Everyone knows them as the creators of the AR world phenomenon Pokémon GO. While on the quest to popularize Augmented Reality, even a blockbuster AR game doesn’t satisfy Niantic Inc., who is on a mission to transform the world into a video game. The company recently joined the investment round for DigiLens, with the aim to make DigiLens AR displays safer, cheaper, lighter, and better. Along with Mitsubishi, the parties hope to make DigiLens waveguide displays apt for widespread consumer use.
Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings also joined the round for what is a huge injection of funds and talent into the DigiLens project. No wonder its CEO, Chris Pickett, is ’thrilled’ to have the duo as partners. DigiLens AR displays, expensive as they are, represent the best attempt of holographic Augmented Reality to date. Running on their own, proprietary materials and technology, DigiLens are best suited for enterprise, military, automotive, and aerospace use.
But that is about to change with the recent round of funding coming their way. ‘These investments’, DigiLens CEO argues, ’will strengthen the ecosystem of support for DigiLens, its licensees and their customers for the manufacturing of large volumes of displays at consumer price points that cannot be matched by other technologies’. It means that the future AR products that run on DigiLens will be a lot cheaper and ready for consumers to take them up.
How is that to be achieved? Diamond Edge Ventures, a Silicon Valley offshoot of Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings, was established in July 2018, with the aim to invest in startups worldwide. ‘We could not have found a better first investment than DigiLens’, DEV President Patrick Suel, ‘as it demonstrates how MCHC’s advanced technology can help us create a new market through strategic partnership with a world technology leader’. Mitsubishi is behind the investment, a company renowned for producing high-tech materials. Its end of the deal includes to create a plastic material for DigiLens AR displays to make them cheaper, lighter, and virtually unbreakable.
Mitsubishi is not alone in this. Niantic Inc., better known as the Pokémon GO creators, have chipped in too. The company that has put Augmented Reality out there, now wants to step up their game. Niantic sees DigiLens AR displays as their window into new game hits played the world around. ‘Niantic has spent years transforming the world into a game board’, Niantic Inc. CEO John Hanke. It’s the Mitsubishi entering that lured Niantic to join strengths: ‘DigiLens is on an amazing path, in collaboration with MCHC, to bring more affordable and accessible hardware experiences to players around the world, making it possible for character and game play to be seamlessly woven into the real world, supported by compelling safe and lightweight plastic AR displays’.
It is with partnerships like these that the future is made with. This investment round is the most important step towards making AR glasses what they should be. Having affordable, lightweight DigiLens AR displays at their side, producers will have little problems to usher in a new era of consumer AR glasses.