Atheer Acquires OnTheGo For Its Enterprise AR Platform

Atheer, a company that builds augmented reality glasses and software for the enterprise, today announced that it has acquired Portland’s OnTheGo Platforms (OTG).

OTG has long specialized in building a gesture recognition system that can work on any mobile devices with a standard camera. The five-person company has taken funding from a number of prominent investors since it launched in 2012, totaling $3.09 million.

Atheer CEO Alberto Torres told me he believes OTG’s technology is complimentary to his company’s technology, which relies on Kinect-like depth sensors for its gesture recognition system.

2015-12-01_1936“One of our core differentiators is the gesture system — we have a gestures system today that is, as far as we know, the only gesture system that can run on mobile and can fully replicate what you can do on a touchscreen,” he told me. “We are constantly looking to strengthen our position and our lead there, and were fascinated by the technology that OnTheGo Platforms had. We felt it was quite complimentary.”

To this, OTG’s CEO Ryan Fink added that his company’s technology will be able to work in situations where Atheer’s system — which relies on infrared light — can’t work because there’s too much sunlight, for example. He also noted that he believes the combination of Atheer and OTG will allow both companies to better serve their customers.

While Atheer is based in Silicon Valley, it’ll keep the OTG offices in Portland open, and OTG will continue to support its existing customers, too.

Torres also noted that OTG currently owns three patents (with a few more in the pipeline). Atheer will be able to add this to its set of 11 granted patents (and 50 pending ones) as it tries to build up its own IP portfolio.

The two companies refused to talk about the purchase price, though Fink noted that both “the team and the investors are very happy with the acquisition.”

Atheer clearly believes that for augmented reality to succeed, it’ll first have to make inroads in the enterprise market (the company actually cancelled its consumer product last year to do just this). The company currently has a number of customers in the enterprise, but also in government agencies and research institutions. Torres tells me that Atheer has also been getting a lot of inbound interest for its hardware since it opened up reservations last month.

Atheer obviously competes with products like Microsoft’s HoloLens. HoloLens, in many ways, is a more ambitious project, but many of the augmented reality use cases Atheer is going after don’t need all of this complexity. If it can move fast enough, it definitely has a chance to corner quite a bit of the market (and to be fair, it still remains to be seen what the size of that market is) before others are ready to challenge it.