Immersive Computing Coming as Envelop VR Closes $5.5 Million Funding Round

by Joe Durbin • January 14th, 2016

Immersive technology startup Envelop VR closed a series A fundraising round at 5.5 million. Envelop last reported on the status of the round in October. At that time, the company had raised $4 million in investments led by the juggernaut Madrona Venture Group.

Madrona announced last summer it was introducing a $300 million investment fund targeting information technology which includes VR startups like Envelop. The jump from $4 to $5.5 million was made possible in large part from a donation from GV (formerly Google Ventures).

Including the angel and seed rounds, Envelop has brought in a total of $7.5 million since its founding in July 2014. Madrona remains the company’s lead investor.

The tech commanding all of this investment is Envelop’s “immersive computing” platform. The software creates virtual, interactive displays of a computer’s processes and displays them in the fully interactive 3D space of an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive headset. This may sound similar to a virtual desktop system, but Envelop describes its product as a “virtual shell” instead. Envelop’s Vice President Of Marketing and Communications Angela Gamba explained the differences to me in a phone interview.

“The VR shell enables you to use your computer in VR. You can access YouTube or a word processor or your Gmail account or what have you. You can place individual virtual screens for each program and move the windows up and around as you see fit,” Gamba said.

Gamba said she’s used the software to have as many as six virtual monitors at her disposal at a time. Envelop’s overall goal is to make people more productive and efficient.

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The system requires a computer, keyboard and an outside camera (or in the case of the Vive, the built-in outward-facing camera). The system then creates an immersive computing display in which the user’s hands and keyboard are rendered alongside all of the programs they need to run. Gamba says her company’s product will be especially useful for developers to build software while immersed in virtual reality.

“By using Envelop, devs will no longer have to exit VR to work on VR. Taking a headset on and off is cumbersome, but in our world digital creation can happen seamlessly in a digital world,” said Gamba.

Envelop VR will be demoing its immersive computing experience at the San Francisco Game Developer’s Conference in March. The company is currently planning a public release that coincides with the commercial launches of Rift and Vive, which are March and April, respectively.