Augmented reality firm CastAR shuts down, will liquidate everything

castar funding problems shutdown gaming glasses 03
CastAR, the augmented reality firm founded by ex-Valve hardware developers Jerri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson, is shutting its doors for good. Following reported issues with continued funding, the company has laid off most of its staff, shut down its internal development studio, and begun liquidating all assets.

When Valve decided to put its considerable financial and developmental muscle behind virtual reality technology like SteamVR and the HTC Vive, rather than augmented reality, Ellsworth and Johnson were allowed to take their AR developments with them to found a new venture. They did so, and achieved strong early success with a well-received Kickstarter campaign and an early funding round, which saw some $15 million injected into the company (as per Polygon).

The following years also seemed to be going rather well. While encouraged to start from scratch with their developments, all that extra funding meant original backers were refunded even though prototype headsets were still sent out. Although the plan was to launch a brand-new headset as soon as the close of 2017, when it came to finding the funding for that final push across the line, it just wasn’t there.

According to reports from now former employees, the company’s main backer, finance group Playground Global, refused to provide additional funding, and a Series B round failed to generate the required investment to see the project through to completion. That left the founders in the unenviable position of informing “less than 70,” employees that they were to be let go.

A small group of employees reportedly remains on with the company for now, while it tries to sell off the core technology that CastAR has developed over the past few years.

This news is rather a surprising turn for the company, which was not only seemingly close to realizing its hardware’s potential, but also expanded as recently as late 2016. Developers from game studio Eat Sleep Play partnered with a number of former Disney and Avalanche developers to found a new augmented reality studio working under the CastAR banner. They too have been let go as part of this move.

While we have yet to hear any big, official announcement on this news and why CastAR has struggled financially as of late, its failings could be representative of the augmented reality market not being quite ready for prime time yet. When we spoke with HTC about its possible venture into AR, head of Vive Dan O’ Brien told us that we’re still a few years away from it becoming viable.


Seedling for Magic Leap is the most expensive plant you’ll ever take care of

Insomniac Games has officially launched its new game for Magic Leap One, called 'Seedling.' Throughout the game, you can nurture your very own life form wherever you are. In our demo with Seedling, we got to check out if the game is worth…

Chinese court upholds Qualcomm's complaint that Apple infringed on two patents

Apple is following the FTC's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.
Emerging Tech

Here’s all the best gear and gadgetry you can snag for $100 or less

A $100 bill can get you further than you might think -- so long as you know where to look. Check out our picks for the best tech under $100, whether you're in the market for headphones or a virtual-reality headset.

From the road to your wrist, see how Android has evolved over the past 10 years

Android started out as just a mobile operating system, but 10 years in it's pretty much everywhere. Check out our round-up of all the different Android variations that have cropped up so far, and what might be coming in the future.

Oculus VR could upgrade the Rift with a new display in 2019

Oculus could be set to release a new version of its Rift headset in 2019, but it will be more of a modest upgrade than a true sequel. The Rift S, as its purportedly called, will have a new display, and inside-out tracking.

Google awarded patent for using eye tracking to detect expressions in VR

Google was awarded a patent that involves using eye tracking to infer facial expressions using machine learning in virtual reality. The tech could help make virtual reality a whole lot more immersive than it already is.
Virtual Reality

Prototype Valve VR headset leaked: HTC Vive challenger confirmed?

Leaked images revealed that a Valve VR headset is in development, even amid Valve's partnership with HTC for the HTC Vive. Sources confirmed the device, which may be bundled with a Half-Life VR game.

Immerse yourself in a new universe with these incredible PSVR games

The PSVR has surpassed expectations and along with it comes an incredible catalog of games. There's plenty of amazing experiences to be had so we've put together a list of the best PSVR games available today.
Virtual Reality

Is the Vive Pro better than the original Vive? Our answer might surprise you

HTC Vive vs. Vive Pro, which comes out on top? That's the subject of our latest comparison, which looks at everything from tracking solutions, to controllers, and the brand new headset that could set a new standard for VR.

The best HTC Vive games available today

So you’re considering an HTC Vive, but don't know which games to get? Our list of 25 of the best HTC Vive games will help you out, whether you're into rhythm-based gaming, interstellar dogfights, or something else entirely.

A Google patent shows a way to make VR even more immersive

Virtual reality can be a really immersive experience, but it does sometimes it does have boundaries. Google has addressed this problem by patenting shoes with a flexible region on the bottom.
Virtual Reality

Think virtual reality is just for games? These awesome apps will change your mind

Virtual reality isn't all about gaming. Swim with turtles, paint in 3D, and immerse yourself in some unique experiences the platform has to offer with our curated list of the best VR apps.

Dive head first into the best experiences available now on the Oculus Rift

The Oculus Rift brought back virtual reality and put a modern twist to it. Grab your Touch Controllers, put on your VR headset, and jump into the fun with some of the best Oculus Rift games available now.
Virtual Reality

Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive: Prices drop, but our favorite stays the same

The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are the two big names in the virtual reality arena, but most people can only afford one. Our comparison tells you which is best when you pit the Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive.