Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Friday, May 20, 2022

Startup Touts ‘Mixed Reality’ for IoT apps 

A Google-backed startup emerging from stealth mode this week is pitching a concept called the "real world web," a cloud-based platform designed to capitalize on emerging virtual reality technology to deliver "mixed reality." Big league ballparks are among the early adopters.

Xperiel emerged Thursday (Aug. 11) to announce a $7 million initial funding round that includes several Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) board members, Sun Microsystems cofounder Andy Bechtolsheim and Major League Baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers. The Sunnyvale, Calif., company said it would used the cash infusion to advance its cloud platform, which is called "a key component needed to deliver mixed reality experiences to consumers" via its real world web.

Investors also touted the startup as plugging a technology gap in the emerging Internet of Things. "By orchestrating interactions between any physical, digital or IoT connected asset, Xperiel has introduced the engine to power the real world web,” Brad O’Neill, an Xperiel founding investor and senior vice president at SurveyMonkey, asserted in a statement unveiling the startup.

Xperial insists its platform can help unify the physical and virtual worlds to deliver "mixed reality experiences" to consumers. Its platform is designed to provide the tools for building and hosting a web-based view of the world. The projected real world web would connect hardware and software to IoT implementations. It also could be used to build cloud-based applications while delivering mixed reality applications to consumers across different operating systems or connected devices.

The platform includes a graphical programming language based on earlier Ph.D. research by Xperiel founders Alex Hertel, CEO, and Philipp Hertel, the startup's CTO. (The brothers previously founded Walleto, which was acquired by Google to form the basis of Google Wallet.) The cloud-based pebbling language is intended to reduce application development time while preventing apps from "delivering stale interactions."

Meanwhile, cloud-native apps would run on any device regardless of OS or platform, the startup asserted.

The company further claims it can link "past, present and future" hardware and software to the IoT via what it calls a "universal trigger fabric" that launches its applications through existing sensors built into smartphones and wearables along with virtual and augmented reality headsets.

The platform is therefore being positioned as necessary infrastructure for the IoT, including early use cases such as "experiential marketing for mobile devices at scale." The startup asserts it can go beyond intrusive "pop-up" ads while circumventing ad-blocking technologies.

Among the use cases is the digitization of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. The National League team said it is using Xperiel's platform to connect to fans via mobile phones to offer interactive features like personalized greetings on the stadium's giant video screens. The platform is "turning our park and everything in it into a giant physical­digital ecosystem, where every inch of real estate can become digitally interactive," a Dodger official said in a testimonial.

Other early stage investors include Google board member Diane Greene outgoing Stanford University President John Hennessy, Intuit (NASDAQ: INTU) cofounder Scott Cook, Dave Scially of the National Basketball Association's Golden State Warriors, professional baseball team owner Gary Green and Uber cofounder Garrett Camp.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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