The Washington Post

Apx Labs collects $10M from New Enterprise Associates for its digital eyewear software

Brian Ballard, CEO (center), Jeff Jenkins, COO (right) and Chris Hoyt CFO (left) of Apx Labs. The company ’s operating system that makes computerized eyeglasses more functional for business use. (Jeffrey MacMillan/Jeffrey MacMillan)

New Enterprise Associates sees a future in computerized eyewear for the office.

The Chevy Chase venture capital firm has funneled $10 million into Herndon-based Apx Labs, the maker of software that turns Google Glass and other digital specs into useful tools for the workplace.

Imagine an auto mechanic who can search the Internet for vehicle information while under the hood or a doctor who can pull up a patient’s medical records while en route to their hospital room.

“Smart glasses will improve the productivity and quality in the workplace for millions of people,” Peter Barris, managing general partner at NEA, said in a news release.

Barris and fellow NEA partner Dayna Grayson joined Apx Labs’s board of directors as part of the deal. NEA’s other local portfolio companies include Appian and TrackMaven, as well as the recently publicly traded GlycoMimetics and Opower.

Apx Labs has also released the second version of its operating system, called Skylight. It’s newest features allow a supervisor to broadcast information to an employee’s eyewear, and give employees the ability to locate and get directions to a key person or object.

“During the past three years, we have built the most advanced software for wearable technology. This investment will allow us to serve even more customers and continue to develop exciting and emerging use-cases for smart glasses,” Apx Labs chief executive Brian Ballard said in a news release.

Apx Labs counts just more than 40 employees to date and its software is being piloted by a few dozen companies, Ballard said. In fact, Washington Wizards and Capitals fans can now get team stats and other information streamed to their Google Glass devices during games at the Verizon Center as part of a deal with Monumental Sports & Entertainment.

Ballard said he expects the number of customers to grow as manufacturers produce smart glasses in larger volumes.

“On the one side, the cash investment by itself has value, but the signal it sends to the market really helps to educate people about how real the market is today,” Ballard said in an interview.

The company previously raised $5.8 million from local investors. The deal with NEA came about after Ballard was introduced to investors there through mutual contacts.

“We definitely spent a lot of time out West. The amount of attention wearable [technology] has gotten in Silicon Valley can’t be ignored and we had a number of firms out there we were talking to,” Ballard said.

NEA, which has an office in Menlo Park, Calif., “immediately got the potential of the technology and what it could mean for big business,” he said.

Follow reporter Steven Overly on Twitter: @StevenOverly

Steven Overly is a national reporter covering federal technology and energy policy with a focus on Capitol Hill. He previously covered the business of technology, biotechnology and venture capital.
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