Hand motion sensor tech firm expands Edinburgh base with AI centre of excellence
A global leader in high-precision motion capture technology for the gaming and animation sectors is to invest £6.9m in a centre of excellence in AI and spatial computing in Edinburgh.
The move will see New Zealand firm StretchSense expand its Edinburgh office as it bids to take a larger presence in the European market and drive global sales and support.
Led by Par Equity, existing investor GD1, the New Zealand-based venture capital firm, and Scottish Enterprise, Scotland’s national economic development agency, participated in the round.
The investment will further accelerate StretchSense’s global expansion. It plans to grow its world-class engineering team to meet ‘strong customer interest in the compatibility of its technology with leading motion capture and VR tools in the market.
It will also focus on developing new sensor technology to enable high-precision tracking in emerging applications such as the rapidly-developing corporate virtual training industry which is estimated to be worth more than US$300 billion in 2022 and expected to grow to more than US$550 billion by 2027.
To meet strong global demand for its technology it is expanding both sales and service teams across its three offices, with a strong focus on customer support and building its burgeoning channel and technology partnerships.
Founded in 2012 by CEO Dr. Benjamin O’Brien, chief technology officer Dr. Todd Gisby, and bioengineering professor Iain Anderson, StretchSense has approximately 60 people globally with a HQ in Auckland and offices in Edinburgh and Seattle.
Dr. Benjamin O’Brien, CEO and co-founder, StretchSense, said: “At StretchSense we believe that technology enabled garments are needed to humanise access to virtual worlds. We have already proven this model by revolutionising how studios capture highly precise, detailed hand movements in the gaming and VFX industries. With this investment we are expanding into the metaverse, focused on the key partnerships, new technology, and investments in scale needed to build the future of how people will create, learn, work, and play.
“Edinburgh is the perfect location as we grow our presence in Europe. Right on our doorstep, there are world-class universities, a vibrant tech ecosystem, amazing talent, and Scotland already has a strong reputation in the gaming sector. It’s a great fit, and we’re really pleased to have the support of Par Equity, Scottish Enterprise, and GD1.”
Tom Croy, senior investment manager, Par Equity, said: “StretchSense has developed technology that is transforming the creative industries sector including gaming and virtual effects, the company has hundreds of customers across the globe, and is well positioned to play a role in the evolution of virtual worlds. We look forward to being on the journey with Ben, Todd, and the rest of the team.”
Kerry Sharp, director of entrepreneurship & investment at Scottish Enterprise, added: “Scotland is one of the top games and software developer locations in the world, with a pioneering reputation based on our rich heritage with titles like the Grand Theft Auto series, Lemmings, and the console edition of Minecraft.”
“It’s fantastic to see StretchSense choose Scotland for its European headquarters, and our investment will help this highly innovative company pursue its ambitious International growth plans.”