Tokyo-based augmented reality startup Tonchidot has raised $12 million in Series B funding from various Japanese companies, including the country’s second biggest telco KDDI, major media conglomerate Recruit, ad agency SPiRE and venture capital firms DCM, Itochu Technology Ventures (ITV), and JAFCO.
Tonchidot closed a $4 million series A funding round led by DCM and with ITV participating back in December 2008. The $16 million raised in two rounds is an impressive chunk of money in Japan’s startup scene.
The TechCrunch50 company is known for Sekai Camera, its hit augmented reality (AR) application that’s available for free on the iPhone, Android, iPad, and on the web. In March this year, Tonchidot introduced OpenAir, an API that allows third parties to deliver content within Sekai Camera. (More info on how Tonchidot did after TC50 2008 can be found in my post from July.)
“SoLAR” games as the third wave of mobile gaming innovation
Now some of the fresh money will be used for expanding the company’s app platform (Sekai Apps) that makes it possible for third parties to release social/location-based/AR games within the Sekai Camera application. Named “SoLAR”, Tonchidot says these titles will constitute the third wave of innovation in the rapidly growing mobile gaming space – following “traditional” mobile games and location-based services like Foursquare or Booyah.
Here’s the official SoLAR Apps promo video:
SoLAR stands for “Social, Location, Augmented Reality”. The first two SoLAR titles already added to Sekai Camera are third-party action game Kaboom and a unique Twitter app called CooKoo (Sekai Camera users can access them directly from a menu). CooKoo is a quirky mix between Twitter client and AR-powered, location-based social game that transforms your tweets into pigeons.
Tonchidot promises more SoLAR titles, mobile payment solutions, Facebook and Twitter connectivity, and other features in the near future. We’ll keep you posted.