Japanese startup Tonchidot, maker of the popular Sekai Camera application for iPhones and more recently, a mobile social gaming platform called “SoLaR,” has just raised a $12 million Series B round from mobile operator KDDI Corp., media conglomerate Recruit Co. Ltd., and mobile advertising company SPiRE. Venture firm JAFCO also contributed to the round along with Tonchidot’s Series A investors, DCM and ITOCHU Technology Ventures.
Tonchidot Corporation, the leading mobile augmented reality (AR) platform provider, announced today that it has closed its Series B financing of $12 million. The round saw participation from several leading Japanese companies including major mobile operator KDDI Corporation, media conglomerate Recruit Co. Ltd., and mobile advertising company SPiRE, Inc. Leading Japanese venture capital firm, JAFCO, Co. Ltd. also contributed along with Series A investors DCM and ITOCHU Technology Ventures. Proceeds from the funding will be used to drive global expansion of Tonchidot’s new AR gaming platform.
“We’re seeing tremendous opportunity evolving for mobile gaming globally”
“We’re seeing tremendous opportunity evolving for mobile gaming globally,” said Osuke Honda, Tonchidot Series A investor and DCM Partner. “The first wave of mobile gaming innovation started in Japan, the world’s most advanced market for mobile services, with Japanese social gaming companies like GREE and DeNA. The second wave, which is currently gaining traction in the US, came with popular location-based companies like Foursquare and Booyah. We firmly believe that Tonchidot, with their new augmented reality social gaming platform, will drive the third wave of mobile gaming innovation globally.”
Tonchidot launched its flagship product Sekai Camera for iPhone in 2009, followed by a version for Android in 2010. Most recently in July 2010, it launched its beta version of the industry’s first AR social gaming platform called “SoLAR.”
A unique combination of Social, Location, and AR, the Tonchidot SoLAR platform enables mobile application developers to integrate location, augmented reality, and social play into their games to create a completely new and differentiated gaming experience for users. Additional tools to easily integrate Twitter and Facebook connectivity, payment solutions for iPhone/Android, and other new features will be provided in an upcoming October product release. Developers will also be able to utilize Sekai Camera’s unparalleled recognition and estimated 30% penetration among iPhone users in Japan – the world’s most attractive market for mobile monetization.
“We are excited about opportunities to greatly enhance user experience while combining traditional mobile social games with LBS (Location Based Service) and AR technologies,” explained Takahito Iguchi, Tonchidot’s CEO. “We have taken social gaming to a new level from the computer screen to the real world where friends can visit a flourishing farmland, interact with adorable pets, and swim through a customized fish-tank, all in the middle of Tokyo. Tonchidot’s new mobile gaming platform will take you BEYOND REALITY!”
Tonchidot’s first SoLAR game, called “KA-BOOM,” invites players to interact with friends in a game that combines virtual bombs with real-world locations. Thousands of virtual bombs are already scattered worldwide, as can be seen on http://ka-boom.wizcorp.jp/. Another newly released social app “CooKoo” features a playful little bird that brings smiles to your Twitter life.
The Sekai Camera app for iPhone with AR social gaming features is now available for free from the Apple App Store for iPhone OS 3.1 and above. The Android version which supports Android OS 2.1 and above has just been upgraded to support AR social gaming, with imminent game and app title additions.
Tonchidot Corporation (Tokyo, Japan) is a leader in mobile Augmented Reality (AR) services. They offer an innovative web service/application, “Sekai Camera,” which enables mobile devices to “change the view of the real world.” Sekai Camera’s AR interface allows users to access hyper-tagged social, informational and entertainment services over the Internet. Tonchidot first announced its Sekai Camera concept at TechCrunch 50 in 2008, and subsequently released its iPhone application in September 2009 in Japan, where it has become one of the most popular apps in the iTunes app store. It has since reached over 1 million downloads worldwide.