No, not SPACE…spaces. As in, industrial facilities, commercial real estate, oil & gas plants!
Over the last handful of years, some of the biggest advances in technology have been in the fields of computer vision, machine learning, artificial intelligence and robotics. When you combine all of these and apply them to some of the largest sectors in the economy, you get openspace.ai.
I am proud to announce that Lux Capital just led a seed round in OpenSpace. As part of the investment, I am joining the company’s board of directors.
While OpenSpace’s technology and offering are compelling enough on their own, what I’m most excited about is the people. The founding team, which originally met at MIT, has a proven track record in tech startups:
Jeevan Kalanithi was the co-founder and CEO of Sifteo. The company was bought by 3D Robotics, and Jeevan later became President. Lux invested in other
I recently met an entrepreneur who was working on what he seemed over-excited to label a ‘crazy idea’. My team at Lux routinely invests in ‘tech rebels’, the misfits and technology contrarians who challenge the status quo, and create the future. We are not scared off by ‘crazy ideas'.
But unfortunately this idea was more bad and half-baked than crazy. It was in a technically complex space, but there were lots of badly thought through assumptions in the business case, and not enough details were flushed out. The optimism was not only apparent, but also over the top.
While it was clear we would not invest in the company, unfortunately I also felt this was one of those ideas that would get funded by someone in the current investing climate. I provided feedback to the entrepreneur on some specific things in the plan, but as a parting thought I also asked the
At the intersection of business, economics and politics in the United States, there is no subject more controversial than manufacturing. The media can’t decide whether to put the blame on international outsourcing or robots, and you don’t need to look much further than the White House’s PR-driven “Made in America Week” campaign to see that this is a white-hot issue. At stake is nothing less than global leadership.
The critical many-trillion-dollar question: What is the future of manufacturing?
At Lux Capital, we are partnering with a number of different companies that are stepping up to answer this question, using cutting-edge technology to architect a new future. Desktop Metal is leading the charge with metal
When you’re headed out of town, you probably ask a neighbor or two to pick up your mail and keep an eye on your place while you’re gone. You might even have a neighborhood watch on your block, where folks look out for one another. Now imagine a souped-up version of that. Everyone in your community would have the most technologically-advanced security system, including night-vision cameras and smart alarms, all of which are powered by a super-intelligent computer that could learn about human behavior and help prevent crimes from happening in the first place.
That’s Deep Sentinel.
I’m excited to announce our investment in Deep Sentinel, which officially came out of “stealth” mode today and announced a $7.4M Series A raise. My firm, Lux Capital, was the first institutional investor in the company’s seed stage last year, and
Big day today for our portfolio company DesktopMetal. They are revealing two metal 3D printing systems covering the full product lifecycle of metal parts production — from prototyping to mass production. These two systems are called DM Studio, and DM Production, and together they are expected to change how metal parts are designed and manufactured across industries. (Check out detailed reviews of the technology in Technology Review and Develop3D).
Metal 3D printing has traditionally been expensive, slow, and hard to work with in the absence of large upfront capital commitments in technology and infrastructure. DesktopMetal was founded in late 2015 to change that forever. Lux Capital is proud to have been associated with it since the beginning (here, and here), and now so excited the company can finally talk publicly about how they are revolutionizing the manufacturing sector. Ric, Jonah, Matt and the rest are really
For decades traditional venture capital firms’ partnerships were built around three broad specialties:
Enterprise (infrastructure and software)
Consumer (internet and mobile)
Healthcare (biotech and medical devices)
Look around a majority of venture firms and you will still see roughly the same broad structure. Firms built practices in these spaces by hiring multiple partners over the years, and have entire platforms built to support the ecosystem in those industries. Some firms have spun-out their biotech practices over the years, but otherwise the formula remains.
So until a few years ago when entrepreneurs outside of those sectors approached VCs it was often a challenge to find appropriate attention. If you were a hardware company, an energy company, or an automotive company which partner(s) would take up your case and be engaged? Who would feel comfortable in their knowledge of the industry, regulatory risks, key players, and channel/margin situation? Who would push their own boundaries and
A few years back I saw an insanely magical art performance on youtube. It was a video done by the geniuses at Bot and Dolly, and their robot-meets-projection-mapping spectacle was breath-taking (see below). I encourage you to also watch their ‘making of’ video.
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A quick search online will lead you to many amazing videos using projection mapping. I have spent hours watching incredible videos utilizing this technology that blends the real and the imaginary worlds. Here’s the problem though: projection mapping installations are complicated and expensive to produce, often project only on non-moving/static surfaces, and require manual precise alignment at regular intervals. For those reasons, projection mapping has remained out of the hands of ordinary people.
But that is to be no more. I am proud to share news about Lux funding a new startup, Lightform, founded by Brett, Raj and Kevin — brilliant computation imaging and AR/VR experts that now aim to democratize projection mapping. Lightform has been financed so far by Lux Capital, Seven Seas Capital, some senior executives in the AR/VR world, and NSF.
Lightform’s team combines years of projection mapping experience ranging from large scale entertainment experiences to PhD research experiments. They have developed theme park rides at Disney Imagineering, designed software behind Bot & Dolly’s Box, mapped building facades at Obscura, and created immersive AR prototypes IllumiRoom and RoomAlive at Microsoft Research. This team also runs the most popular blog on projection mapping, featuring community submissions from around the world.
Lightform is the first computer made for projected augmented reality, and the company offers the first end-to-end workflow for projection mapping, making it possible for a single user to 3D scan, create content, and deploy an installation in one sitting. This includes initial scanning of the surface you want projection on, 3D animation, and auto-alignment if object moves. Literally out of the box, when you turn the Lightform app on you are not projected by a blank screen, but 3D content related to the object/wall/surface in view, and that 3D information obtained from their proprietary camera + software is used to drive AI-generated effects and real-time filters for your projection project. You can imagine it to work as simply as pointing your light projector (with Lightform camera attached) on any surface you may want to project on, turn on the app, create or import content you want projected, add any 3D visual effects you like, and…voila — you have brought that surface to life! (see image below). Lightform wants to democratize this medium so it can be used anywhere across film, art, education, cultural exhibits, events, signage, home entertainment, weddings, seasonal decor, theater, dance, and more.
I am very excited to see how Lightform can bring projection mapping to our every day commercial and consumer uses. This is an insanely creative team that wants to change the fact that only big budget productions have had access to this magical technology in the past. They want to start the movement towards making projected AR a part of every day life. They see projected AR becoming an integral part of architecture and interiors, projectors eventually becoming as ubiquitous as light fixtures, and ubiquitous projection-as-lighting can enhance or create art, signage, decor, and interactive displays. Possibilities are endless!
Projection AR to make every surface come alive! Our investment in Lightform. was originally published in BZ Notes on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.