IMEC spin-off to bring holograms to the metaverse

IMEC spin-off to bring holograms to the metaverse

Technology News |
By Peter Clarke

Swave Photonics NV, a spin-off from the IMEC research institute, has raised €7 million in a seed round of funding to help it develop holographic technology.

Swave is a fabless semiconductor company that designs and markets holographic chips based on proprietary diffractive photonics technology. It was founded in 2022.

The company’s mission is to enable display manufacturers and content creators to disrupt the visualization market with immersive, ultra-high-resolution, life-like, holographic displays. Swave plans to partner with leading AR/VR/XR and metaverse platforms, so companies can have a shared, life-like 3D experience of meeting around a conference table.

Swave calls its technology Holographic eXtended Reality (HXR). It allows 3D images to be viewable with the naked eye and without requiring viewers to wear smart AR/VR headsets or prescription glasses. And the HXR chips are manufactured using standard CMOS technology, which enables cost-effective scaling of production.

The Swave pixel size is less than 220nm and less than half the wavelength of visible light which makes it a suitable enabler for holography. Swave claims that from a 2D hologram on a chip it can fully reconstruct a 3D light wave representing all of the scene, in all directions, with perfect focus at any point in space.

Typical applications could include 360-degree holographic walls, 3D gaming, AR/VR/XR glasses, collaborative video conferencing, and heads-up displays for automotive and aerospace systems. Swave technology can also power holographic headsets

Swave Photonics is a spin-off of imec and Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Participating investors in the initial seed round include imec.xpand and Flanders Future Techfund (FFTF), a Belgian-Flemish public investment fund. QBIC, a Belgian inter-university venture capital fund is also participating.

Founders’ credentials

“Our vision is to help build the fundamental holographic technology to bring the metaverse to life and work,” said Theodore Marescaux, CEO and co-founder, Swave Photonics. “Swave’s HXR gigapixel technology will forever change the way we see and experience displayed still images, videos and live imaging. True, life-like and immersive metaverse experiences powered by Swave technology are poised to replace every AR/VR display and headset to the point where virtual, augmented or eXtended reality is practically indistinguishable from the real world.”

Marescaux has preiously been a product manager for digital cinema and video IP cores business manager at Barco. He started his career at IMEC as researcher in the fields of HW/SW architectures for multiprocessor SoCs and networks-on-chip.

Co-founder and COO Dmitri Choutov has 25 years of experience in semiconductor technology development and transfer, product management and manufacturing. Prior to Swave Dmitri had engineering and management roles with established players such as National Semiconductor, Maxim Integrated and Lam Research as well as founding and executive roles with the startups: Luxera, Crocus, and Atomera.

Large chip versions of the HXR microchip measuring 20mm by 20mm are being designed for holographic display applications, and 5mm by 5mm versions will target wearable devices. HXR chip samples are planned to be available in 2023.

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