RealWear Closes $17 Million Series A For Industrial AR Headgear

Today, RealWear formally announced the successful close of its Series A round. According to SEC filings and an announcement from the company, RealWear closed just over $17 million in venture funding earlier this month in a Series A round led by Columbia Ventures, an investment firm based in Vancouver, WA.

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According to a spokesperson, one of the other major investors in RealWear’s Series A is RealMax, a Chinese augmented reality (AR) company. RealMax is backed by State Development & Investment Corporation (SDIC), the largest sovereign wealth fund in China. Starting in 2018, SDIC began direct investments into technology companies outside of China, and through the investment from RealMax, RealWear is the first US company to join SDIC’s portfolio.

SEC filings and a company spokesperson say that RealWear has yet to raise an additional $3 million to close out a $20 million round, which is expected to close in the next two months.

The company, now based out of the Fort Vancouver Artillery Barracks in Washington state, moved its headquarters to the Pacific Northwest from Silicon Valley in 2017.

The company intends to use this funding to accelerate production of its HMT-1 augmented reality (AR) headset. The $2,000 Android-powered headset is a designed to deliver a hands-free computing experience using augmented reality and voice control. The “ultra-rugged” device is geared toward noisy, rough-and-tumble industrial worksites, such as those in the petrochemicals, telecommunications, utilities, and manufacturing sectors.

Ken Peterson, CEO of Columbia Ventures, said in a statement that “after seeing the HMT-1 device at work in industrial facilities, it was clear that it is the only device which delivers on the AR and wearable promise for industry today.”

“RealWear’s vision is compelling to us, with the potential to transform how work gets done in industry, empowering industrial knowledge workers with real-time information, without encumbering their hands,” he continued. “RealWear has proven that it has the experience and ambition to make AR and wearable solutions function in actual industrial use cases, and an unlimited number of other uses to explore.”

Columbia Ventures invested $8 million in the round, according to information Columbia Ventures’ CFO Susan Cruz provided to The Columbian – a local newspaper for Clark County, Washington – in early February.

RealWear’s cofounder and CEO Andy Lowery, a retired US Navy Lieutenant Commander and one-time business area chief engineer of electronic warfare systems at Raytheon, said in the announcement, “RealWear is committed to delivering innovative solutions that connect the frontline worker to the enterprise to perform at his or her best.”

According to a statement provided by the company, the HMT-1 is “the first and only AR-enabled wearable device” to provide remote mentor video calling, document navigation, guided workflow, mobile forms, and industrial IoT data visualization. The device allows users to operate and interact with tools and equipment through voice in ten languages, “even if climbing a scaffold or tower, in extremely noisy, dusty, or even extremely dangerous environments,” according to the company.

Since its inception in 2016, RealWear has shipped thousands of units to more than two-hundred customers. According to aforementioned reporting from The Columbian, RealWear is testing the HMT-1 with “marquee” companies based in Washington state like Amazon and Boeing, as well as Tesla and Walmart.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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