Company emerges from stealth with $2.6M in seed funding from Lux Capital and Seven Seas Partners
March 27, 2017 – San Francisco, CA – Lightform, the company developing the first computer made for projected augmented reality, emerged from stealth today with $2.6 million in seed funding from Lux Capital and Seven Seas Partners, with participation from several prominent angel investors and the National Science Foundation.
Lightform is a computer and 3D scanning device that, when connected to any video projector, lets you quickly scan complex scenes and turn any object into a screen. It’s augmented reality without the headset.
“While at Disney Imagineering eight years ago, I saw a demo of projected AR that was the most compelling VR/AR demo I’ve ever seen,” said Brett Jones, Lightform Co-Founder & CEO. “There was an entire enchanted forest set covered in projection, with lightning and rain, butterflies fluttering across the scene, and a running waterfall. My co-worker threw his ID into the waterfall, and I swore that the ID was wet. The problem was the demo cost millions and only Disney could build it. That’s when I knew I wanted to bring this technology everywhere.”
The core technology is known as projection mapping and is a form of augmented reality. The Lightform team combines years of projection mapping experience, ranging from large scale entertainment experiences to PhD research experiments. They’ve innovated in projection mapping at Disney Imagineering, designed software behind Bot & Dolly’s Box, and created immersive AR prototypes IllumiRoom and RoomAlive at Microsoft Research. They also run the most popular blog on projection mapping, which features community submissions from around the world.
Lightform uses advanced computer vision to eliminate complexity in the projection mapping process. “We believe projected light is inherently more interesting than a flat screen because it can be overlaid on the existing environment,” said Phil Reyneri, Design Director at Lightform. “This gives designers the opportunity to seamlessly blend digital content with existing materials and structures. We want to democratize the medium so it can be used anywhere across film, art, education, cultural exhibits, events, signage, home entertainment, weddings, seasonal decor, theater, dance, and more.”Lightform supports video streaming and real-time shaders, but unlike the founders’ past work, does not provide real-time depth data. “Lightform connects to any projector via HDMI and projects a series of patterns. Those patterns are recognized by the onboard camera, and used to generate a point cloud and 3D model. As opposed to realtime depth cameras like the Kinect — which provide comparably low-res point clouds — Lightform generates a high resolution mesh in under a minute. This makes it suitable for precise, pixel-level alignment,” says Brett Jones, Co-Founder & CEO
“Lightform bridges the gap between fiction and reality by blending the two in a single physical form,” said Bilal Zuberi, Partner at Lux Capital. “It brings digital creativity into the physical world, enabling all surfaces to potentially come alive in a magical way. I’m excited about this team because they’re making projection mapping accessible to everyone, from artists to businesses to consumers.”
“Lightform brings wonder to everyday life,” said Ivy Li, Partner at Seven Seas. “Amazingly striking effects are unveiled right in front of our eyes with just a simple click. We are honored and extremely proud to have the chance to work with a company that inspires such imagination and innovation.”
Lightform creates simple, powerful tools that connect real and digital worlds. We’re combining years of experience in computer vision, augmented reality, and hardware design to create the world’s first computer for projected AR.