Refracta Singapore-based extended reality (XR) startup, today announced that it has raised approximately SGD$8.5 million (approximately $6 million) in Series A from investors, including Sea Limited, international and private family offices.
The latest funding will be used to intensify R&D to AXIS, a wearable, gaming-oriented full-body motion capture solution. , content creators and fitness enthusiasts. The Series A round brings Refract’s total raised to $9 million.
In 2018, three Refract co-founders, Chong Geng Ng, Michael Chng, and Eugene Koh, were working on a game-related project and came across a problem statement: how do we bridge the gap between gaming and physical activity? CEO of Refract Chng told TechCrunch the solution they came up with was to allow gamers to use their bodies as game controllers. After reviewing papers and articles on cutting-edge technological innovations in games and applications in other industries, the three co-founders identified a gap in the market and created Refract.
“Refract’s goal has always been to become a key player in AR and XR gaming, and this funding allows us to accelerate that process,” Chng said.
The funding announcement follows the success of the crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter for AXIS and its XR game publishing division created through the Deep dive studios acquisition.
Unlike whole-body motion tracking systems such as Perception Neuron, Rokoko, and Xsens, AXIS is intended for real-time gaming and entertainment. AXIS also gives users the flexibility to use between 7 and 10 nodes for gaming or up to the industry standard of 17 for higher precision motion tracking. AXIS does not need a base station, but still requires Wi-Fi to connect to the user’s computer.
“AXIS will be fully autonomous and wireless, requiring no base station or external configuration. It’s all on the body, with proprietary inside-out tracking capability. This solves common issues like occlusion and space requirements of systems like HTC Vive,” Chng told TechCrunch.
Refract will continue to deliver immersive and engaging XR and VR experiences to a growing market of 2.9 billion gamers through its games and technology, such as the portable AXIS.
Its Deep Dive Studios allow Refract to create more immersive titles to complement its slate of offerings, such as the fighting game FreeStriker, which is currently in development and will be available for free to all AXIS customers.
To make it accessible to game developers and content creators, Refract’s software suite is compatible with platforms such as OpenVR, OpenXR, Unity, and Unreal engines, as well as existing VR systems and applications. AXIS can also work with popular VR headsets like the Oculus Quest 2, Chng said.
Refract is considering more vertical and horizontal integrations in the industry.
Refract has already established strategic relationships with companies such as World Taekwondo as part of its virtual sports program, work with the federation to make Virtual Taekwondo a medal event in the near future. The partnership was born when World Taekwondo saw an opportunity to gamify the sport and reach a wider, tech-savvy audience by creating a new discipline, Chng told TechCrunch. Refract also plans to showcase AXIS at Global Esports Games 2022 in Istanbul, Turkey.
“AXIS represents a huge step forward in bringing high-fidelity tracking and motion capture technology to a wider audience; innovate in space and deliver even more immersive gaming experiences,” said Chong Geng Ng, Executive Director of Refract. “Our investment reflects Sea and our other investors’ strong belief in our vision and creativity, and in the huge untapped potential of the XR gaming market.”
“It’s exciting to see a Singaporean company like Refract leading the development of innovative technologies in XR and VR,” said Jason Ng, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, Garena, Sea’s digital entertainment arm. “We are delighted to support their growth and the development of the overall innovation ecosystem in Singapore.”
“Sea and our other investors recognized the talent of Refract as well as the enormous potential of AXIS. The success of the AXIS Kickstarter campaign proves that there is a dedicated community of gamers who share this vision, and we look forward to bringing AXIS and FreeStriker to them in 2022,” said Chng.