Massless raises $2M to build an Apple Pencil for virtual reality
Despite all of the VR over-hyping, for those observing from the inside, the capabilities are still uncharted. VR as a creative medium has probably been one of the more entrancing use cases since the first high-end headsets launched. Products like Google’s Tilt Brush isolated impossible use cases, where VR was the only way to experience that act of creating something mesmerizing from nothing.
Massless has been intrigued by the potential of VR as a way to achieve new precision and more seamlessly shove designers and engineers into their digital workshops. The product they’re working on, the Massless Pen, is a professional stylus that functions with much of the pizzazz you’d expect from a product like the Apple Pencil, featuring things like deep pressure sensing and capacitive touch, in addition to upgrades like haptic feedback.
Indeed, you can use the Massless Pen much like you would any other designer’s stylus, but things get a bit bizarre when you pick it up off the surface and manipulate the space in front of you. That’s because the startup’s product is also a tracked 6DoF VR controller, which users can utilize as a tool to manipulate, edit and further create. It utilizes its own tracking system, which can be mounted below hardware trackers used for VR headsets.
“I think the most important thing about this product is that it works in three-dimensions, but you don’t have to use VR,” CEO Jack Cohen tells TechCrunch. “You can just use it as a standard graphics tablet and you can use it to control 3D software on a monitor… This is a transitional period for everyone, so it’s good to have that bridge that goes between them.”
While a lot of digital ink has been spilled on bringing VR to consumer markets, Massless plans to aim this device firmly at business customers, hoping to attract further attention from customers working in design and visualization-heavy enterprises like commercial architecture and automotive design.
The plights of a hardware startup are well-documented; that’s further true of a VR team. Massless has closed a seed raise of $2 million led by Founders Fund Pathfinder to get things started. Entrepreneur First, Vivi Nevo, Shrug Capital and Wendy Tan-White also participated in the round.
The company is using the new funding to grow its team and finish the Massless Pen and bring it to its first set of production enterprise partners.