Vayyar’s Superman vision technology gets $22 million in new funds
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Vayyar technologies brings "x-ray vision" to life with a far less radioactive technology (screenshot)

A game-changing technology that can measure the nutritional content of a glass of milk or screen for breast cancer will debut in January at CES 2016

3D imaging sensor company Vayyar Imaging announced that they completed a $22 million Series B round of funding on Tuesday, bringing its all-time haul to $34 million. The round was led by Walden Riverwood and included participation from existing investors Bessemer Venture partners, Israel Cleantech Ventures (ICV), Amiti Ventures and Series A lead Battery Ventures.

“Vayyar’s tremendous growth in the enterprise market validates that there is a very large demand globally for solutions that empower people to improve their health, safety, and quality of life using mobile, low-cost, safe 3D imaging sensors,” said Lip-Bu Tan, Founder and Chairman of Walden International, in a statement.

Vayyar’s sensors are used in cancer diagnostics, robotics and the smart building or smart home industries. In terms of oncology, their solution can image through body tissue to detect tumors or through building walls to map superstructure. Like other smart building companies, they can track a person’s location and movement through a connected facility. The chips they use are manufactured by business partners TSMC and ASE (Taiwan).

Chairman and CEO Raviv Melamed, VP of R&D Miri Ratner and CTO Naftali Chayat founded Vayyar in December 2011, and it currently employs about 30 people. The new funding will be put toward expanding into new markets.

Radio waves prove more durable than x-rays

Vayyar states the radio waves they use are far safer than X-rays and take 100 times less power to transmit than a phone. Radio waves also make it cheap, making it scaleable to other industries. Radio also has the unusual feature of being able to penetrate deeper than other technologies with low attenuation, or gradual weakening of a signal.

“Instead of making people come to the imaging centers, our vision is to bring imaging technologies to people, primarily in remote and underserved places around the world,” CEO Raviv Melamed told Geektime.

While it’s an alternative to X-rays, ultrasound and MRI, it’s really meant to augment those media, says Melamed.

“Our technology makes screening more approachable in places like third world countries where people need local imaging devices, but can’t easily access or get to medical clinics.”

Vayyar’s major impact is that it can work with mobile devices, scanning areas with low energy radio transmissions which can then be used to create 3D renderings. More advanced information may be found in the analytics depending on what the sensors are scanning. It is able to give you the nutritional information of drinks like milk or medicines, exact measurements of a construction project, or the speed of an incoming baseball. The company counts several Fortune 500 companies among its clientele.

According to the startup, Vayyar can see through tens of centimeters of concrete, sheetrock, and other materials. You can anticipate problems in drilling and reportedly even map rebar, also known as metallic superstructure material used to reinforce concrete, inside bridges.

“Being able to see through materials depends on the [radio] frequency you’re using and the regulations in each country,” Melamed clarified to Geektime.

A growing field

Despite the high cost of 3D services, Markets and Markets predicts an industrial value of $16.6 billion for 3D imaging by 2020 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27.5%. Medical applications are of extremely high interest to investors and the general public, part of a slew of startups both challenging and augmenting current imaging techniques like MRIs. The Butterfly Network scored $100 million last year toward production of a cheap 3D imaging platform that can Superman-look into your body with a cell phone camera while other companies like Israeli ElMindA render neural data into 3D maps of your brain.

Vayyar is planning a big reveal in Las Vegas at CES, which is taking place from January 6-9 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. They are also working with TSMC and ASE (Taiwan) to manufacture their computer chips.

However, the technology does have some limitations. Seeing my opportunity, I had to ask.

No, “Just like Superman, we cannot see through lead,” Melamed answered.

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