New funding: Seattle augmented reality startup Taqtile raised $3 million in a round led by Broadmark Capital and its affiliated entities, along with additional investors. It’s the first equity round for Taqtile. The 35-person company was also part of Magic Leap’s new enterprise partner program announced today.
Company background: Taqtile develops augmented reality tech for industrial applications on headsets and mobile devices. Customers across six continents use its cross-platform Manifest software for training and other on-the-job purposes. The idea is to increase efficiency by reducing the time it takes to get work done while lowering error rates.
Customers: Clients include Seattle-area King County IT, which uses Manifest and Microsoft HoloLens to train operators at a wastewater treatment plant, and the New Zealand Defense Force. Taqtile initially launched in 2011 and focused on mobile app development before shifting gears to mixed reality.
Magic Leap deal: Joining the enterprise partner program is a key milestone for Taqtile, given that Magic Leap is a leader in the augmented reality industry, having raised nearly $3 billion. Magic Leap will now re-sell Taqtile’s Manifest solution as it turns its focus to enterprise use cases. Taqtile previously won a “Creator’s Grant” from Magic Leap to port its solutions to the company’s platform.
Taqtile is also a Microsoft partner and won the U.S. Partner for Mixed Reality and Intelligent Cloud award earlier this year at Microsoft Inspire. AT&T — which is a Magic Leap investor — is also a Taqtile partner.
VR/AR training: VR and AR technologies — or “mixed reality” — haven’t caught on with mainstream consumers, but businesses have found various use cases, particularly with training and/or workforce efficiency. Companies from Airbus to Walmart are using the technology to train workers. Publicly-traded home services giant Frontdoor just acquired Portland startup Streem, which develops augmented reality technology for home improvement technicians. Other similar companies include Vancouver, Wash.-based RealWear, which raised $80 million in July, and new Seattle startup Altoura.
Will VR/AR catch on with consumers? Xbox chief Phil Spencer recently said that VR is not a priority for Microsoft’s next-generation console. VR/AR has clearly not caught on with mainstream consumers. “We’re responding to what our customers are asking for and … nobody’s asking for VR,” Spencer said.
Taqtile CEO Dirck Schou Jr. is more optimistic. He pointed to Apple’s continued investment in AR and said he expects everyday people to be eventually be wearing some type of headset that’s tethered to a phone. But he added that software will be key. “As was the case with the PC, software drives it,” he said. “You need software solutions to support new hardware ecosystems.”