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Augmented reality startup WaveOptics brings in seasoned investor as CFO

Hannah Boland
WaveOptics wants to make AR glasses cheaper

British augmented reality (AR) pioneer WaveOptics has hired IP Group's Robert Bahns as its new chief financial officer, as it pushes ahead with plans to slash the price of smartglasses to under $600 (£469). 

Mr Bahns, a seasoned venture capitalist, had previously been involved with WaveOptics as an investor, having served as a technology partner at IP Group, which is a significant shareholder in the British startup.

He had led the Series A funding round in WaveOptics in 2015 whilst at Touchstone Innovations, which later became part of IP Group. 

WaveOptics has been without a chief financial officer since August when Jon Oates left to join a cybersecurity startup RazorSecure. 

David Hayes, the chief executive of WaveOptics, said Mr Bahns would "be a key member of the executive team as we continue to diversify and position our business internationally to take advantage of the opportunities in the growing augmented reality market". 

Globally, the AR market is expected to be worth $70bn by 2023, according to figures from Mordor Intelligence, and a number of startups have sprung up in the space in recent years. 

However, the price of augmented reality devices remains high, many of them selling for more than $1,000 each.

London-based WaveOptics, which makes components known as waveguides for AR devices and whose technology is used by Microsoft and Magic Leap, is hoping to help bring this price down to under $600. 

The company says it can do this as it is able to produce its components on a larger scale than rivals, mass-producing them, thanks to its method of printing nano-structures directly onto optical glass.

It has recently partnered with a whole host of businesses to help trim costs further, and earlier this year, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, announced it had signed two strategic development agreements, with Taipei manufacturers, on top of those it had already agreed with Chinese and US companies.