London-headquartered Immersive Gamebox (IGB) yesterday secured $20 million in venture debt financing for its AR interactive entertainment venues that have Lidar sensors and touch screens drilled into the walls to turn the room into one big immersive game.
The venture debt raise was agreed with Harlan Capital, an alternative investment firm operating out of the US that's also provided a separate $12 million loan instrument.
IGB seems pleased with the venture debt model. It envisages taking on more tranches from Harlan Capital as its business model develops.
Its shared play rooms offer 30-60 minutes of fun for corporate events, family activities or date nights.
Since launching 2018, the startup now has Gameboxes both sides of the Atlantic; several run in the US and there's currently four UK venues. The additional financing will allow Immersive to reach 30 venues by H2 2023, doubling its presence, and to 100 by the end of that year thanks to a new site in London's Shoreditch, and additional venue openings in San Francisco, Miami and Philadelphia.
Each Gamebox gaming room comes fully equipped with immersive motion tracking, projection mapping and surround sounds.
The lidar sensors (lidar stands for Light Detection and Ranging, and is better known for powering self-driving vehicles,) allow you to operate the walls with motion control, while giant touchscreens allow menu selections like on your smartphone, or a portable games console.
Pulsed laser beams emitted from the walls bounce off the players' control position, enabling the sensor to recognise their stance and execute the appropriate in-game action.
In terms of the games selection, Immersive Gamebox has franchise deals with the Angry Birds and Shaun the Sheep creators to entertain families, while the Psychedelic Mansion and "Squid Game" cater to grown-ups only.
The technology was spearheaded by Jan Breens, chief technology officer. Breens was previously responsible for designs on the city of Edinburgh's award-winning 4D planetarium theatre, Our Dynamic Earth, bestowed with a gold rating for eco-tourism in 2011.
IGB has sought venture debt financing to capitalise on the recent patent of its new touchscreen display technology which it says offers "frameless" gameplay and a "lower entrance price", meaning margins may improve.
Will Dean, co-CEO and credited as co-inventor of the new frameless touch screen, said: "When we set out to build the Gamebox, nothing quite like this existed on the market, so it’s very exciting to see this technology now
“As a technology company at heart, we are always thinking about what the next big thing for the Gameboxes will be so that we can continue to surprise and entertain our customers.
"We will be introducing new ways to play games with handheld tech, AR integrations and voice recognition currently in testing.”