21 Feb 2018
Intel, Renault, and Bosch among the investors to back series B round for startup developing animal-inspired machine vision technology.
Chronocam, the French machine vision startup developing technology inspired by the way that animal and human vision works, has raised $19 million in a series B round of venture finance.
The Paris-based firm has also decided to change its name to “Prophesee”. Its technology, initially developed at France’s Vision Institute, is able to capture extremely fast events by mimicking so-called “neuromorphic” imaging at rates of up to 100,000 frames per second.
New strategic investor
In late 2016, the company founders won a startup competition at the photonics-focused Inpho Venture Summit in Bordeaux, shortly before raising $15 million in a series A funding round. Among several other awards, Chronocam/Prophesee was one of around 30 early-stage firms to be identified last year as a "technology pioneer" by the World Economic Forum.
That initial funding was, like the new series B raise, backed by blue-chip investors in the form of Intel Capital, Renault, and Robert Bosch – although the latest round was led by an unspecified strategic investor “from the electronics industry”.
“The financing is further market validation of the company’s patented approach to revolutionizing the next generation of machine vision applications, such as autonomous vehicles, robots, industrial automation and IoT [Internet of Things] devices,” announced Prophesee.
The company’s CMOS sensors acquire dynamic visual information in the form of a continuous stream of pixel-individual data, an approach that senses the context of a given scene – and is able to focus on changes within that scene - rather than the entire data set.
It means that only the data necessary to perform the relevant visual function is acquired, rather than the highly computationally and energy-intensive task of collecting and analyzing thousands of full-frame, high-resolution images every second.
The approach is therefore much more akin to animal and human vision, where neural systems have evolved to respond to sudden changes within the field of view, and to ignore an unchanging scene.
The company adds that with a dynamic range of more than 120 dB, the technology is able to let systems operate and adapt effectively in a range of challenging and changing lighting conditions.
“It sets a new standard for power efficiency with operating characteristics of less than 10 mW, opening new types of applications and use models for mobile, wearable and remote vision-enabled products,” claimed the firm in a release announcing the latest funding, adding that the new money would enable it to accelerate the development and industrialization of that technology.
Company CEO and co-founder Luca Verre said: “Our event-based approach to vision sensing and processing has resonated well with our customers in the automotive, industrial and IoT sectors, and the technology continues to achieve impressive results in benchmarking and prototyping exercises.”
“This latest round of financing will help us move rapidly from technology development to market deployment,” he added. “Having the backing of our original investors, plus a world leader in electronics and consumer devices, further strengthens our strategy and will help Prophesee win the many market opportunities we are seeing.”