Harman buys Israeli road safety app developer iOnRoad

iOnRoad CEO Alon Atsmon: Everyone is pleased by the deal; we'll become Harman's Israeli R&D center.

Road safety app developer iOnRoad Technologies Ltd. has been acquired by global audio and infotainment company Harman International Industries Inc. (NYSE: HAR). The companies did not disclose the size of the deal, but it was reportedly for a few million dollars.

Although the exit is not large, iOnRoad's investors will see a respectable return on investment, as the company has raised $1 million from Keydan Capital Ltd. and private investors. "Everyone is pleased by the deal - the investors, employees, and we, the founders," iOnRoad co-founder and CEO Alon Atsmon told "Globes".

iOnRoad was founded in 2011 by Atsmon and CTO Dan Atsmon as a subsidiary of PicItUp Corporation The company has developed an app which uses the forward camera of a driver's smartphone and augmented reality technology to spot vehicles that are too close to the car, and warn the driver of the danger. The app can also identify the road's edges and shoulders to prevent the driver from leaving the road.

Harman is one of the world's largest vehicle media and navigation systems companies. It works with carmarkers such as Audi, BMW, and Mercedes, and has a market cap of $3 billion.

Under the deal, iOnRoad's six employees will become employees of Harman and iOnRoad's Tel Aviv office will become Harman's R&D center in Israel. Harman plans to expand the center, hiring more engineers. Alon Atsmon, a veteran entrepreneur who was behind several companies, including ComSense Technologies Ltd. and Walletex Ltd., will become VP business development at Harman.

iOnRoad's app has been on the market for two years, and has won several awards. Last month, it won the third annual Qualcomm Ventures QPrize. It was also voted "Best Product Demo" at the 2012 Microsoft Israel's Think Next event, and was a finalist in the Automotive, Safe Driving & Transportation category of CTIA’s annual Emerging Technology (E-Tech) Awards competition.

Explaining the sale of iOnRoad, Atsmon said, "This isn't an acquisition of the kind in which the company is bought and closed. We intend to build great things, and we've discussed a development plan for the next five years, including a respectable R&D center in Israel."

iOnRoad's app will be embedded with Harman's media and navigation systems. Although the app uses a smartphone camera, for use in vehicles, the system will need forward cameras, which are already found in some cars for parking and other purposes and resemble reversing cameras.

iOnRoad is in the midst of a legal battle with Mobileye Inc., which sued the company in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York for patent infringement in March 2012. Mobileye claims that iOnRoad presents its technology as similar to Mobileye's product and that its name is also similar to that of Mobileye.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 11, 2013

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013

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