WayRay Raises $80 Million From Porsche & Hyundai to Bring Augmented Reality to Cars
In the future, a car's windshield might become a giant augmented reality display and one company is leading the charge to make it happen. WayRay, a Swiss-based startup, is becoming a leader in the development of holographic augmented reality (AG) displays for cars and major automakers have taken notice.
WayRay has announced an $80 million investment round led by Porsche, Hyundai Motor, Alibaba Group, China Merchants Capital and others. The new funding will will be used for R&D and expansion as the company continues to develop its holographic AR technology.
Founded in 2012, WayRay is looking to become a major supplier of AR technology to the automotive industry. By the end of 2019, WayRay aims to become a tech unicorn with a $1 billion valuation.
WayRay is best known for its augmented reality driving system, which projects information directly on the car's windshield in front of the driver. The software can display information on vehicle speed, time of day, or even arrows and other graphics to help the driver navigate with GPS, avoid hazards, and warn of dangers ahead, such as pedestrians or bicyclists.
In 2017, Wayray was selected as the grand prize winner of the 2017 Top Ten Automotive Startup Competition at Automobility LA. The company was chosen from a pool of 300 applicants.
"The WayRay team has unique expertise with a solid background in space engineering, hardware and software development. Their innovative ideas and products have great potential. We are convinced that on this basis we'll be able to offer our clients customized Porsche solutions. That is why we have made this strategic investment decision." said Lutz Meschke, Deputy Chairman of the Executive Board at Porsche.
WayRay's augmented reality technology projects data directly on the car's windshield
WayRay says that by displaying information directly on the windshield, it allows drivers to stay better focused on the road. The AR system can also notify the driver of potential points of interest along a route, such as restaurants or other businesses. WayRay's holographic AR solutions create a unique augmented reality experience, where virtual objects appear seamlessly around the car.
Compared to the conventional HUDs (head-up displays) available on the market, WayRay's small projection system can be installed in almost any car model. It has a wider field of view for displaying more virtual objects on the windshield, within a comfortable distance for drivers' eyes.
Another advantage of WayRay's AR system is that it's customizable for both the driver and passengers. For example, the driver can navigate using the AR system while the front seat passenger looks for a local restaurant or other points of interest.
In April, WayRay announced the opening of its newest office in the Jiading District of Shanghai, China. The district is known as a world-class automotive hub, attracting companies such as SAIC and NIO.
WayRay's new office in China is intended to establish deeper partnerships with Asian suppliers and car manufacturers.
"As a deep-tech company, we are committed to creating fundamental innovations that bring us far beyond holographic AR displays and new interfaces. A growing number of projects with carmakers and strong investors are fueling the company's growth and boosting our confidence in implementing complex innovations. We are proud to be recognized as a reliable partner able to meet the high standards set by investors like Porsche and Hyundai." said Vitaly Ponomarev, CEO of WayRay in a statement.
WayRay plans to establish an affiliate with a pilot production line in Germany. The new investment will also help to diversify WayRay's portfolio to different sectors outside of the automotive industry from AR in transportation to AR smart glass for the smart home industry.
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