Pixieray Raises $4.4 Million for Adaptive Eyeglasses
Pixieray has come out from stealth and raised $4.4 million in seed funding to build what it calls adaptive eyeglasses capable of adjusting their lenses to bring anything a wearer is looking at into focus. These are AR glasses with Auto Focus.
These Pixieray glasses will be like prescription glasses with lenses that can zoom in or out just like the iPhone cameras, ensuring that your vision will be excellent irrespective of what you are looking at. These will be like eyeglasses that have autofocus.
Pixieray is based in Espoo in Finland. The startup revealed its project, funding, product vision, along with other details for the first time.
In an interview with VentureBeat, Pixieray CEO Niko Eiden stated that the company’s optical solution to eyeglasses will provide perfect vision to the wearer of the glasses no matter the usage context. The traditional eyeglasses lens that we use provides us with an optical and mechanical compromise with a fixed focal point. Pixieray is developing adaptive eyeglasses capable of constantly adjusting the focal point thereby applying the ideal correction. According to Eiden, this adaptive solution not only minimizes the eye strain but it also, considerably, increases the user comfort.
Eiden states that from a miniaturization perspective and power perspective, the technology has progressed considerably and that Pixieray wants to transform the existing glasses and build “the best glasses the market has ever seen.”
Pixieray Glasses Will Ship in 2023
Although Pixieray already has a prototype, it will be quite sometime before the company ships its first product. Pixieray wants to enable people that have farsighted eyeglass prescriptions to read and work with optimal vision and to get rid of the cumbersome multifocals as well as the need to switch eyeglasses. The optical strength of the Pixieray eyeglasses is adjustable by the wearer over time in order to match changes to the eye vision. The Pixieray technology will also considerably increase the field of view compared to what you would get with multifocal lenses.
According to Eiden, the Pixieray technology will understand what the user is looking at before adjusting the glasses accordingly. He explains that from an adaptability perspective, there will be a “continuous loop” taking place. As a result, someone working from a computer screen will be able to get the best perspective for the computer screen. In case you will be looking far out, you will be having the best possible glasses for driving and in case you are reading, you will have the best possible reading glasses.
Pixieray plans to expand to about 10 people with the glasses expected to ship sometime in 2023. Although the timeline is realistic, it could also give competitors a large window to catch up now that the plans have been revealed.
Pixieray isn’t disclosing its technology or product for quite some time. However, the company has stated that its eyeglasses will not resemble virtual reality and augmented reality headsets or glasses.
Pixieray is currently recruiting for various positions in engineering and operations. Pixieray investors include First Fellow (Finland), Maki.vc (Finland), Firstminute capital (U.K.), Amazon Alexa Fund (U.S.), and Bragiel Brothers (U.S.). Other individual investors participating in the seed round Ikka Paananen (Finland), David Helgason (Denmark), and John Lindfors (Hong Kong, China).
Pixieray CEO Niko Eiden previously worked at CERN, Microsoft, and Varjo. Other Pixieray founders are COO Rebecca Xu, CTO Klaus Melakari, and the company’s chief algorithm office Ville Miettinen. There is also Jocelyn Faubert, professor and director of the Faubert Lab at the Universite de Montreal who is serving as an advisor at the company.
Eiden believes Pixieray’s adaptive eyeglasses technology will make a huge difference for millions of people across the globe who have to use eyewear in their daily lives. To work on this challenge, Pixieray is also adding two new board members: Risto Siilasmaa of First Fellow Partners and IIkka Kivimaki of Maki.vc.
The company is also hiring new recruits in Helsinki. Although the company was started a month ago, its founders have been thinking about the technology for quite a while.
These adaptive eyeglasses could be especially useful for people holding jobs such as welding that involve wearing helmets, ski masks, driving goggles or virtual reality goggles. However, the company’s main aim is to crack the mainstream glasses market.
These glasses will not have to change lenses frequently- it will be no more than 100 milliseconds or longer which is not difficult to do because the human eye is very slow. The glasses could also be paired with a mobile phone, especially where connectivity or additional processing power is required. Ultimately, the glasses should feel the same as that of any ordinary glasses.
Pixieray will also be partnering with a manufacturer capable of making the glasses but the company still has to perfect the technology.
According to Xu, the company is planning to refine the technology and combine all the stuff in a completely new way. She stated that the company plans to take a much faster approach in the development of the glasses.
The technology is also timely as our eyes are getting worse by the day. According to Eiden, the traditional vision correction method based on a pair of spectacles generally provides static optical power. The Pixieray glasses, on the other hand, are capable of adjusting optical power almost instantaneously, providing the optical power to the specific point where the user is looking.