Daqri, a company that says it’s creating the “Photoshop of augmented reality,” just announced that it has raised a $15 million Series A led by Tarsadia Investments.
As with other augmented-reality companies, Daqri enables customers to enrich physical objects with additional media when those objects are viewed through a smartphone or tablet camera (and eventually other devices, too — the company says it will support Google Glass at launch). The technology has already powered more than 1,000 campaigns with companies like Twentieth Century Fox, Matchbox 20, and Sony, Daqri says. At the same time, it isn’t just trying to make ads — the company also sees potential in fields like manufacturing, medicine and education.
For example, when founder and CEO Brian Mullins stopped by the TechCrunch office last month, he unrolled a large diagram — which, when viewed through his iPad, turned into a 3D anatomical body. There were other materials, like a Maxim cover that turned into a behind-the-scenes video. Daqri has some more news coming up, so I don’t think I’m supposed to talk about the most impressive demo that I saw, at least not yet — but, well, it was impressive.
There are other companies doing interesting things with augmented reality, including some from competitors like Autonomy-owned Aurasma, but it still feels like the technology is in its very early stages. When I look at many AR campaigns and products, I think, “Cool!” for a few seconds but find little to hold my interest beyond that.
The key to moving AR to the next level, Mullins said, is taking it beyond novelties and gimmicks. He compared it to the early days of movies (where, famously, one of the early hits showed a train pulling into the station). He added that one of the advantages that Daqri has over the competition is the fact that you don’t need a team of developers to build a campaign. Designers should be able to create beautiful, interactive media without writing a line of code — that’s where the Photoshop comparison comes in.
Daqri has now raised $17 million in total funding. The company also announced that Troy Carter, Lady Gaga’s manager and chairman and CEO of Atom Factory, has joined its advisory board.