Farmington’s Polarity raises millions connecting AR to the workplace, cybersecurity

Polarity is an augmented reality startup that has developed a memory-enhancing technology for desktop computers in the workplace.  The company uses AR technology to enrich information that appears on an employee’s computer screen, with a goal of helping teams of workers collaborate more efficiently.

“It enables what we call a collective memory across the team,” said CEO and co-founder Paul Battista, a Connecticut native and former U.S. intelligence officer who leads the mostly virtual company from his Farmington home.

With 20 employees, the five-year-old startup has raised $11.6 million in venture capital so far and is growing, with plans to double the size of its team in the next 18 months.

“The biggest challenge right now is scaling and hiring folks,” said Battista. “We have lots of potential use cases but limited resources.”

Battista markets Polarity as AR minus the goggles. It uses computer-vision algorithms and overlays to add data to text that appears on a user’s screen.  It works in two ways: First, users can highlight text on their screen, such as a person’s name, and add a notation, like a brief biography.

Polarity’s algorithms will then recognize those characters and display the note anytime that text appears on their screen, regardless of the application. The notes will also become part of the team’s “collective memory,” making it easier for co-workers to collaborate, Battista said.

“You don’t have to interrupt workflows or send emails asking about updates on things. You’re seeing everybody’s notes in line with the tools you’re already using,” Battista said. In the cybersecurity world — a target market — it can alert analysts to suspicious IP addresses flagged by other team members.

Another feature allows users to pull data from outside sources, bypassing the need for a Google search. For instance, Google Maps could be displayed whenever a street address is recognized, or Standard & Poor’s data could be linked to company names.

For the short term, Battista is concentrating on building his team and growing his customer base, which currently leans heavily toward Fortune 500 companies.

One priority is to make the software more accessible for smaller firms without a dedicated IT department. The company is developing a hosted version of its software that can be used without an on-site server, Battista said.  And while the startup currently has office space through an investor in Washington, D.C., Battista hasn’t ruled out expanding in Connecticut if he finds the right talent here.

“Our mentality is typically to hire the best people, wherever they might be,” he said.

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