WaveOptics raises £12m to make augmented reality mainstream

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AR can enhance the world around us (Source: WaveOptics)

An Oxfordshire startup working on innovative technology to bring augmented reality to life has raised fresh funding from investors.

Existing backers Touchstone Innovations, a tech commercialisation group, Octopus Ventures and Robert Bosch Venture Capital (RBVC), the corporate venture arm of the German electronics firm, have put £12m in to WaveOptics, along with new Gobi Ventures, a new investor from China.

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AR gained attention with the launch of the Pokemon Go gaming app last year, but it has not yet become mainstream beyond the one hit wonder.

However, analysts expect the industry, along with virtual reality, to be worth $143.3bn by 2020. And several of the biggest tech firms are working on AR and VR technology, with Apple bringing ARKit to the soon-to-be-released iOS 11. It's expected to spur app makers to create more AR-based apps for the iPhone. 

"WaveOptics is reinventing the AR market by developing a series of new AR display tech that enables a wider field of view and brighter full colour images - a unique combination in today’s market," said the startup's chairman Martin Harriman.

"This funding round further accelerates development of our industry-leading technologies and enables us to launch programmes in new markets and territories. We are excited about the team of investors we have on board who share our vision."

Touchstone's director of technology investment Robert Bahns said: "WaveOptics has made significant technical and commercial progress since the investment round we led in October 2015, with very positive feedback from industry on its initial beta products. This new funding will allow the company to complete its product development and position itself as a leader and key technology enabler of highly compelling AR experiences.”

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Aim-listed Touchstone is currently the target of a hostile takeover by FTSE 250 firm IP Group, and was spun out of Imperial College and formerly known as Imperial Innovations. Woodford Investment, Lansdowne Partners and Invesco control 75 per cent of Touchstone between them.

Previous investors before this series B include fellow AR startup Blippar and was part of the Pitch@Palace startup event.