AxonVR™, the pioneer in advanced haptic technology and creator of the HaptX™ Platform, announced today that it secured $5.8M in a recently-completed seed funding round. This represents the largest investment to date in a virtual reality haptics company. The round was led by NetEase (NASDAQ:NTES), a leading internet technology company in China, and Dawn Patrol Ventures, and includes former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo.
“HaptX delivers very realistic touch sensations, and will enable a new class of experiences in VR”
“Touch is one of the most fundamental ways we connect with the physical world,” said Bill Pang, Vice President of Corporate Development at NetEase. “AxonVR’s HaptX Platform brings realistic touch to digital experiences, transforming the way we design, play, and interact.”
“We envision a world in which virtual experiences are indistinguishable from real life,” said Jake Rubin, Founder and CEO of AxonVR. “This funding enables us to deliver HaptX technology to our first enterprise partners. It’s a big step towards achieving our vision.”
HaptX is a haptic textile that simulates lifelike touch, allowing users to feel the physical properties of virtual objects. HaptX can bring the sense of touch to any surface. The lightweight, flexible material can be applied to wearables and other form factors. HaptX technology has broad enterprise uses in location-based entertainment, training and simulation, and design and manufacturing.
“HaptX delivers very realistic touch sensations, and will enable a new class of experiences in VR,” said Zvi Greenstein, General Manager of Consumer VR at NVIDIA Corporation. “It’s a great example of how our physics engine, NVIDIA’s PhysX, can be used to enable physically simulated touch sensations to deliver realism in VR.”
Additional participants in AxonVR’s seed round included The Virtual Reality Company, Executive Vice President of Walt Disney Imagineering Jon Snoddy, Keeler Investment Group, and Digital Kitchen Founder and Chairman Paul Matthaeus. These investments add to a $1.2M friends and family round completed in 2014, bringing AxonVR’s total funding to $7M.
Examples of industries that will benefit from haptic technology in VR and AR include design and manufacturing, training and simulation, and location-based entertainment:
Design and manufacturing: Virtual reality provides CAD/CAM users with a compelling new medium for 3D content creation. Today, designers and engineers can’t physically interact with a product until after they build a prototype. With HaptX, designers can feel the 3D models they create throughout the product design process. HaptX enables professionals to swiftly prototype concepts, experiencing each with unprecedented realism. AxonVR’s HaptX technology will transform the design and manufacturing process by combining the precision of CAD software with the hands-on intimacy of sculpting clay.
Training and simulation: AxonVR offers a platform for realistic training and simulation for defense, industrial, and medical applications. HaptX technology enables a new level of authenticity, safety, and cost effectiveness for combat, surgical and workforce training.
Location-based entertainment: AxonVR will add a new dimension to entertainment experiences at theme parks, arcades, multiplexes, and other location-based entertainment venues. With HaptX, players can jump into their favorite movies or games and join the action. Imagine being able to run, jump, fly, and cartwheel through limitless virtual worlds. Players can reach out and touch their favorite characters, and interact with their favorite fantasy universe with lifelike realism. Full-body, interactive immersion is the future of gaming and entertainment.
Founded in 2012 by CEO Jake Rubin and Lead Engineer Dr. Robert Crockett, AxonVR brings virtual worlds to life through the power of realistic touch. AxonVR is a team of engineers, designers, and storytellers based in Seattle, WA (headquarters) and San Luis Obispo, CA.