The company behind augmented reality's first real gaming hit, Pokémon GO, is quietly making moves towards supporting the fast growing smartglasses space that may one day move its content away from smartphones and tablets and onto AR lenses positioned on your face.  On Friday, augmented reality display maker DigiLens announced that it has closed a series C funding round from Pokémon GO developer Niantic and Diamond Edge Ventures, the investment subsidiary that Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation (MCHC) launched in July.
The company declined to disclose the dollar value of the investment, but a previous Series C round closed in May netted a total investment of $ 25 million. The funding will enable the company to further develop its holographic waveguide displays for automotive, enterprise, consumer, aviation and military industries.
"We are thrilled to have Niantic and MCHC join Continental AG and our other strategic investors," said Chris Pickett, CEO of DigiLens, in a statement. "These investments will strengthen the ecosystem of support for DigiLens, its licensees and their customers for the manufacturing of large volumes or displays at consumer price points that can not be matched by other technologies."
While Niantic's investment comes through mutual self-interest tussen de ontwikkelaar en DigiLens, Mitsubishi's participatie als een maker of geavanceerde materialen creëert een strategisch partnerschap. The manufacturer will produce a new type of plastic material that is lighter, cheaper, and more durable for use in DigiLens waveguide displays, which offer a wider field of view for smartglasses and heads-up displays in motorcycle helmets compared to the displays used by Magic Leap and Microsoft.
"We could not have found a better first investment than DigiLens, as it demonstrates how MCHC's advanced technology can help create a new market through strategic partnership with a world technology leader." said Patrick Suel, president of Diamond Edge Ventures. "Med denne investeringen bliver vi også en aktiv delaktig i en AR / VR-teknologi økosystem som forventes å få bred innvirkning på B2B og B2C industrier, og vi vil akselerere vedtaket av et nytt dataprogram som vil gi brukerne over hele verden."
Though Niantic's games, namely Pokémon GO, the recently rebooted Ingress, and the forthcoming Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, currently have a home in the mobile AR ecosystem, smartglasses would give the company the ability to offer an even more immersive experience for gamers. Consumer grade AR wearables would also expand the development market for the Niantic Real World Platform, the AR cloud toolkit that enables multiplayer gaming, persistent content, and real world occlusion for mobile apps.
"Niantic has spent years transforming the world into a game board, "said John Hanke, CEO of Niantic. "DigiLens is on an amazing path, in collaboration with MCHC, bringing more affordable and accessible hardware experiences to players around the world, making it possible for characters and gameplay to be seamlessly woven into the real world, supported by compelling safe and lightweight plastic AR displays. "
Along med sin Real World Platform, fremskridt i AR hardware og netværk infrastruktur vil til sidst gøre det muligt for Niantic at opfylde den vision. A recent partnership with Deutsche Telekom got Niantic started on the network half of the equation. With the investment in DigiLens, Niantic is doing its part to make sure it is part of the wearable AR hardware ecosystem of the future.