Collaborative Augmented Reality (AR) startup Blue Vision Labs has secured $14.5m (£10.37m) in a Series A round led by GV.

Using Blue Vision Lab’s AR cloud platform, developers will be able to turn entire cities into digital canvases upon which the first shareable AR experiences can be built.

The British startup, which has until now been operating in stealth, uses cloud-based computer vision technology to create AR experiences that can be viewed across multiple mobile phones at once. Existing investors Accel, Horizons Ventures, SV Angel and others also participated in the latest round, bringing the company’s total raised to $17m. 

Peter Ondruska, CEO and co-founder at Blue Vision Labs, said of the funding: “The ability to create shared, persistent AR applications has long been the missing piece in an industry that’s estimated to be worth $83bn by 2021. We’re only just scratching the surface of what our technology could bring to countless industries.”

Blue Vision Labs’ software will also be available on smartphones, meaning consumers will not have to use a dedicated AR headset. 

Speaking about the technology, Ondruska added: “Right now, all augmented reality is a single-user experience, because the component that connects everything together has been missing. We have built exactly this – a high-accuracy AR map of entire cities stored in the cloud, which houses AR content and allows the phone to determine its precise position based only on what it sees.”

“This has never been possible before, and it will allow developers to do things like build intuitive AR navigation where virtual arrows guide you to your destination, show a marker on top of your taxi in ride-sharing applications so you know which one is yours, and build multi-player AR games,” he added. For example, if you place comments and recommendations on top of restaurants, your friend will be able to see it in exactly the same place, from their own phone.  

As a result of the investment, Tom Hulme, general partner at GV, will be joining the board. He said of the decision to invest in Blue Vision Labs: “We gravitate towards companies with deeply technical teams, and the backgrounds of the Blue Vision Labs founding team are world class.”

“Using Blue Vision Labs’ SDK, smartphones can unlock an entirely new augmented reality, bringing together digital and analog worlds in an entirely new way. We’ve looked closely at emerging AR and VR technologies, and Blue Vision Labs stood out in its ability to deliver on the promise of shared augmented reality applications,” he added.

GV’s activity

To date, GV has invested in over 300 companies across Europe and the US, and has £1.9bn in funds.

In Europe, the firm has invested across sectors including healthcare and life sciences, artificial intelligence and FinTech. Besides big players like Uber, Slack and Medium, other portfolio companies include Blockchain, Carrick Therapeutics, Cambridge Epigenetix, Currencycloud, Genomics Medicine Ireland, and Kobalt.

Ondruska, CEO and co-founder, said GV will help bring his product to market: “A lot of investors are only interested in quick returns; we are here for the long haul, and want to enable developers to succeed and build great things.” 

So, what advice does Ondruska have for entrepreneurs who are dreaming of such an investment? “It is very important to focus on the mission and building an impactful product. It needs to appeal to the right kind of people – do this, and you’ll end up working with amazing engineers and being backed by great investors,” he said. 

Blue Vision Labs was founded in Oxford in 2011 by Ondruska, Lukas Platinsky, Hugo Grimmett, Andrej Pancik and Bryan Baum. It’s taken the team two years of ‘intensive’ R&D to develop their underlying technology.

Now that they’ve secured Series A funding, they will be opening up their platform to early adopters, and recruiting engineers, researchers, and product experts.