HaptX Inc., the leading provider of realistic haptic technology, today announced it has raised an additional $12 million dollars and made a significant deal with AIS to scale its production and marketing. HaptX Gloves allow professional VR users to develop simulations with realistic touch feedback and natural interaction. HaptX has been pivoting toward this moment since it was founded in 2012 by Jake Rubin and Dr. Bob Crockett with the ambition of being a full-body motion platform, sort of free roam VR, but in place. The gloves are its first commercial product. “We’re laser-focused on enterprise now,” CEO Rubin told me.
Enterprise customers are using HaptX Gloves in VR design, training, and robotics. Earlier this year, HaptX announced a collaboration with Nissan that brought touch to the automaker’s virtual vehicle prototypes. Fundamental Surgery integrated HaptX Gloves into their VR medical training platform. HaptX unveiled a first-of-its-kind haptic telerobot developed with All Nippon Airways, Tangible Research, and Shadow Robot Company. In a widely publicized demo, Jeff Bezos described the system as “really impressive” and remarked that “the tactile feedback is tremendous.” We demonstrated the system at SXSW in March 2019, and can attest to detailed and realistic tactile sensations HaptX gloves deliver, like a mouse walking across your palm, or rain.
“Over the past year, we completed dozens of pilot projects with global companies, including 11 customers from the Global Fortune 500 and government agencies.” Said Rubin. “Over 50 companies are developing on the HaptX SDK. The US Army funded the integration of HaptX Gloves into their TC3Sim combat medic training module. These strong success stories and our high market demand validated the market for HaptX Gloves, and our partnership with AIS positions us well to meet this demand.”
AIS has over 800 employees with offices in five countries located across North America, Asia, and Europe. They’re a provider of human-machine interface (HMI) solutions, and work with many Fortune 500 companies. As an engineering and manufacturing company who typically doesn’t produce products under their own brand, AIS is not widely known outside the industry, although they’ve designed and manufactured many millions of units across thousands of individual products over the past 40 years.
“The partnership is a huge value add to HaptX and positions us to produce HaptX Gloves at scale,” said Rubin. “It’s a comprehensive partnership with significant positive financial implications for HaptX, comparable to our Series A round. The partnership includes development, manufacturing, and go-to-market collaboration.”
HaptX announced a seed round of $5.8M in December of 2016, led by NetEase (NASDAQ:NTES), a leading internet technology company in China, and Dawn Patrol Ventures. NetEase and Amit Kaput of Dawn Patrol both participated in the new Series A round as well. The company raised a $1.2M pre-seed round prior, for $7m in total Seed-stage funding. HaptX’s new $12 million Series A funding, brings the company’s total funding to $19 million.
The funds will primarily be used for the manufacturing and sales of the next generation of HaptX gloves. The company is also investing in further research and development that will bring new features, enhanced haptic fidelity, and new applications to future HaptX products.
HaptX declined to give more specifics about pricing, launch date, and the number of haptic gloves it thinks it can sell. We couldn’t help but ask Rubin about the consumer market. “We see potential for consumers to access the technology at scale via location-based entertainment venues in the next few years. We’d prefer not to speculate on at-home consumer use,” he responded.