Israeli startup Mantis Vision, which develops and produces 3D photographical and sensory technologies for smartphones, professional 3D studios, and 3D scanners for industrial applications, has announced the acquisition of Technion, Israel Institute of Technology-based Israeli startup BrainVu. The Israeli company uses machine vision applications to detect biological signs that can identify human emotions in real time, based on analysis of eye movements. BrainVu will retain its name after the acquisition and its research and development team will remain independent.
Explaining the acquisition, Mantis Vision CEO Gur Arie Bittan told "Globes" that BrainVu had spent years researching what happens in the brain in behavior in different situations using MRI imaging. After years of research, they discovered that data similar to what an MRI provides can be obtained by monitoring certain characteristics in eye movements and the size of the pupils. This means that feedback of a subject's emotional recognition can be obtained successfully without connecting electrodes to the subject's head.
Bittan says that the application of the technology "makes it possible to change the experience of a player in a virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) environment according to his feelings. " According to Bittan, this technology is to be included in the way AR/VR technology is developed. An AR and VR system needs "a good eye-monitoring mechanism in order to operate effectively - because the eye actually sees only 3-5 degrees; all the rest is out of focus. The idea is to use the best visual quality for this area. The assumption is that Apple will issue its T288 AR spectacles in 2020-2021, and that this is the stage at which the sector will become commercial, with millions of devices appearing in the market simultaneously, all of which will need eye-monitoring mechanisms in order to work properly."
This is where BrainVu's technology enters the picture. It makes it possible to learn about the user's mental state from his eye movement, so that photographed content can later be created for him or her that responds to this situation. Bittan gives an example: "Assume that you have entered a horror game, but you don't want it to be too frightening. In the future, it will be possible to adapt the game to the player's level of stress. Another possibility is that if I'm in a state of stress, my 3D image in the virtual world will wear a big smile in order to compensate for it. For example, what will happen is that we will detect the emotion from the eye movement, while we can supply the content with Mantis Vision's photography system. This combination opens new possibilities in the content field."
Mantis Vision has attracted a good deal of attention in recent months. In late July, the company announced its acquisition of US startup Alces, which specializes in 3D sensory photography based on structured light technology. Market sources estimated the deal at $10 million. Alces was a competitor of Mantis Vision in structured light technology for 3D sensation. Following the deal, Bittan explained, "The solution that Mantis Vision created is simpler and more elegant, but looking generations ahead, there are products for which Alces's technology is more suitable, such as in the mixed reality segment… Alces's intellectual property will help Mantis Vision operate, while simultaneously limiting and thwarting competitors."
Two weeks later, Mantis Vision completed a $55 million financing round with participation from the Samsung Catalyst fund, which led the company's previous financing round, and Chinese company Lianmei Quantum Holdings. The company refused to disclose the identity of a third non-Israeli participant in its financing round.
This financing round was designed to help the company enhance its presence in the Asian market, especially China, for continued technological development of its products, and doubling its staff of 160 in the company's centers in Petah Tikva, the US, Slovakia, and China. Completion of this financing round bring the total amount raised to date by Mantis Vision to $83 million.
In May 2018, Mantis Vision announced strategic cooperation with Chinese electronic and mobile devices company Xiaomi in which Mantis Vision's 3D camera was installed in one version of Xiaomi's Mi8 Explorer smartphone. This cooperation is designed to create the first Android camera to accommodate 3D uses previously possible only using software for analysis of 2D images.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on September 5, 2018
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