Brelyon, an MIT spin-off, first demonstrated its technology at CES in Las Vegas in January. He’s announcing today that he’s raised a good amount of money, and I spoke to the company’s CEO to find out what he’s up to as he garners attention with his headless monitors.
“The future of human/computer experience will inevitably be about increasing immersion and intelligence. We’ve been experimenting with VR and wearables for a decade, and it turns out that most people really don’t like wearing things on their face for long periods of time,” Barmak Heshmat, CEO of Brelyon, explains what motivates him. build this company. “People have been using screens for a long time for 50 years. Our logic is pretty simple: if we could give you half the immersion of a headset with a device that doesn’t have to be on your face and works with all your existing content, that would be a much more compelling progression of your computing experience, and therefore, a better bridge to the nascent metaverse .”
Investors seem to agree with the thesis; Brelyon announced today that it has raised $15 million in Series A funding led by Lockheed Martin and the MIT-affiliated E14 Fund, with participation from Corning, LG Technology Ventures, UDC Ventures (the corporate arm of Universal Display Corporation) and Franklin Templeton. The LG connection is especially important; the company has been known to put on an exhibition or two, and its interest in Brelyon could be interpreted as a high-stakes marker for keeping close control (and, presumably, rights to information) over the company.
Lockheed Martin as the round leader is also significant; the company unlocks the customer pipeline.
“Our main investors are Lockheed Martin Ventures and E14, an MIT-affiliated fund,” notes Heshmat. “E14 is a deep tech venture fund that invests in MIT spin-offs and allows us to stay connected to MIT’s talent pool and cutting edge technology ecosystem. Lockheed Martin Ventures allows us to really leverage early adopters in the company.”
The company told me it has integrated more than 20 companies into its early access program, and the investment will help Brelyon grow those pilot programs and establish itself in the corporate market.
“In the short term, they will focus on building a foundation in manufacturing and software. Specifically, I’m excited about scaling some of the more elementary architectures of these virtual displays. This eliminates many of our production setups and improves the economics of our units,” explains Heshmat. “Some of these product developments can be broadly applied to a large set of products in the future, not just our Ultra Reality product line. We are also excited about our partnership with LG Display and look forward to building the foundation with them to take this from the enterprise market to the larger metaversal market.”
The company operates in a really interesting market; Computer monitors are nothing new, but real innovation seems to have more or less stagnated. 4K screens for sure. Bigger, higher resolution, yes. Lower prices for better quality, absolutely. But really, the last big change was from big, heavy CRT monitors to flat screens about 20 years ago.
“I think in 10 years we’ll look back at 2D displays and our computer experience today and feel the same way we do now about CRT monitors and DOS operating systems,” agrees Heshmat. “These virtual or photonic representations are like the superhighway to the metaspace; they would completely disrupt the way you do anything with computers. From immersive face-to-face video conferencing and displays that can replace six 32-inch screens in resolution and field of view, to AI-assisted content generation and tandem visual computing to empower knowledge workers, I see a world where we are fully immersed, but not isolated, by our screens.”
With the company’s patented light field technology, Brelyon’s Ultra Reality uses “precise wavefront engineering to create a massive field of view with layers of true optical depth, creating an immersive panoramic virtual display that envelops the viewer without the need for a headset.” Quite a bit, but the technology is as interesting as it is advanced. And, of course, it involves a huge pile of hardware to make all of this possible, which is also… the opposite of boring.
“With hardware, everything takes time. Our mission is to really eliminate unnecessary processes as much as possible, but there are still many things that need to come together for the new technology to scale. So there’s not really a big challenge that’s like an obstacle, but a lot of little things that add up,” explains Heshmat. “Managing market risk and capital is very important with new technologies, and the best way to address this is to work with and focus on the most prominent clients in each vertical.”