2017, and it brings venture capital to DigiLens to date at a rate of over $ 100 million.
CEO Chris Pickett said that fresh capital will contribute to the development of its augmented reality technologies for automotive, corporate, consumer, airline and military brands.
“These partnerships will provide an ecosystem that allows our technology to enter different devices in different form factors,” he added.
Glasses with DigiLens technology, for example, can help you navigate your car.
DigiLens improved the technology almost a decade ago, the report said, when the company collaborated with Rockwell Collins to create HUD aviation systems for the US Armed Forces. Most recently, the company has developed a photopolymer material and a holographic copying process, which allows diffractive optics to be produced with printers, which are usually cheaper than traditional machines.
“UDC Ventures and Samsung Ventures recognized, thanks to these investments, that DigiLens is a leader in waveguide technology and the only waveguide that can reach the consumer price point through its own photopolymer, design software and innovative manufacturing process,” says Pickett.
In January, DigiLens demonstrated its prototype Crystal AR, a glass-like form factor that connects via USB-C to a smartphone, computing processor, laptop, or desktop. It weighs half a pound and uses two layers for full-color imaging, which offers a relatively narrow 30-degree field of view, but much cheaper than regular materials. In fact, DigiLens believes that products like Crystal AR can sell for $ 500 or about five to 10 times less than competing solutions on the market, such as Magic Leap One Creator Edition or Microsoft HoloLens. ”
Meanwhile, DigiLens solution for car companies can create a holographic screen about half a meter in length 320 millimeters or large enough for a car windshield, but compact enough to fit under the dashboard. The company reports that such displays can generate colored arrows to tell drivers where to turn further so that they do not have to look at their phones.
DigiLens does not intend to produce and sell AR-devices independently. Instead, he intends to license his technology in various industries. To this end, he is already creating nanomaterials for transparent augmented reality (AR) displays for several undisclosed clients.
DigiLens has competition in TruLife optics, WaveOptics, and Akonia holography in Colorado, the latter of which has spent a decade (and $ 100 million) unsuccessfully exploring holographic storage before turning to displays. For its part, WaveOptics raised $ 26 million last December to prepare for the launch of its low-cost AR hardware line.
But Pickett expects that products incorporating DigiLens technology will outrun most – if not all – others on the market. It is aimed at the end of 2019, and additional releases are expected in 2020 and 2022.
“We are pleased to work with DigiLens, as they continue to focus on providing a number of fast-growing markets with patented holographic waveguide displays,” said Universal Display Corporation President and CEO Stephen V. Abramson, who will become an advisor to the board of directors on investment.
DigiLens reports that it is currently working with licensed waveguide manufacturer Young Optics Taiwan; ODM and electronics supplier Malata China; and the manufacturer of Pico Sekonix displays from Korea, whose modules use Texas Instruments DLP Pico. Thanks to a strategic partnership with Mitsubishi Chemical, he is developing plastic material for “highly refractive” waveguide displays, which he expects will be lighter, cheaper and “almost unbreakable.”
“We are building our infrastructure, so we can go to several markets at the same time,” said Pickett VentureBeat in a previous interview.
VRcue will keep you updated on the latest news AR updates.