Ogmento First AR Gaming Startup to Win VC Funding

I’m thrilled to be able to officially announce that Ogmento is now venture-backed. The news hit the wires today, and the story is being picked up at a tremendous rate (WSJ, Forbes, Yahoo, AOL, CNET, USA Today, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, Joystiq, and many others).

Here is the original press release –

Ogmento Raises $3.5 Million in Series A Funding From Chart Venture Partners

Becomes First Augmented Reality Gaming Company To Secure Institutional Investment

NEW YORK, May 26 /PRNewswire/ — Augmented Reality (AR) gaming company Ogmento, Inc. (“Ogmento”) today announced the closing of $3.5 million in Series A equity financing to expand development of its AR game platform and operations in New York and Los Angeles. The round was led by Chart Venture Partners with participation from CNF Investments and private investors.

Already a leading company in the burgeoning Augmented Reality gaming space, Ogmento will use the funding to build out its development teams on both coasts. The company will also use the proceeds to expand the core features of its technology as it prepares the release of several game titles in the coming year.

“This investment allows us to expand our operations to support our growth while putting development resources into our own intellectual property,” said Ori Inbar, co-founder and CEO of Ogmento. “Chart and CNF bring a strong track record of identifying disruptive technologies early, and working with founders to build strong companies.”

As part of the financing, Matthew McCooe of Chart Venture Partners and Joe Del Guercio of CNF will join Ogmento’s board of directors, along with founders Brad Foxhoven, Brian Selzer, and Inbar. Cole Van Nice, a partner with Chart, will also join Ogmento’s management team directly as COO to help drive strategic planning.

“We’re thrilled to have this level of support from our investment partners,” said co-founder and President Brian Selzer. “Given Chart’s investment activity in hardware and software areas related to AR, they understand the true potential of this technology. Adding a partner to our management team is an exciting endorsement of our business.”

Ogmento has already developed interactive Augmented Reality experiences for Penguin Publishing, SAP, Orange Telecom, Smith and Nephew, and PBS. The company is currently producing games in collaboration with leading media, CPG, and sports enterprises and will continue to partner with game developers and augmented reality labs around the world.
“We’ve been evaluating the fast evolving AR industry for over a year, and believe that Ogmento is uniquely positioned to lead the charge for the industry. It has an incredibly unique mix of mainstream video game industry executives, AR industry thought leaders, and world-class researchers and scientists,” said Cole VanNice, a partner at Chart Venture Partners. “We’re delighted to be the first VC to provide funding to a company focused on Augmented Reality games, and I’m confident that together we can help Ogmento continue to build on its position as a market leader.”

ABOUT OGMENTO
Ogmento was founded in 2009 by industry veterans committed to developing the next generation of video games. Through cutting-edge technology that overlays computer graphics onto real-world environments, Ogmento creates games that let users directly interact with their surrounding environment. The company is currently developing ground-breaking Augmented Reality (AR) content for a range of mobile devices and platforms including iPhone, Android, PC, and traditional game consoles. With founders Ori Inbar, Brad Foxhoven, Brian Selzer, Oriel Bergig and Nate Hagbi and a team of experienced game designers, animators, and award winning PhD scientists, Ogmento is ideally positioned at the epicenter of the Augmented Reality industry. For more information please visit http://ogmento.com.

AR: The Purple Pill


Things have evolved since The Matrix.

We no longer have to choose between taking the RED or the BLUE pill.

Augmented Reality offers the PURPLE pill!

I am putting together some slides for my upcoming presentations at eComm, ARE2010, etc. I thought this particular slide might serve as a nice teaser. The title of my talk is “AR: The Power of Real World Gaming,”, but “AR: The Purple Pill” certainly works as well.

For those reading this and interested in attending eComm, I’ve got 50% off codes. If you want to go, let me know.

My Conversation with James Cameron

I don’t make it a habit of sharing personal conversations on my blog, but when the individual you are exchanging ideas with happens to be James Cameron, it’s very difficult not to share (okay brag) a little.

I was invited to a private Avatar screening on the Fox Studio lot, presented by James Cameron and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The screening showed about an hours worth of the film, and focused on the strong environmental message throughout. James Cameron spoke after the film on the amazing reception the movie has made with environmentally conscious people. He discussed his passion for nature, technology, and much more (Have you seen his 3D undersea documentaries?). The irony that Avatar uses state-of-the-art “technology” to tell a story about “getting back to nature” does not get past him. It is this topic — “using technology to better the planet” that I was most interested in speaking with Mr. Cameron about.

The screening was followed by a reception, where I got to meet and speak with Mr. Cameron for about 10 minutes. We spoke primarily about Augmented Reality, which played a large role in the making and marketing of Avatar.

Coke, Mattel, and McDonald’s used Augmented Reality to integrate the Avatar brand into their cans, toys and happy meals. James Cameron also used AR technology in the filming of Avatar, to pre-visualize his actors within the CG scenes live, and in real-time. For those familiar with motion capture animation technology. Mr. Cameron pushed this further… creating a system that allowed him to observe on a monitor how the actors’ virtual counterparts interacted with the movie’s digital world in a real time environment. He was able to adjust and direct the scenes as if shooting live action, but in a computer generated world.

Mr. Cameron and I started to speak about the power of entertainment and games to motivate people to action towards bettering the world, and this is where things really got interesting. It became clear immediately that this was our shared passion… to not only entertain and engage people… but to motivate people towards good. I shared a bit about my past projects like Superdudes, and the notion of “games with goals” really resonated with Mr. Cameron.

It’s fairly clear that a movie like Avatar is a success because it delivers on many levels… beyond box office numbers, it entertains, and it gets people to think… and maybe even act! I would not be surprised if all the talk about the 3D technology and the enormous box office of Avatar are soon overshadowed by the message and impact of the movie itself on our society.

Needless to say it was a great honor to be able to talk about things like augmented reality, technology, movies, games, and the environment with James Cameron. It is my hope that the work we do at Ogmento can make a similar impact with people the way Avatar did… delivering content that immerses people into a new world… entertains, engages, challenges…and as a bonus perhaps motivates people to take action and do their part in making the world a better place.

Humanity+ Summit 2009

I will be speaking at the Humanity+ Summit this Sunday, December 6th on the subject of Augmented Reality, and how to make sure we use AR to get to an awesome future!

The H+ Summit (Organized by Humanity +) is a two day, interactive event that will explore how humanity will be radically changed by technology in the (possibly quite near) future. Over 30 visionary speakers will explore how to enhance your body, mind, life, and world…

What is going to be like to be a human in this next phase of technological progress? How can we get our heads around it so when it arrives we’re best prepared to deal with it?

We foresee the feasibility of redesigning the human condition, including such parameters as the inevitability of aging, limitations on human and artificial intellects, unchosen psychology, suffering, and our confinement to the planet earth. The possibilities are tremendously broad and exciting — and the H+ Summit will provide a venue to discuss them with like-minded individuals, and hear exciting presentations by the leaders of the ongoing H+ r/evolution.

The Summit will be held at EON Reality, Inc. – The world’s leading interactive 3D visual content management and Virtual Reality software provider.

It should be fun, I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone there.

For more on the event and a list of speakers, check out http://hplus.eventbrite.com/