There are several themes I’m currently excited about investing in. In an attempt to attract founders working in these areas and garner alternative perspectives, I decided to put together the following post. Any and all feedback is welcome and if you’re early-stage company working in an area outlined below, please get in touch.
Augmented Reality 1.0 — While the notion of a fully capable and ergonomic headset is appealing, I don’t believe it’s happening anytime soon. We’ll get there, eventually, but in the meantime there are interesting opportunities in AR 1.0. For example, a pair of glasses with an integrated speaker, microphone, and bluetooth connectivity combined with a voice assistant can provide all kinds of location based notification capabilities. Amazon, Google and anyone else working on a voice assistant would ultimately benefit from such a device (rumors are Amazon is already working on this) but substantial brand value can be gained today figuring out the hardware, style, battery life, audio and user experience. Building out a user base and loyalty with a product like this would put the right company in a strong position for the future of AR.
Anything but emissive displays — Chances are you’re reading this post on a screen beaming light into your eyeballs. Whether LED, LCD, or OLED, these emissive (or backlit) displays work by shining light through filters, and directly into your retina. This can be harsh and different from how we naturally see the world, where light reflects off objects and into our eyes. The short term effects range from eye fatigue to sleep problems and we’re only beginning to understand the long-term effects. We will need to find new ways to interface with technology. Voice is certainly one alternative as is reflective display technology. Common examples are e-readers where an external light source reflects off the screen and into your eyes, just like print. Refresh rates and color have historically been a problem limiting usage to basic reading, but there are companies like Halion Displays are developing reflective displays capable of rich video and color (I’m an investor). As there is no backlight, reflective displays are also far more energy efficient. The long term vision being that reflective displays with resolution and color that match print and refresh rates that match emissive monitors will provide a more natural and comfortable experience.
Repetition by robotics — In 1589 Queen Elizabeth refused to grant a patent for a mechanical knitting machine out of fear of putting thousands of knitters out of work. The same fear exists today around robotics but has been proven incorrect time and time again. In fact, robots completing repetitive, at times dangerous tasks, helps drive innovation in new areas better fit for the creative, intelligent human mind. One such company working in the space is Dishcraft Robotics, a company building robotic equipment for commercial kitchens enabling more efficient, hygienic and humanizing operations (Also an investor). They’re largely in stealth at the moment but big things are on the horizon for this company. At the moment, I’m particularly interested in companies building robotic solutions in the areas of sewing and environmental scanning.
These three themes are active areas of interest but I’m also excited about many other topics. If you’re building a company around defensible, innovative technology and would like to talk, please drop me email me greg at anorak dot vc.