Company typeStartup company
IndustryTechnology, Augmented reality, Virtual reality
FoundedWoodinville, Washington, Washington[1][2] (March 2013 (2013-03))[3]
FounderJeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson[4][5]
DefunctJune 26, 2017 (2017-06-26)
FateClosed due to layoffs
Key people
Jeri Ellsworth, president and co-founder[7]
Rick Johnson, co-founder[8][9]
Steve Parkis, CEO[6]
Number of employees

castAR (formerly Technical Illusions) was a Palo Alto–based[11] technology startup company founded in March 2013[3] by Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson.[4][5] Its first product was to be the castAR, a pair of augmented reality and virtual reality glasses.[12] castAR was a founding member of the nonprofit[13] Immersive Technology Alliance.[5]


castAR was founded by two former Valve employees;[14] the castAR glasses were born out of work that started inside Valve.[15] While still at Valve, their team had spent over a year working on the project.[14] They obtained legal ownership of their work after their departure.[8][14]

In August 2015, Playground Global funded $15 million into castAR to build its product and create augmented-reality experiences.[11] In August 2016, Darrell Rodriguez, former President of LucasArts, joined as the new CEO.[6] In addition, Steve Parkis became President and COO, after leading teams at The Walt Disney Company and Zynga.[6] In September 2016, they opened castAR Salt Lake City, a new development studio formed from a team hired out of the former Avalanche Software, which worked on the Disney Infinity series.[10]

In October 2016, they announced the acquisition of Eat Sleep Play, the developer best known for Twisted Metal, also in Salt Lake City, UT.[16]

In December 2016, Parkis, who had been President and COO, was named CEO to replace Rodriguez.[citation needed]

In June 2017, it was reported by Polygon that CastAR was shutting down, laying off 70 employees.[17] A core group of administrators was expected to remain, to sell off the company's technology.

In September 2019 Jeri Ellsworth initiated a Kickstarter for a new device based on the same principles called Tilt Five. The company uses CastAR technology acquired from the former startup and is founded by CastAR alumni Jeri Ellsworth, Amy Herndon, Jamie Gennis, and Anthony Aquilio[18]


Ellsworth explains castAR to GDC Next 2013 attendees

The castAR glasses combine elements of augmented reality and virtual reality.[19][20] After winning Educator's and Editor's Choice ribbons at the 2013 Bay Area Maker Faire,[21] the castAR project was successfully crowdfunded via Kickstarter.[5] castAR surpassed its funding goal two days after the project went live,[22] and raised over $1 million on a $400,000 goal.[20] castAR creates hologram-like images unique to each user[19] by sending an image from tiny projectors on the glasses into the user's surroundings[15] using a technology that Technical Illusions called "Projected Reality".[19] The image bounces off a retro-reflective[9] surface back to the wearer's eyes.[15][20] castAR can also be used for virtual reality purposes, using its VR clip-on.[19][15] Before the time of the 2017 company shutdown all Kickstarter funds had been paid back to the original backers. Along with the repayment, a coupon for a free set of the production AR glasses was given to each backer. This happened at the time of the 2015 Playground Global investment.

See also


  1. ^ Leiber, Nick (27 November 2013). "Technical Illusions' Hologram Glasses". Bloomberg Businessweek. Archived from the original on November 28, 2013. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  2. ^ Lewis, Brandon (16 October 2013). "Technical Illusions takes augmented reality system to Kickstarter". Embedded Computing Design. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  3. ^ a b "About Us". Technical Illusions. Archived from the original on 14 June 2014. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  4. ^ a b Joey, Fameli (22 May 2013). "Hands-On with Technical Illusions' CastAR Augmented Reality Glasses". Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d Nicole, Lee (20 March 2014). "castAR's vision of immersive gaming gets closer to final production". Engadget. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d Takahashi, Dean (18 August 2016). "Augmented reality firm CastAR recruits former LucasArts chief Darrell Rodriguez as its CEO". VentureBeat. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  7. ^ Nunneley, Stephany (13 March 2014). "Immersive Technology Alliance formed by Oculus VR, EA, Avegant, CastAR others". VG247. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  8. ^ a b Limburg, Mark (20 May 2013). "CastAR brings a new angle to Computer Assisted Reality". VG247. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  9. ^ a b Dean, Takahashi (2 February 2014). "Move over, Oculus. This startup's augmented reality will blow your mind". VentureBeat. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  10. ^ a b Conditt, Jessica (15 September 2016). "Augmented reality studio castAR picks up 'Disney Infinity' devs". Engadget. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  11. ^ a b Takahashi, Dean (19 August 2015). "Android creator Andy Rubin invests $15M in CastAR to build augmented reality gaming glasses". VentureBeat. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  12. ^ Lee, Adriana (20 May 2014). "They're No Google Glass, But These Epson Specs Offer A New Look At Smart Eyewear". ReadWrite. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  13. ^ Hsia, Kevin (26 March 2014). "EA, Avegant, Technical Illusions, and Others Form Immersive Technology Alliance". Punchkick Interactive. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  14. ^ a b c Hollister, Sean (18 May 2013). "How two Valve engineers walked away with the company's augmented reality glasses". The Verge. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  15. ^ a b c d Nelson, Fritz; Yam, Marcus (30 April 2014). "The Past, Present, And Future Of VR And AR: The Pioneers Speak". Tom's Hardware. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  16. ^ "CastAR hires entire Eat Sleep Play dev team".
  17. ^ Crecente, Brian (26 June 2017). "Former Valve initiative CastAR shuts down". Polygon. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  18. ^ Hollister, Sean (2019-09-24). "Jeri Ellsworth's unique AR glasses are back from the dead". The Verge. Retrieved 2019-09-25.
  19. ^ a b c d O'Dell, Jolie (31 May 2014). "How to get your own personal Holodeck, courtesy of gaming goddess Jeri Ellsworth". VentureBeat. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  20. ^ a b c Korolov, Maria (23 May 2014). "VR hardware moving along three separate paths". Hypergrid Business. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  21. ^ Hoopes, Heidi (23 September 2013). "Technical Illusions debuts Cast AR augmented reality glasses". Gizmag. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  22. ^ Mahardy, Mike (16 Oct 2013). "castAR Funded With 29 Days To Go". IGN. Retrieved 13 June 2014.