Mojo Vision, an under-the-radar AR startup that hasn't publicly revealed what it's building, raises $58M Series B from Google's Gradient Ventures and others (Paul Sawers/VentureBeat)

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Mojo Vision, an under-the-radar augmented reality (AR) startup that has yet to reveal exactly what it’s building, announced that it has raised $58 million in a series B round of funding from Google’s Gradient Ventures, Advantech Capital, HP Tech Ventures, Motorola Solutions Venture Capital, Bold Capital Partners, LG Electronics, Kakao Ventures, and Stanford StartX.

Founded out of Saratoga, California in 2015, Mojo Vision more or less exited stealth back in November, when it revealed it had raised $50 million in funding since its inception three years before. Aside from that, the startup didn’t reveal a whole lot about what it’s been cooking up — however, it did tout its AR-infused “invisible computing” platform that will deliver “immediate, powerful, and relevant” information minus the distractions of today’s mobile devices.

While the likes of Microsoft’s HoloLens and Magic Leap are developing gnarly AR smarts that rely on chunky headwear, it seems that Mojo Vision could be building something that blends into the environment — perhaps contact lenses or a similar form factor.

“Mojo Vision is taking on a big challenge — to rethink how people receive and share information in a way that is immediate and relevant, without diverting their attention,” said Mojo Vision CEO Drew Perkins.

Perkins previously cofounded optical networking company Infinera, which went public back in 2007. He has also founded three companies that were acquired, including Gainspeed, which specialized in improving cable network capacity and was snapped up by Nokia in 2016.

With a fresh $58 million in financing under its belt, the startup will be better-positioned to get its technology into the public sphere, Perkins added.

“In addition to advancing critical technologies, this capital moves Mojo closer to initial customer pilots and strategic partnerships,” he said.

AI factor

Google announced its new Gradient Ventures fund back in 2017, and the focus for this fund has been squarely on early-stage AI startups. That Gradient has invested in Mojo Vision strongly suggests there will be a significant AI element to its product.

“The potential for artificial intelligence to provide access to information effortlessly and contextually without distraction is compelling,” said Anna Patterson, managing partner at Gradient Ventures. “Gradient’s investment in Mojo Vision represents our keen interest in using AI to look beyond today’s mobile form factors and develop new ways to connect the world to important information.”

A number of companies are currently pushing to make AR “invisible,” one of which is Amazon-backed North, which recently launched $999 Alexa-powered holographic glasses. Last month, North dropped the price of its Focals glasses by nearly half, followed by news that the company had laid off 150 employees, thought to be around a third of its workforce.

If nothing else, this served as a timely reminder of how precarious hardware startups can be and how resource-intensive it is to bring such new products to market.

It goes without saying that Mojo Vision, whatever it’s working on, will need as much capital as it can get.

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