Imec spin-off raises €7m for scalable holographic photonics chips
Swave Photonics, a fabless semiconductor company that designs holographic chips based on diffractive photonics technology, has announced a €7 million seed round.
The company, a new spin-off of imec and Vrije Universiteit Brussel, will use the investment to fund the commercialisation of its immersive 3D HXR gigapixel technology for extended reality and other emerging applications.
Swave’s holographic extended reality (HXR) technology delivers lifelike, high-resolution 3D images that are viewable with the naked eye. HXR technology enables 1,000x better pixel resolution with billions of tiny, densely packed pixels to enable true realistic 20/20 vision without requiring viewers to wear smart AR/VR headsets or prescription glasses.
The technology overcomes AR/VR/XR challenges of focal depth and eye tracking, so viewers can easily focus on nearby and faraway objects. Most importantly, the HXR chips are manufactured using standard CMOS technology, which enables cost-effective scaling.
The company's inital chip samples are set to be available in 2023, with future versions optimised for additional AR/VR/XR applications. Large chip versions (2cm x 2cm) are designed for ultra-high-end holographic display applications, and small (0.5cm x 0.5cm) versions will target ultra-light-weight wearable devices.
Target applications for the chips include 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 immersive 3D AR/VR/XR experiences with high resolution, perfect depth of focus and 180-degree to 360-degree viewing angles, all without the headaches experienced by users of conventional headsets.
'Our vision is to help build the fundamental holographic technology to bring the metaverse to life and work,' said Theodore Marescaux, CEO and founder, Swave Photonics. '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.'
Participating investors in the initial seed round include imec.xpand, a value-add venture capital fund focused on nanotechnology innovations and Flanders Future Techfund (FFTF), a Belgian/Flemish public investment fund, are co-leading this seed round. QBIC, a Belgian inter-university venture capital fund is also participating.
Luc Van den hove, president and CEO of imec, commented: 'We are convinced that Swave can bring to the market a fundamental technology we have been developing for more than five years through substantial R&D programmes and imec investments.'