Palo Alto-based VR/AR startup GridRaster recently announced a nearly $2 million seed funding round to strengthen and develop their mobile VR/AR rendering infrastructure. GridRaster claims to deliver high-fidelity graphics at 10 times the performance compared to standalone mobile platforms, a feat accomplished by a method of cloud computing optimisation called ‘edge computing’.
Offloading the rendering of real-time graphics from power-limited mobile devices to the cloud from can provide major performance advantages, but at the expense of latency – an essential factor to minimise in VR/AR applications. Edge computing is an evolving paradigm in cloud computing optimisation, where the typical latency problems associated with the cloud can be mitigated. According to the press release provided to Road to VR, GridRaster leverages this technology “to re-define the network and compute stack at multiple layers – device, network and edge cloud.”
VR/AR devices using mobile chipsets are expected to continue as the largest sector over the next few years, and while CPU and GPU performance will improve significantly, power and heat will remain limiting factors. In his keynote at Oculus Connect 4 in October, John Carmack lamented the end of Moore’s Law, warning that PC performance “will never get to a mobile platform” and that developers should be prepared to “embrace the grind” of eternal mobile optimisation. GridRaster’s edge cloud infrastructure may offer a potential alternative – or at least additional tool – for extracting greater performance from mobile platforms.
Moore’s Law showing exponential increase in microprocessor transistors, image courtesy Wgsimon
As explained in the press release, GridRaster “provides the underlying infrastructure to distribute and manage loads across servers, dynamically optimizing network bandwidth and intelligently reducing latency to enable compelling immersive experiences,” claiming to offer “high fidelity graphics at ultra-low latency” with a 10 times increase in performance over the mobile platform alone, and easy integration into popular engines like Unity.
“GridRaster’s software technology focus helps further advance augmented reality and virtual reality experiences by off-loading processing to remote servers and clouds to support real-time collaboration of complex 3D models with significantly reduced power requirements on mobile devices,” said John Haddick, CTO at Osterhout Design Group, one of the select group of GridRaster customers named in the press release. “It is an exciting technology application for ODG smartglasses as we work with enterprise customers who want to create and collaborate in mixed reality or build immersive 3D interactive experiences. We are impressed by what their software can accomplish in a wide-range of mobile environments.”
The near $2 million funding round consists of investments from several venture capital firms including Lumia Capital, Pipeline Capital, Exfinity Ventures, NextStar Partners, Unshackled Ventures, and Explorer Group. Istvan Jonyer, Principal at NexStar Partners made perhaps the boldest claim about the transformative potential of the technology:
“We see the future of VR being powered by the mobile phone, which everyone has in their pockets,” says Joyner. “GridRaster’s technology will turn these handsets into high-end VR HMDs at an attractive price point to enable high-end enterprise and consumer VR/AR experiences at scale.”
“We have just begun to see capabilities this technology can bring to the VR/AR space,” said Rishi Ranjan, founder and CEO of GridRaster. “We have proven out our core technology working with great partners. Now, with new capital, we will work toward strengthening our development team and maturing the product for specific enterprise and customer use cases as we continue to establish GridRaster as a standard and platform of choice for cloud-powered high-end VR/AR.”