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This Reliance-owned Deep-Tech Start-Up Wants To Bring Mixed Reality To the Masses Even as technologies such as augmented, virtual and mixed reality becoming the new buzzwords in the start-up ecosystem, India hasn't seen a steady adoption of these among the masses. Tesseract wants that to change.

By Debroop Roy

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Imagine playing cricket inside a tiny room with glass windows. The rules would be such that hitting a six could end up in you paying up for a broken window pane.

Now, imagine if the ball was virtual and would behave the exactly the same way as a real one, except it can't break a real glass. That's what mixed reality is all about wherein the real and virtual worlds exist and interact simultaneously.

A start-up based in Mumbai plans to bring this cutting-edge technology to the masses.

Tesseract, which was acquired by conglomerate Reliance Industries earlier this year, was founded in 2015 by Kshitij Marwah. Its first product was a 360 degree camera to capture content for virtual reality.

Manufacturing Hardware

Even though the idea and designs were in place, the difficult part was manufacturing the end product.

"You need to have a premium looking product that you can actually go out and sell to your first set of clients", said Devesh Jain, lead architect for augmented reality at Tesseract.

But for a start-up that was then bootstrapped, getting a premium looking product was a big challenge, he said. "The thing with making anything look premium is that you need to go to these local manufacturers, spend lakhs of rupees and they make you 10,000 units."

Considering that they were just starting, such a big investment seemed unlikely for Tesseract, Jain said, speaking on the sidelines of Unite India 2019 held in Kochi last week.

So, the company went to small manufacturers, convincing and pushing them to help them through their little experiment. And it worked.

"Over the four years, that's how we have been able to keep our manufacturing costs low," he said.

One Size Doesn't Fit All

The company is in the process of creating a suite of devices, aimed at catering to multiple sectors.

"What we believe is that there's not one single device that fits it all," Jain said, explaining that a regular lifestyle use product would need to be designed very differently from something made specifically for something like education or healthcare.

Instead of creating a simple device, Tesseract wants to develop the entire ecosystem. It is also developing its own operating system that would allow cross-device functionality.

To the Masses

One of the earliest decisions the company made was to make the technology accessible to the masses and for that, they needed to come up with products that are available at affordable prices.

"The core idea was that for India, we do not want a $1,500 headset...we wanted something that could be around $100," Jain said.

Debroop Roy

Former Correspondent

Covering the start-up ecosystem in and around Bangalore. Formerly an energy reporter at Reuters. A film, cricket buff who also writes fiction on weekends.
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