Augmented reality optics maker WaveOptics has just infused its operations with a fresh round of funding to facilitate its objective of bringing consumer-grade smartglasses at a $600 price point to market in 2019.
On Tuesday, the London-based company announced that it has closed a Series C round of funding totaling about $26 million, which will enable the company to scale operations for mass production of its waveguide displays for AR wearables and expand to international markets, including the US and Asia.
"We have made excellent progress over the last year with our high performing, manufacturable, and versatile waveguides. We are now working with a wide range of leading global OEMs and ODMs as they ramp up the development of their products," said David Hayes, WaveOptics CEO, in a statement. "The market is gathering pace, with AR wearables expected to become available in volume by the end of 2019."
Octopus Ventures, already one of WaveOptics' largest shareholders, led the round, with participation from existing shareholders IP Group, Robert Bosch Venture Capital and Gobi Partners and new investors Goertek and Optimas Capital Partners. Octopus Ventures, Gobi Partners, and Bosch Venture Capital also contributed to a Series B round of about $15 million in July 2017.
"We are delighted to have led the first stage of this funding round, backing the fantastic team at WaveOptics as we believe the business is on track to become a leading UK-headquartered global tech business," said Simon King, principal at Octopus Ventures. "WaveOptics has now established its position as the key optical technology provider to its global customers and partners. They are unique in their ability to build AR hardware solutions at scale to address the numerous opportunities in the emerging AR ecosystem."
Last month, WaveOptics unveiled a partnership with one of its new investors, Goertek, an original design manufacturer (ODM) whose clients include electronics giants Google, Microsoft, and Sony, among other companies with AR ambitions. Under the agreement, Goertek will manufacture WaveOptics waveguides and prepare smartglasses reference designs featuring the displays.
"Securing Goertek as a shareholder is a key strategic development for us and a major endorsement of our technology. Their global market position will significantly expand our reach," said Hayes. "We have seen a recent surge in interest from potential shareholders and strategic partners and anticipate closing further funding in the coming months."
Between the agreement with Goertek, another partnership with EV Group to provide stamping equipment and manufacturing processes, and the new round of funding, WaveOptics is poised to bring smartglasses with AR content displayed by its waveguides, to the world in 2019.
While companies like Apple have opted to acquire their own AR display technology, other companies with smartglasses ambitions may look to display makers like WaveOptics, Avegant, DigiLens, Lumus, and others. Due to its particular style of waveguides, which promise to offer a wider field-of-view in a slim form factor, and its expanded production capacity, WaveOptics is positioned as an attractive option as the smartglasses race heats up.