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Guardian Optical raises $2.5M in VC round

14 Nov 2018

Israeli startup is working on photonics technology for in-car monitoring and passenger safety.

Guardian Optical Technologies says it has received an additional $2.5 million in venture backing, part of a “pre-B” funding round totalling $5.6 million.

The Tel Aviv-based startup adds that it will spend the cash - provided by investors Union Ventures and B&E Equities, among others – to expand its research into photonics technology intended to monitor the inside of cars, and help protect passengers.

“Guardian Optical Technologies is dedicated to creating ‘passenger aware’ cars that will be increasingly more important as autonomous vehicles enter the market, making them safer and more convenient,” announced the firm.

Its technology incudes 2D, 3D, and motion analysis, provided by constant scanning and tracking of the entire interior of the cabin. The company said previously that it is able to monitor tiny movements - even including driver and passenger heartbeats - to help prevent dangerous human errors.

Man-machine interface
CEO and co-founder Gil Dotan said in Guardian Optical’s release: “Technology that creates passenger-aware vehicles can increase the safety of an automobile exponentially by alerting and warning passengers to take action, and alerting the vehicle itself to take action.”

Dotan adds that the company’s plan is to provide “uncompromisingly robust” sensing ability that extends far beyond regular safety features. “Our vision is to challenge the borders of [the] human-machine interface for better user experience, convenience and mobility services,” he commented.

The company, which previously raised $5.1 million in its series A funding round, claims that its sensor technology “empowers” car manufacturers to build safer vehicles at a lower cost, by eliminating the need to install multiple sensors throughout the car.

“Patent-pending sensor technology provides real-time, comprehensive information on occupancy status based on three interconnected layers of information: video image recognition (2D), depth mapping (3D), and micro- to macro-motion detection,” it states.

Head position warning
Guardian Optical also claims that it is offering the first technology capable of detecting “micro-vibrations” using low-cost, automotive-grade components. “The sensor detects the location and physical dimensions of each occupant and can identify the difference between a person and an inanimate object,” it explains.

Among the specific advantages claimed are the replacement of conventional pressure-based seatbelt sensors, selective airbag deployment if a passenger is not in the correct position to benefit, and monitoring a driver’s head position to warn if they may be falling asleep.

Saar Lavi from Union Investments said of the rationale behind the financial support: “We are experiencing one of the largest changes in the automotive world, with AI-technology that is powering all aspects of the automobile.

“As vehicles get more sophisticated, the safety and experience provided to passengers should be just as advanced. Guardian Optical Technologies provides a unique safety solution that could transform the way passengers interact and are protected by the vehicle itself.”

While the company has not revealed a great deal about the nature of the technology it has developed, it has described use of a “unique optical setup”, alongside machine learning, real-time data analysis, and image analysis of the sensor’s video feed.

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