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HaptX, the maker of data gloves for virtual reality, has raised $23 million to accelerate the development of its next-generation of haptic technology.
Redmond, Washington-based Haptx brings the sensation of touch to VR, making it more immersive for people so they can feel like they’re transported to another world, said CEO Jake Rubin in an interview with GamesBeat. The quality of “presence” that touch can bring is widely believed to be one of the requirements for feeling like you’re inside a VR-based metaverse.
Haptx previously launched its second development kit about two years ago, and it fielded its first product in early 2021. Companies are using it for things like product design.
“In 2016, we started with the vision of full body immersion,” Rubin said. “We’ve continued that development. We needed to pick a piece of the market to bring the technology to. The obvious place to start is with the hands, which are most sensitive. That was the genesis for the Haptx gloves.”
AIS Global and Crescent Cove Advisors led the round, with participation from Verizon Ventures, Mason Avenue Investments, and Taylor Frigon Capital Partners.
This investment brings HaptX’s total funding to more than $58 million. Centerview Partners acted as financial advisor to HaptX.
The proceeds from this round will be used to fund commercialization of next-generation products building on the success of HaptX’s award-winning HaptX Gloves DK2. Unlike other haptic gloves which are limited to vibration and force feedback, HaptX Gloves physically displace the user’s skin the way a real object would. They deliver unprecedented realism, with more than 130 points of tactile feedback per hand. Fortune 500 companies and governments around the world have adopted HaptX Gloves for the most demanding applications in training and simulation, industrial design, and robotics.
In conjunction with this transaction, HaptX has extended its partnership with AIS Global, a portfolio company of New York-based KPS Capital Partners.
“HaptX and AIS Global have built a deep, successful relationship dedicated to innovation at the cutting edge of the high-growth global haptics market,” said Joe Baddeley, CEO of AIS Global, in a statement. “AIS Global and KPS are thrilled to provide the resources, commitment, and expertise necessary to support aggressive scaling of HaptX’s commercial footprint.”
Crescent Cove Advisors, based in San Francisco, substantially increased its investment in HaptX
in this funding round after providing a $4 million credit facility to HaptX in 2021.
“HaptX has succeeded in generating tremendous customer demand across a wide array of use cases,” said Jun Hong Heng, chief investment officer of Crescent Cove Advisors, in a statement. “We believe HaptX will play a foundational role in fulfilling the promise of the Metaverse as an immersive 3D successor to today’s 2D internet.”
“We are proud to have the commitment of partners like AIS Global and Crescent Cove fueling
our efforts to build haptics so lifelike that users can’t distinguish between the virtual and the
real,” said Jake Rubin, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of HaptX. “This funding will enable
HaptX to build on the success of HaptX Gloves DK2 with exciting new products that will redefine
virtual and robotic interactions.”
As for the timing of the next-generation products from Haptx, Rubin said, “We’re not talking about a specific date yet, but obviously it will be quite soon. And it’s going to be a huge leap forward for our products and our technology.”
The earlier system has been in the hands of a large number of customers and potential customers, and the company has gathered a lot of feedback, Rubin said.
“All of those learnings have gone on in the feedback and its customers have gone into these next generation products,” Rubin said. “We’ll be presenting a huge leap forward in terms of capabilities and scale in the future.”
The ambition is to ultimately get to a full-body suit that can capture haptic feedback, like the body suits in the sci-fi film Ready Player One. Rubin said the company has been working on parallel research paths, one to improve the glove product and the other to extend feedback to other parts of the body.
The company has about 50 people now and it plans to double that in the next year.
“We have made an incredible amount of R&D progress,” Rubin said. “I’m just incredibly excited to share everything that we’ve been doing. We will start to touch more consumer-oriented applications.”
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