Augmented reality gaming startup castAR is getting a $15 million investment from Andy Rubin’s startup incubator Playground Global and the original seed investors. Rubin co-founded Android before selling to Google. He left last Google October to found the “an incubator for startups interested in building technology hardware products.”
While Altspace and WEVR both got $10 million investments last month, those are software companies while castAR makes augmented reality glasses that would likely need more money to prove out. Overall, though, it appears early rounds of investment are increasing in size in small but talent-filled mixed reality startups.
Previously known as Technical Illusions, castAR began as a Kickstarter that successfully reached its goal in less than 48 hours and ultimately raised more than $1 million from 3,863 backers in Nov. 2013. Co-founders Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson left Valve Software in 2013 where they had been working on mixed reality solutions. They originally planned to ship the augmented reality glasses in September 2014 and noted the investment on Kickstarter with the following statement:
What does this mean for Kickstarter? Delivery! We remain committed, as we always have, to giving our Kickstarter backers a high quality product and experience. Of course with only nine people and an ambitious engineering plan, it clearly has taken us longer than we had planned, but among other things, this investment will make sure we complete the Kickstarter in the next several months.
They are now working toward “a 2016 commercial launch” with developer kits available “in the near future”. CastAR uses two miniature projectors on each pair of glasses and a special surface on a tabletop or wall. The system allows multiple people, each wearing a pair of the glasses, to see a Star Wars-like holographic scene.
“They’re the only company I found to be simplifying the utility and application of augmented and virtual reality technology into a fun, accessible, and portable system that will wow kids and adults alike,” Rubin is quoted as saying in the press release.
From the announcement:
The new round of funding will be used to drive forward business and continue product development efforts as the company looks to drive adoption among tabletop and interactive game developers. castAR is also focusing its attention on attracting engineering, business, and design talent as it works towards a 2016 commercial launch.