Leuven, Belgium-based Swave, a fabless semiconductor company that designs and markets holographic chips based on proprietary diffractive photonics technology, announced on Tuesday that it has raised €7M in a Seed round of funding.
Swave Photonics is a spin-off from imec and Vrije Universiteit Brussel.
The investment is co-lead by imec through its VC fund imec.xpand, and Flanders Future Techfund (FFTF), a Belgian/Flemish public investment fund. Belgian inter-university venture capital fund QBIC also participated in the Seed round.
Peter Vanbekbergen, a partner at imec.xpand, says, “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. We are convinced that Swave’s transformative gigapixel holographic technology can fuel the $93B AR/VR, metaverse market and will position Swave to enable an upgrade to today’s challenging AR/VR immersive experiences.”
Technology to bring the metaverse to life
Founded in 2022 by Theodore Marescaux and Dmitri Choutov, Swave is on a mission to bring the metaverse to life and enable display manufacturers and content creators to disrupt the visualisation market with immersive, ultra-high-resolution, and lifelike holographic displays.
Marescaux says, “Our vision is to help build the fundamental holographic technology to bring the metaverse to life and work. 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 claims that its Holographic eXtended Reality (HXR) technology is the “Holy Grail” of the metaverse, delivering lifelike, high-resolution 3D images viewable with the naked eye.
The HXR gigapixel technology
According to Swave, HXR technology provides 1000x greater pixel resolution with billions of tiny, closely spaced pixels to provide ‘genuine’ 20/20 vision, without the need for smart AR/VR headsets or prescription glasses. By eliminating the current AR/VR/XR issues of focal depth and eye-tracking, Swave’s HXR technology creates lifelike holographic displays that viewers can effortlessly focus on both local and distant things.
The HXR chips are manufactured using standard CMOS technology, which enables cost-effective scaling. With this technology, the company is targeting metaverse platforms, 360-degree holographic walls, 3D gaming, AR/VR/XR glasses, collaborative video conferencing, and heads-up displays for automotive and aerospace systems.
The technology can also power holographic headsets that deliver 3D AR/VR/XR experiences with high resolution, depth of focus and 180-degree to 360-degree viewing angles.
The applications powered by HXR gigapixel technology will be capable of passing the visual Turing test, in which virtual reality is indistinguishable from real-world images that humans see with their own eyes.
The company also mentions in a statement that “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. We plan 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.”
Swave says it will use the proceeds for the commercialisation of HXR gigapixel technology for a wide range of applications. The funds will also help expand its management and engineering teams, and hire in key areas.
Talking about the availability of the HXR microchip products, Swave says they 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 optimised for additional emerging AR/VR/XR applications.