CastAR casts off for the perhaps the last time

Subject: General Tech | June 27, 2017 - 01:13 PM |
Tagged: Jeri Ellsworth, Rick Johnson, CastAR, augmented reality

The brain child of fomer Valve employees Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson, CastAR, is no more.  They were part of the original team at Valve which helped create SteamVR, their focus was on augmented reality applications which Valve eventually decided to drop and Jeri and Rick were allowed to keep the IP which they helped develop.  They went on to launch a very successful Kickstarter to help develop their technology and when they eventually received $15 million in investments they chose to return the money invested by their Kickstarter backers; a very different reaction than others have had.

Unfortunately they have not been able to continue to attract investment for their AR products and according to the information Polygon garnered, they have significantly downsized the number of employees and may be seeking to sell their technology.  This is exceptionally bad news as their first set of AR goggles were set to launch later this year.  The market seems far more willing to invest in VR than it does AR, which presents a large hurdle for smaller businesses to succeed.  Hopefully we will hear happier news about Jeri, her team, and CastAR in the future but for now it looks rather bleak.

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"In 2013, Technical Illusions got its start with a hugely successful Kickstarter, netting just north of one million dollars. This success drew the attention of investors and eventually led to a funding round of $15 million. With this success, Technical Illusions decided to refund the backers of its Kickstarter."

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Source: Polygon

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June 27, 2017 | 02:48 PM - Posted by Xebec

This is very unfortunate as I think this is a great technology. That said, Jeri left a German company hanging many years ago by not finishing a project she was paid for:

The C-One marks the biggest loss in iComp's company history. It was meant to be a C64 replacement, but Jeri Ellsworth - the original designer of the board - never delivered the cores that she had been paid for.

June 27, 2017 | 06:55 PM - Posted by Jeremy Hellstrom

That goes back a-ways, forgot she was involved in that.

June 28, 2017 | 02:45 AM - Posted by psuedonymous

They probably found that they had no high-margin industrial market for their Head-Mounted Projector, as the industrial HMP market is already saturated with existing products (this is an old, old design idea for AR), and the consumer market moved rapidly to optical passthrough HMDs and Mediated-Reality HMDs that did not have the drawback of needing to place retroreflective surfaces into a dedicated environment.

They really needed to pivot their design from projection-focussed to self-contained: they already had a mirrored 'clip on' collimator that could have turned the device into a very high field-of-view collimated HMD with minimal optical aberrations (advantage of reflective collimation over refractive) that could also allow optical passthrough, but either they did not push on this hard enough or their chosen microprojector design could not achieve the update rates required to counter the drawbacks of a colour-sequential display for VR.

June 28, 2017 | 08:32 AM - Posted by Gunbuster

I think it was more the hot-glued prototypes, marketing video shot in someones living room with everyone wearing flannel and a random cat.

Teams level of polish and professionalism: 14%

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