|Products||Automotive navigation system|
Number of employees
WayRay is a technology company with offices in Switzerland, United States, China, Hong Kong, Germany, and Russia. It develops holographic AR technologies for connected cars. WayRay's in-house R&D center and prototyping facilities create holographic optical systems, complex mechanics, electronics, and software.
According to Vitaly Ponomarev, company’s founder, the idea of a device that projects navigational information on the windshield of the car came to him after the accident into which he got when he was distracted by the GPS navigator. The concept was gradually supplemented by the Internet connection, mechanics of the social network and augmented reality. By December 2011, the idea became a project of a portable collimator to install on a car’s front panel. Using a thin holographic film on the windshield instead of a mirror system made it possible to reduce the dimensions of the device. In the spring of 2012, the device was presented for the first time.
In March 2013, the company was named Best Startup at Seedstars World Moscow, part of the Swiss group Seedstars. In October 2013, WayRay took the prize at the Intel Global Challenge, UC Berkeley, California, and the following month got shortlisted as a finalist at Slush, a startup competition in Helsinki, Finland.
In 2015, L’Hebdo, a weekly French-language news magazine in Switzerland, listed Ponomarev among 100 outstanding innovators of Switzerland. In November 2017, at the LA Auto Show, WayRay was selected as the grand prize winner of the 2017 Top Ten Automotive Startups Competition.
WayRay’s achievements have been covered by various media: in 2013, Business Insider magazine listed WayRay among the 11 Hottest Startups in Northern Europe; in 2017, Wired magazine included WayRay in the Top 10 Startups Racing to Remake The Auto Industry. Later in 2018, VentureBeat named the company one of “7 promising tech startups shaking up the auto industry.”
Initial capital of WayRay was 12 million rubles of personal and borrowed funds of the founder, which was aimed at designing electronics and developing a chemical formula of the film, later ordered at DuPont. In 2013, the project attracted a syndicated investment deal involving three business angels and two Russian funds for a total of $1.6 million. By mid-2016, the company invested $10.6 million in development. In his talk with the Reuters reporter, Ponomarev noted that he had held about 500 negotiation sessions to find suitable investors, including “AFK “Sistema” of Vladimir Yevtushenkov, “Zertum-Invest” of Filipp Polianski.
In 2017, the Chinese internet giant Alibaba Group led an $18 million Series B round. In September 2018, the company raised another $80 million in Series C round led by Porsche. As of then, WayRay had a valuation of $500 million.
The company plans to bring two devices and one development platform:
- Element - a device that includes a gyroscope, an accelerometer and Bluetooth and GLONASS / GPS modules, it connects to the OBD-II port and collects information about the driver's behavior, speed, fuel consumption and vehicle condition. The collected information is available in digital form. The mobile application provides recommendations for improving driving skills based on this information, and the entertainment feature Autoyoga offers to pass quests.
- Navion - a navigation system for cars which uses holographic augmented reality technology. Navion consists of a projection system and a visor with an embedded transparent holographic optical element. The device is compact and mounts onto the car’s dashboard. The device is gesture-controlled, includes 3G, Bluetooth and GLONASS / GPS modules, a native mobile app and uses its own navigation software.
- True AR SDK - an augmented reality development framework for third-party developers which allows building AR apps for cars. These are the apps that run on holographic AR displays and complement the native AR interface. AR app content consists of virtual objects seamlessly integrated into the world around the car. The company plans to distribute the developed applications through its own AR marketplace.
In November 2017 WayRay won the grand prize for the Top Ten Automotive Startups Competition at LA Auto Show. In addition to the prize money the company was granted other perks from companies represented among panel judges. Those perks included access to Microsoft Azure cloud infrastructure, a new Nvidia Drive PX 2 AI computer, an access to Elektrobit's software network for automated driving and consulting services from Porsche Consulting.
In January 2018, at the CES-2018 company had showed off its Navion navigation system for the first time. Also at CES, WayRay demonstrated its development platform True AR SDK, which is created to allow others to build augmented reality apps for automobiles. In February 2018, the company has announced a new competition seeking developers for its True SDK Challenge, a competition to create AR applications for cars.
WayRay’s business model includes both retail sales Navion Navigator and concluding OEM-contracts with automakers on the supply of AR-system. In December 2015, the company announced a partnership agreement with the French provider of telecommunications services, Orange Business Services, under which it will provide wireless connection and maintenance of WayRay products in the US.
In January 2017, at the CES-2017 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the company announced a strategic partnership with the US automotive electronics manufacturer Harman International Industries and the planned introduction of WayRay technologies into Harman's solutions for automakers. The autonomous concept car Oasis of the Swiss company Rinspeed was presented at the exhibition. It is equipped with the infotainment system with augmented reality developed by WayRay. The following year, WayRay debuted the results of its collaboration with Honda and rejoined Honda Xcelerator Showcase in Shanghai at CES Asia 2018, to publicly present its holographic AR display prototype in the Asia-Pacific Region.
Banma Technologies, a joint venture between Alibaba Group and Chinese auto concern SAIC Motor, is a WayRay’s partner which works with carmakers on its behalf. Pilot implementation of the system is planned in one of the production cars.
At Startup Autobahn 2018, Europe’s largest innovation platform initiated by Daimler AG and Plug and Play, WayRay announced its joint pilot project with the German automobile manufacturer Porsche and took home the People’s Choice Award and the prize in the AR/VR category. The company also cooperates with a number of automakers on several future vehicles, which will be presented in 2019 and subsequent years.
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