Andy Rubin-backed AR hardware startup CastAR reportedly shuts down


An augmented reality headset startup founded by former Valve employees and funded by Android co-creator Andy Rubin’s Playground Global is shutting down after it failed to receive further investment, Polygon reports.

CastAR was building a headset device that projected holographic images into the field-of-view of a user, similar to products being built by companies like Microsoft and Magic Leap.

Following layoffs of “less than 70” employees, a core group is attempting to sell off the company’s tech according to the report.

CastAR was founded in 2013 by Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson, who left Valve with a host of AR research (and the company’s blessing) to create AR hardware. The team went on to get just over $1 million from a Kickstarter campaign, before later returning the money to backers after raising $15 million from Playground Global and subsequently pushing back timelines for delivery of the devices.

Even as phone-based augmented reality technologies take off thanks to interest from companies like Apple and Google, the challenges in creating compelling headset hardware is proving difficult to the companies embracing the challenge. CastAR was striving to build a solution with significantly less funding than other startups like Magic Leap, which has raised a mind-boggling $1.4 billion in funding and is still reportedly facing a number of production issues.

CastAR was aiming to show off its headset this year and had created a content studio called Eat Play Sleep, which was made up of several former Disney Infinity employees. The studio has reportedly been shut down as part of the layoffs.

TechCrunch has reached out to CastAR and Playground Global for comment.

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