CastAR has closed its doors, report suggests

Ben Parfitt
CastAR has closed its doors, report suggests

An augmented reality studio founded by two former Valve employees has ceased operations.

That's according to Polygon, which reports that CastAR and closed its internal development studio Eat Sleep Play and laid off around 70 members of staff across its Palo Alto and Salt Lake City offices.

A group of workers remain in an effort to sell off the currently owned technologies, it is alleged. It is also claimed that the staff has been told that everything will be liquidated.

CastAR had planned to launch a new pair of self-contained AR glasses some time in 2017. Despite previously gaining financial backing from finance group Playground, further investment was declined this week, leading to the closure.

CastAR was born out of research conducted by Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson when the pair worked at Valve. They were allowed to leave with their work when Valve opted against pursuing its own AR program.

The roots of the project stem from a successful Kickstarter and the backing of Android creator Andy Rubin. Easy Sleep Play, which developed the 2012 Twisted Metal reboot, joined the company just last year.

Future generations will lift holograms off the table in the comfort of their homes,” Ellsworth told Polygon in April of her vision for AR. They're going to be able to move around and start to pin 3D Netflix on the wall in the kitchen while you're cooking, and then your recipe book is going to be, like, a virtual iPad experience.

There's going to be something that's discovered in AR — some interaction that's awesome — and we will gradually teach the end user how to do that, and then every AR device will start to use that interaction. But it's impossible to go from zero to Minority Report in one go.

It's really hard to deploy VR into millions of homes around the world, because the experience is that you clear your furniture in your living room and you hang a bunch of sensors on the wall. I was actively involved with the Vive project, but I thought it was a really high-friction user experience. With AR, you can bring the whole family around the table. My dad knows how to reach in and push the lemmings off the cliff with [AR]. Put a VR system on him and give him a crazy controller where he's tripping over the dining room table — that's more difficult.”

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