Today In Funding: $42M For Startups Tackling AR

Two startups working with augmented reality in very different ways scored capital today.

First up, WaveOptics picked up a $26 million Series C led by Octopus Ventures. Founded in 2014, the company designs and manufactures lenses for AR wearables. It has raised a known total of $41.6 million, according to Crunchbase.

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The U.K.-based startup’s website displays animated pictures of individuals wearing slim and sleek AR glasses– the kind of technology that we expected out of AR’s rise but have so far not seen. Magic Leap, one of the leaders in AR and VR in terms of funding waited for $2.3 billion in venture capital before it revealed its alien-like product to the masses in August. According to its press release, that company is working with partners developing AR and VR products, and it’s looking to scale to Asia and the U.S.

Second, Israel-based TechSee picked up $16 million in a round led by Scale Venture Partners. The company’s previous investors, including Salesforce Ventures, also participated in the funding. TechSee has raised a known total of over $23 million since its inception in 2015, according to Crunchbase.

So what does it do? It’s not an AR startup in the traditional sense. TechSee isn’t making glasses or helping us videotape a T-Rex destroying our coworker’s desk in the office. Instead, the company aims to create a practical application for augmented reality and artificial intelligence by applying those technological terms, which have plagued the world of tech journalists recently, to customer support.

Basically, it’s aiming to help customer service representatives solve the kinds of problems my grandmother calls me about on a weekly basis, like how to properly set up an AppleTV or cable box.

Of course, TechSee and WaveOptics aren’t the only startups working on or with augmented reality. As mentioned above, Magic Leap raised a massive amount for its own efforts, meanwhile other companies in the space have also raised venture capital. Take a look:

While it’s easy to get caught up in the hype surrounding technology like AR, VR, artificial intelligence, and even self-driving, we are still a ways off from a reality where robots do our work for us, driverless cars rule the streets, and where we can go to the office remotely and seamlessly. While hardware startups like Magic Leap and WaveOptics look to that future, startups like TechSee are scaling the vision back, taking the kind of technology that currently exists and applying it to problems that we already have. For investors, those kinds of returns may be more tangible too.

Illustration Credit: Li-Anne Dias