Augmented reality gaming startup Ogmento raised $3.5 million in venture funding from Chart Venture Partners and CNF Investments, the company announced this morning.
Augmented reality (AR) involves computer graphics overlayed on live displays of the physical world.
To take an extremely simple case, think of the glowing yellow line representing the first-down markers in televisions of football games.
Over the past few years, a handful of games for smartphones have been developed that involve basic elements of AR using the phones’ cameras.
Firefighter 360, for instance, adds virtual flames to your camera feed, letting you fight fires all around you. Check it out:
Ogmento cofounder and CEO Ori Inbar calls this sort of app “pseudo-AR”, because these apps add graphics to the world without understanding anything about the objects they’re looking at. True AR, according to Ori, requires that a program analyse what its looking at — think Google Goggles.
The first game Ogmento is developing, Put A Spell, is an educational iPhone app for small children. An animated panda interacts with the user, and challenges him to spell words. When the user points the phone at a letter, the panda pronounces it.
Further down the line, Ogmento is working on games for a wider audience, which will be able to recognise a wide range of objects, turning the world into a one big gaming space. This has long been the promise of AR, but so far, no one has been able to do a good enough job to make it widely marketable.
Ogmento is based in New York City and Los Angeles. The funds will be used to hire more staff, as the company gears up to release 2-3 AR games by the end of the year.