A London-based start-up has come out of stealth mode to reveal it has raised $14.5 million in Series A funding, led by Google’s venture capital arm. The start-up, named Blue Vision Labs, creates augmented reality (AR) technology that can enable shared AR experiences. AR is when...
A London-based start-up has come out of stealth mode to reveal it has raised $14.5 million in Series A funding, led by Google’s venture capital arm.
AR is when computer-generated images are superimposed over a user’s view of the real world, which can enhance the perception of reality. The most famous examples of AR are the Snapchat dancing hotdog and the widely popular Pokemon Go smartphone game.
At the moment, current AR apps allow only singular experiences, when one user can interact with the AR content on their smartphone, but other people cannot join in and share the same experience.
However, Blue Vision Labs has developed the necessary technology, a cloud-based computer vision technology, that overcomes these limits and allows people to share AR experiences across multiple devices.
This has the potential to completely change how we view and use AR in the world.
“We believe that AR is the technology that will transform how technology works and how people interact with one another and within their environment,” explains Peter Ondruska, CEO and co-founder at Blue Vision Labs.
“You can build shared games, navigation, or transform retail. It has a lot of potential.”
Blue Vision has created this cloud technology and is now making it available to developers who can build applications on top of it. One way it could be used is in navigation apps.
Instead of following a blue dot on an abstract map in Google Maps, when using AR on a smartphone blue directional lines could be superimposed over a person’s real view of the street.
“These are things that are already really useful and so we hope that this kind of experience will become an everyday part of people’s lives,” says Ondruska.
The early-access problem will see developers building AR experiences in cities including London, San Francisco and New York City.
“We want to bring AR experiences to people and starting with cities is one of the most relevant use cases,” says Ondruska.
But AR isn’t just limited to this. Blue Vision Labs hopes that its work will provide a digital copy of the real world, which could make robots and driverless cars safer and more capable.
Coming out of stealth mode
The start-up was launched by five friends, Ondruska, Lukas Platinsky, Hugo Grimmett, Andrej Pancik and Bryan Baum, who originally met at Oxford back in 2011. After working on PhDs, or other companies, the five came back together in London in 2016 to create Blue Vision Labs.
However, they chose to remain in stealth mode for two years, not revealing details of what they were doing.
“It is a really difficult technical problem to turn an entire city into augmented reality. What we wanted to do is solve the actual problem first and then deliver an impactful product.”
Now that product is ready, the start-up has raised $14.5 million from GV, formerly Google Ventures, as well as Accel and Horizons Ventures.
As part of the investment, Tom Hulme, General Partner at GV, will be joining the board. Hulme said: “We are excited to invest in one of the best technical teams in London; a team that has a working product that can localise, persist and share in real time with a single smartphone lens.
“We look forward to seeing all of the new applications in augmented reality and autonomous vehicles that this unlocks.”
Ondruska says the funding will be used to double the size of the current team in London, from 25 to 50.
“We’re only just scratching the surface of what our technology could bring to countless industries and sectors, from gaming to self-driving car navigation and today’s investment brings us closer to realising that potential.”
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