Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but it is the third round of funding for DigiLens. The investment will let Sunnyvale, California-based DigiLens continue to make quality holographic waveguide displays for global automobile, enterprise, consumer, avionics and military brands.
Previously, DigiLens raised $25 million in May from Germany’s Continental, a tech company interested in automotive applications for holographic displays. At that point, the company had raised $60 million.
“We are thrilled to have Niantic and MCHC join Continental AG and our other strategic investors,” said Chris Pickett, DigiLens CEO, in a statement. “These investments 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.”
DigiLens is creating proprietary nanomaterials and core technologies for transparent, augmented reality (AR) displays for several global industries. The new relationship with Mitsubishi Chemical will result in first-of-its-kind plastic material for waveguide displays that will be lighter, less expensive and nearly unbreakable, which is especially important for eye-glass thin smart glasses and displays for smart helmets.
Niantic makes consumer AR gaming experiences with titles such as Pokemon Go, Ingress, Ingress Prime, and the forthcoming Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. Niantic CEO John Hanke has made no secret that he wants to help push augmented reality technologies forward.
“Niantic has spent years transforming the world into a game board,” said Hanke, in a statement. “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 characters and game play to be seamlessly woven into the real world, supported by compelling safe and lightweight plastic AR displays.”
Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings makes advanced materials, and it created Silicon Valley-based Diamond Edge Ventures in July 2018 to engage with startup companies and the venture community worldwide.
“We could not have found a better first investment than DigiLens, as it demonstrates how MCHC’s advanced technology can help create a new market through strategic partnership with a world technology leader.” said Patrick Suel, president of Diamond Edge Ventures, in a statement. “Through this investment, we also become an active participant in an AR/VR technology ecosystem projected to have broad impact across [industries], and we will accelerate adoption of a new computing platform that will benefit users worldwide”
The company has developed a photopolymer material and holographic copy process to manufacture precision diffractive optics by printing rather than traditional expensive methods like precision etching. The resultant eyeglass display has higher efficiency and wider field of view at a low cost.
DigiLens has formed strategic partnerships with other HUD and AR market leaders including Panasonic, Sony, Rockwell Collins, Continental and Foxconn.