Ra'anana-based Mixed Place has raised $750,000 in a seed round from PPI Worldwide. Mixed Place has developed a platform for what is known as "mixed reality": digital, three-dimensional mapping of the world that allows digital content to be overlaid on the real environment. The company is at an advanced stage of development of an app that is due to be launched in within the next six months.
Mixed Place was founded by Alon Melchner, who founded and managed virtual reality and augmented reality company WakingApp. Melchner says that the app is intended to enable users to design, build, and share digital contend that they plant in the physical world. The content is combined into reality in such a way that it is possible to see and be photographed with it, through smartphones or virtual reality headsets.
Talking to "Globes", Melchner says that the goal he has set for himself and for Mixed Place is to become the platform for virtual reality, one that will develop along with the hardware technologies in this field. "I hope to become one of the infrastructures that save startups having to deal with the heavy technology, so that the world will be able to make this transformation as quickly as possible. When Google, Apple and Microsoft launch their glasses, we'll be one of the biggest content platforms in the world."
Melchner says that the app is an initial stage in developing the company's platform. He intends to assemble the 3D infrastructure "with the aid of the telephone cameras of millions of users of the app." Mixed Place's technology makes it possible to gather two-dimensional pictures, to coordinate them with GPS data, and assemble a three-dimensional mapping.
"The app is something anyone can use, particularly young people. It's a location-based social app through which anyone can express themselves. As soon as you look at the real world through the telephone camera, you see the digital content within the real world, in a way that looks natural," says Melchner. "We give users tools to create content overlaid on the world, and as part of this they will passively scan the world for us. We're doing this out of belief in the power of the masses."
Melchner explained that distribution of the app so widely will be made possible by two factors. The first is the viral character of the app. "We're building a viral social app that contains many elements of gamification and addictiveness. It has very viral characteristics, so that anyone who uses it will bring 15-20 friends." Melchner refuses to discuss the business model at this stage.
He did however reveal his intention of distributing the app commercially. "Distribution of the app will also be based on collaborations with large commercial companies," he says. He compared the innovativeness of Mixed Place to that of the Netscape web browser, which was a breakthrough in Internet content. Melchner's business strategy is, however, much more commercial than that of Netscape. "They didn't know what to do with it at first. I think that there was an attempt to start with people, with commercial entities coming in only at a later stage. I'm trying to take a shortcut and bring in the commercial entities from the start."
PPI's business is sales promotion. The company works with large retail chains around the world. As part of the terms of the investment, Mixed Place has received access to the group's activity in Europe, the US, Latin America, and Asia. Melchner says that Mixed Place is in advanced negotiations with three large retail chains on commercial distribution.
"Mixed Reality will create a world in which digital consumption will function intuitively as part of the real world, rather than be limited to 2D screens. This will revolutionize every aspect of life and in countless sectors of the economy, from retail and entertainment, through manufacturing, events production, transportation and defense, to education. For example, in retail, we will be able to be digitally accompanied through means such as virtual personas or arrows, that will continuously lead us from the street to the supermarket, and inside the supermarket to specific shelves and products," Melchner says.
Mixed Place has filed 17 patent applications for developing an infrastructure that will allow users to position Mixed Reality digital content over the physical world. Over the course of the coming year, Mixed Place intends to hold a Series A financing found to accelerate the development of advanced Mixed Reality products.
In the past few years, there has been a jump in magnitude in the virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) fields. The term "Mixed Reality" connects VR with AR to describe the convergence of the real world with the virtual world to create new environments and visualizations in which physical and virtual objects coexist and interact in real time. Global interest in the Mixed Reality market is reaching new heights, as giants such as Google, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft are expanding their human, R&D, and financial resources in the field. Similarly, Mixed Reality start-up Magic Leap has raised $1.9 billion, including $502 million in a new financing round backed by companies such as Google and Alibaba Group.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 5, 2018
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