Vancouver-based technology company RealWear has announced a successful $80 million funding round. The company says it will use the money to substantially expand its operations, with the potential to nearly double the number of employees at its Vancouver headquarters by the end of the year.
RealWear specializes in computers that are worn by workers in industrial settings. The company was founded in California in 2017 and moved its headquarters to its current office at 600 Hathaway Road in Vancouver later that year, although its design team still works out of an office in California.
The company’s core product is the HMT-1, a voice-controlled augmented reality headset with an adjustable arm that holds a small screen to the side of the user’s face. Users can call up information for reference without having to use their hands or divert their attention from the task in front of them.
The headsets use an adapted version of the Android operating system and are designed to be clipped to the brim of construction hard hats. The company also offers a version called HMT-1Z1 which is “intrinsically safe” — an industry term for devices that have been certified to have no risk of spark or static discharge, allowing them to be used in restricted environments where explosive gases are present such as oil facilities or pharmaceutical plants.
The new Series B funding round was led by Teradyne, a Massachusetts-based electronics testing and industrial automation firm. Other investors including Bose Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures, Kopin Corporation and JPMorgan Chase & Co.
“RealWear has created a powerful platform that aligns with our vision for a safer, more productive work environment powered by easy-to-use, rapid (return on investment) automation solutions,” said Mark Jagiela, Teradyne CEO and president.
The new investment brings RealWear’s total private financing to more than $100 million. The funds are a combination of equity and debt, and RealWear says it plans to devote them to further expansion of its global market as well as speeding up development of its technology.
The biggest investor in the company’s Series A funding round was Vancouver-based Columbia Ventures Corporation. RealWear CEO Andy Lowery said the company benefited early on from Columbia Ventures’ expertise in heavy industry, and sought to add business and technology leaders to its investor roster for Series B.
Columbia Ventures — as well as some of RealWear’s other early seed investors — have also increased their investments as part of the Series B round.
“The continued support of our entire ecosystem is tremendously gratifying for the entire RealWear team,” Lowery said.
RealWear touts a number of milestones in the roughly 18 months since it began selling its headsets, including more than 15,000 headsets shipped, more than 1,300 customers and more than 120 new software applications that help the headset serve workers in specific industries.
The company has also landed a series of progressively bigger clients and partners. One of the biggest was announced in February: a 200-headset pilot program with the State Grid Corporation of China. State Grid is the world’s largest utility, employing more than 900,000 people and suppling power to roughly 1.1 billion customers.
RealWear currently employs a staff of 110, according to spokesman Aaron Cohen, of whom 52 work in the Vancouver office. The headquarters has room for up to 100 people, Cohen said, and the company thinks it could be filled by the end of the year.