Swave Photonics, an innovator in Holographic eXtended Reality (HXR) technology to bring the metaverse to life, announced a €7 million seed round. The investment will be used to fund the commercialization of truly realistic, immersive 3D HXR gigapixel technology for a wide range of emerging applications.
The demand for eXtended Reality (XR) technology that enhances or replaces our view of the world is exploding with the rapid emergence of the metaverse, a 3D world where participants can interact with people, objects and places and other applications benefiting from truly realistic 3D experiences. Swave Photonics is a new spin-off of imec and Vrije Universiteit Brussel.
Participating investors in the initial seed round include imec.xpand, a value-add venture capital fund focused on nanotechnology innovations and Flanders Future Techfund (FFTF), a Belgian/Flemish public investment fund, are co-leading this seed round. QBIC, a Belgian inter-university venture capital fund is also participating.
Swave’s Holographic eXtended Reality (HXR) technology is the Holy Grail of the metaverse, delivering lifelike, high-resolution 3D images that are viewable with the naked eye, with no compromises. HXR technology enables 1000x better pixel resolution with billions of tiny, densely packed pixels to enable true realistic 20/20 vision without requiring viewers to wear smart AR/VR headsets or prescription glasses. Swave’s HXR technology projects lifelike holographic images that eliminate today’s AR/VR/XR challenges of focal depth and eye tracking, so viewers can easily focus on nearby and faraway objects. Most importantly, the HXR chips are manufactured using standard CMOS technology, which enables cost-effective scaling.
Leveraging advances in photonics and holography based on diffractive optics, Swave’s HXR gigapixel technology targets metaverse platforms, 360-degree holographic walls, 3D gaming, AR/VR/XR glasses, collaborative video conferencing, and heads-up displays for automotive and aerospace systems. Swave technology can also power holographic headsets that deliver immersive 3D AR/VR/XR experiences with stunning high resolution, perfect depth of focus and 180-degree to 360-degree viewing angles, all without the headaches experienced by users of conventional headsets. Applications powered by HXR gigapixel technology will be capable of passing the visual Turing test in which virtual reality is practically indistinguishable from real-world images that humans see with their own eyes.
“Our vision is to help build the fundamental holographic technology to bring the metaverse to life and work,” said Theodore Marescaux, CEO and founder, Swave Photonics. “Swave’s HXR gigapixel technology will forever change the way we see and experience displayed still images, videos and live imaging. True, lifelike and immersive metaverse experiences powered by Swave technology are poised to replace every AR/VR display and headset to the point where virtual, augmented or eXtended reality is practically indistinguishable from the real world.”
Swave’s HXR gigapixel technology will play a key role in the future of work by enabling people everywhere to engage in immersive video conferences while working remotely. Swave plans to partner with leading AR/VR/XR and metaverse platforms, so companies can have a shared, lifelike 3D experience of meeting around a conference table.
“We are convinced that Swave can bring to the market a fundamental technology we have been developing for more than five years through substantial R&D programs and imec investments,” said Luc Van den hove, president and CEO of imec. “Imec has a strong track record of innovation and productization that can scale across a wide range of applications. We are committed to make Swave a success and have great confidence that with their extensive patent portfolio and continued support of our teams and ecosystem, Swave can become one of the biggest disruptors for immersive 3D displays and a key accelerator for applications like the metaverse.”
“As a co-lead investor in this seed round, investing from our brand-new xpand-II fund, we are helping to build and grow a disruptive, deep-tech holographic company,” said Peter Vanbekbergen, a partner at imec.xpand. “We are convinced that Swave’s transformative gigapixel holographic technology can fuel the $93 billion AR/VR, metaverse market and will position Swave to enable an upgrade to today’s challenging AR/VR immersive experiences.”
“Swave is a fantastic addition to the growing high-tech community in Flanders, and will reinforce Flanders’s place on the global map of the tech industry,” said Jo Brouns, Flemish Minister of Economy and Innovation. “We are proud to see that the newly established Flanders Future Technology Fund has been instrumental in preparing this seed round for a promising company like Swave, in close cooperation with early stage deep-tech investors. The mission of the FFTF is to accelerate the breakthrough technologies developed by our knowledge centers to the market, which is exactly what we are doing with this investment in Swave.”
Swave’s HXR microchip products are mass-producible, cost-effective and reliable. Large chip versions (2 cm x 2 cm) are designed for ultra-high-end holographic display applications, and tiny 0.5 cm x 0.5 cm versions will target ultra-light-weight wearable devices. Initial HXR chip samples are planned to be available in 2023. Future versions of HXR chips will be optimized for additional emerging AR/VR/XR applications.
Swave Photonics is a fabless semiconductor company that designs and markets holographic chips based on proprietary diffractive photonics technology. Its mission is to bring the metaverse to life and enable display manufacturers and content creators to disrupt the visualization market with immersive, ultra-high-resolution, lifelike, true holographic displays. Swave envisions a world where holographic displays give everyone the power to visualize the impossible, collaborate and accomplish more.
Imec is a world-leading research and innovation center in nanoelectronics and digital technologies. Imec leverages its state-of-the-art R&D infrastructure and its team of more than 5,000 employees and top researchers for R&D in advanced semiconductor and system scaling, silicon photonics, artificial intelligence, beyond 5G communications and sensing technologies, and in application domains such as health and life sciences, mobility, industry 4.0, agrofood, smart cities, sustainable energy and education. Imec unites world industry leaders across the semiconductor value chain, Flanders-based and international tech, pharma, medical and ICT companies, start-ups, and academia and knowledge centers. Imec is headquartered in Leuven (Belgium) and has research sites across Belgium, in the Netherlands, and in the US, and offices in China, India, Taiwan and Japan. In 2021, Imec’s revenue (P&L) totaled 732 million euros.