Augmented Reality Gaming Company, Ogmento, Raises $3.5 Million in Series A Funding

--Company's Offerings Include Technology that Lets Users "Sketch Images and Watch them Come to Life"
--metaio Partners on AR App with Portland's Regional Transit Agency, TriMet

Augmented reality gaming company, Ogmento, said Wednesday that it has closed a $3.5 million Series A funding round. The round was led by Chart Venture Partners, with participation from CNF Investments and various private investors. Ogmento claims to be the first AR gaming company to have secured institutional investment.

Ogmento says that it will use the funding to build out its development teams in New York City and Los Angeles, as well as to expand the core features of its technology platform as it prepares to release several new game titles over the coming year. "This investment allows us to expand our operations to support our growth while putting development resources into our own intellectual property," Ogmento co-founder and CEO, Ori Inbar, said in a prepared statement. "Chart and CNF bring a strong track record of identifying disruptive technologies early, and working with founders to build strong companies." Added Chart Venture Partners partner, Cole Van Nice: "We've been evaluating the fast-evolving AR industry for over a year, and believe that Ogmento is uniquely positioned to lead the charge for the industry. It has an incredibly unique mix of mainstream video game industry executives, AR industry thought leaders, and world-class researchers and scientists. We're delighted to be the first VC to provide funding to a company focused on augmented reality games, and I'm confident that together we can help Ogmento continue to build on its position as a market leader."

As part of the financing transaction, Matthew McCooe of Chart Venture Partners and Joe Del Guercio of CNF will join Ogmento's board, whose other members are the company's founders, Inbar, Brad Foxhoven and Brian Selzer. In addition, Chart's Van Nice, will join Ogmento's management team as COO to help drive strategic planning, the company says.

Ogmento says that it has developed interactive augmented reality experiences for Penguin Publishing, SAP, Orange Telecom, Smith and Nephew, and PBS. According to the company, it is currently producing games in collaboration with leading media, CPG and sports enterprises and will continue to partner with game developers and AR labs around the world. Games currently in development by the company include 1) "Put Spell" (see embedded video above) an educational iPhone game that encourages children to learn to spell by interacting with a 3D panda--according to the company, the game was designed in collaboration with literacy experts, allows players to "grab real cards and drop them into virtual blank spaces," and recognizes and pronounces letters; and 2) "Sketch AR," an iPhone game that the company promises will allow users to "sketch images and watch them come to life...animated in 3D. The user can interact with the game by creating, modifying, and presenting original sketches, simply by drawing and pointing them to the camera," the

company claims, adding that the sketch technology that powers the game "will be used as a natural way for creating Augmented Reality games and user-generated content experiences." Ogmento also recently developed an app to promote the launch of the iPhone by Orange Telecom Israel (see embedded video above). According to the company, the app allows users to point their iPhone to an Orange logo, in order to activate a "virtual iPhone." Users can then "use finger gestures to turn the iPhone around, zoom in or out--or even launch applications," the company says. In addition to the iPhone, Ogmento says it is developing AR apps for Android, PC's and game consoles.

In other AR news: Munich-based augmented reality specialist, metaio, said Wednesday that it has formed a partnership with Portland, Oregon regional transit agency, TriMet, to integrate transit data--including station locations, bus routes and estimated arrival times--into a TriMet channel on its flagship junaio 2.0 mobile augmented reality platform (note: junaio 2.0, which is offered free of charge, is currently available for the iPhone and is slated to be available on Android devices in the near future). According to the company, the app works "by letting you pan around with your phone's viewfinder and then marking nearby transit stops, distances, and real-time live schedules of upcoming transit. For example," the company says, "a rider, by simply pointing her phone's camera, can find the direction of the nearest bus station and gets a list of estimated arrivals for the next several buses to her destination." The app, which utilizes open data feeds from TriMet, also offers a Map and List view feature.

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