When we caught up with CREAL and its light-field tech at CES 2020 this week, the founders also filled us in on the latest happenings with the company, including the closure of a recent funding round which, between investments and grants, brought in $7.4 million.

CREAL is building a novel light-field display for AR and VR headsets which promises to make virtual imagery more natural by more accurately modeling the way that light from the real world actually interacts with the human eye. At CES 2020 this week we saw the latest progress the company has made toward shrinking its hulking prototype down to size.

CREAL’s latest light-field prototype | Photo by Road to VR

We also learned that, as of last month, the company quietly secured an additional ~$7.4 million in funding to continue development of the tech.

The bulk of the funding comes from a Series A financing round in which CREAL raised 4.3 million CHF (~$4.41 million). The round was led co-led by Swiss investment firms Investiere and DAA Capital Partners, with participation by tech entrepreneur Ariel Luedi and existing investors from SICTIC.

CREAL also picked up 2.5 million CHF ($2.56 million) as a grant from the European Innovation Council, and another 500K CHF ($514K) as a subsidized loan from the Fondation pour l’Innovation Technologique.

As a ‘deep tech’ startup working on a technology as intangible and difficult to explain as light-fields, it’s impressive that CREAL has managed to convince investors of the value of its tech. The new funding will greatly extend the CREAL’s runway.

At CES 2020 this week, CREAL founders told Road to VR that the company doesn’t intend to create or market a light-field headset itself. Instead it plans to be a creator and licenser of the technology, and work with partners who want to use the tech in their own headsets. CREAL says it’s already sending development kits to select partners which are interested in the light-field display.

A mockup of CREAL’s target form-factor | Photo by Road to VR

Following the static-mounted demo we saw at CES 2020 this week, CREAL believes that it will have its first head-mounted prototype working within the next six months. The goal is to bring the tech down to size, first to fit into VR headsets, and then eventually AR glasses.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Kim from Texas

    A light field display is what magic leap promised, but never delivered. I often wonder if the early Magic Leap prototypes that were shown to journalists were actually light field displays. I hope that CREAL can deliver what magic leap promised.

    • Scarlet

      Well CREAL is definitely building light fields and it seems unlike magic leap they aren’t trying to be a unicorn company and actually have dedicated engineers. So I’m hopeful, I just don’t think it will come out soon

      • Mike Porter

        To be fair to Magic Leap engineers they really do exist and publish research papers. I can only guess judging by the publication dates that they hired the proper engineers well after becoming a unicorn startup or in other words starting collecting money without knowing there was a solution in the first place.

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    • starchaser28

      Great point. And if CREAL can deliver we’ll likely see a lot of investment money change hands from Magic Leap to CREAL (unless contracts prevent it). Hopefully Magic Leap doesn’t poison the AR investment well for other promising AR tech companies. I’m surprised NReal hasn’t received more yet.

  • SiberianBane

    Is CREAL the same as NREAL? I remember hearing about their AR stuff last year

    • Moe Curley

      Is Apple the same a Snapple?

    • benz145

      Nope, different companies.

  • Good for them!

  • Adil H

    Except for natural 3D, the AR object must look clairely virtual, there should be always a separation from real and virtual for AR to succeed, for example when drive a car wearing AR glasses, but for VR it will be like a dream lucide.