XPANCEO, a deep tech startup, has raised a $40 million seed round to launch the first contact lenses with Augmented Reality (AR) vision features. The round was led by Hong Kong-based Opportunity Ventures (Asia). The funds will be invested to launch the next prototype, in which the company will gather several features in one device.
XPANCEO has created and successfully tested three separate prototypes to enable night vision and zoom, real-time health monitoring, and the ability to see video and graphic content in AR. The new device, which is the world’s first ultra thin lens, feels as natural to the wearer as their own vision. It’s made from advanced optical materials (including low-dimensional and van der Waals materials), which exhibit record-breaking refractive indices and anisotropy. The new device is aimed to unleash the full potential of AR technology by making it accessible and easy to use.
”We’re targeting the $790 billion AR and Contact Lens market, and creating the first device in the market that will allow us to use all apps and software in a single contact lens interface,” explained co-founder and Scientific Partner, Valentyn S. Volkov. “Our device will effectively merge all your gadgets into one.” The startup has also been lauded for its technological prowess, ranking amongst the top five optic labs worldwide by global consultancy BCG.
Current research pin the market size of AR contact lens at $61 billion in 2023, according to Research and Markets.
The startup combines over 20 patented technologies in Advanced Optic and Photonics, Novel material, AI, and Neural Interfacing to create ultra-compact and highly efficient optoelectronic devices in smart contact lenses. They are paving the way for a gradual transition from traditional silicon technologies to the “graphene valley” future.
The high refractive indices, coupled with the giant anisotropy of the materials used in waveguide-based devices, are key factors that enable a more efficient light bending and guiding process compared to modern optical devices. This opens up possibilities for the realisation of ultra-compact optical elements.
Another key technology developed by the startup is its flexible and transparent electronics, based on highly conductive quasi-2D metallic films with thicknesses of only a few nanometers. To engage with these technologies, they employ Artificial Intelligence to develop models capable of accurate predictions regarding the optical characteristics of similar materials. Neural Interfacing gives the user full control over the applications, without the need for awkward eye movements, blinks, or extra controllers.
XPANCEO was founded in 2021 by Ukranian scientist, Valentyn S. Volkov, and serial entrepreneur, Roman Axelrod. Their multidisciplinary team includes over 50 outstanding scientists, engineers and executive leaders from top universities, research institutions and deep tech companies. XPANCEO also collaborates with top scientists from universities around the globe, such as the Donostia International Physics Center (Spain), Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden), and the National University of Singapore (Singapore) among others.
They aim create the first all-in-one prototype by 2026. Regarding clientele, Axelrod stated that they’re “negotiating the final agreements with a motorcycle producer, an international car brand and gadget devices producer,” via email with StartupHub.ai.