- Google’s venture capital arm, Google Ventures, led a $14.5 million investment round in UK startup Blue Vision Labs.
- Blue Vision Labs is working on shared augmented reality technology to let people use AR together.
- The company sees uses of its technology in gaming, navigation, enterprise, and self-driving cars.
Google Ventures led a $14.5 million (£10.3 million) round of funding in a UK startup that has created technology to allow lots of people to use augmented reality (AR) at the same time.
Blue Vision Labs has operated in stealth since it started in 2011, but the company is now detailing its product. It works on the premise of “shared AR,” meaning that multiple people using their smartphones see the same augmented reality environment.
You can think of it as taking “Pokémon Go,” the viral augmented reality game, and putting together lots of players’ experiences.
“‘Pokémon Go,’ the application, showed a huge potential for augmented reality games,” said Blue Vision Labs CEO Peter Ondruska. “And what we are doing is to allow [developers] to take this to a new level.”
A demonstration video produced by the company shows how its shared AR environments work for lots of different people using different devices, unlike current AR apps:
Blue Vision Labs isn’t making any of its own apps for the shared AR technology. Instead, it’s starting to work with developers to give them access to it.
The company has raised a total of $17 million (£12.1 million) in funding, including an earlier round of seed funding. Existing investors including Accel, Horizons Ventures, and SV Angel also participated in its most recent round of funding.
Google Ventures’ investment in Blue Vision Labs was lead by partner Tom Hulme. He told Business Insider in an interview that he found out about Blue Vision Labs from people in London’s technology scene, as well as academic contacts. “Often with those two scenes you’ll triangulate on a company, and that’s what happened in this case,” he said.
One example that Hulme felt showed off Blue Vision’s technology was navigation apps. “If I wanted to actually go and meet James Cook who was sat at a festival with an unspecific GPS position, it would very difficult to find you,” he said.
“These guys unlocked that, and actually it’s reciprocal, so you could actually see me walking towards you as well. Now, you can scale that up indefinitely and it enables you to manage games at scale with many people.”
Hulme said that augmented reality is an area that Google Ventures is looking at “deeply” for further investments.
“We’re now able to use mobile devices to deliver AR in a way that you still can’t really do, even with brilliant projects like Google Cardboard, we can’t do with VR as of yet. I actually think the distribution, the channel is there for AR,” Hulme said.
NOW WATCH: [developers]