You may have heard of young companies raising money, but not companies that are barely a quarter old. Unispectral must have shown its investors something amazing, because they announced on Tuesday a $7.5 million funding round for technology that utilizes camera sensors with “next-generation seeing and sensing capabilities.”
The round was led by Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP), Robert Bosch Venture Capital (RBVC), the Samsung Catalyst Fund and the Tel Aviv University Technology Innovation Momentum Fund. The new company says its point of differentiation is an “unprecedented” ability for cameras in low light to preserve vivid colors.
Unispectral boasts its hyperspectral sensor will have wide-ranging applications for medical imaging, IoT and agtech. Spectral analysis is commonly used to identify the materials in stars by analyzing their light waves. The same principles are at play here, which can analyze the nutritional content of something as mundane as an apple.
“This strategic investment by JVP, Bosch and Samsung demonstrates the value of our unique solution,” Unispectral CEO Rami Feig stated in a press release. “Unispectral is leading the revolution in the way we see and capture scenes of the world, from human vision to computer vision.”
The company might have incorporated in 2016, but it’s built on some seven years of research at Tel Aviv University (TAU) by its founders Prof. David Mendlovic and VP of R&D Ariel Raz. Mendlovic holds over 40 patents and received the 1998 International Commission of Optics award, according to a press release. Their CEO, Rami Feig, has received the Israel Defense Award for technological innovation. He had a long stint in the Electronics Research Department of the Israeli Ministry of Defense. Raz spent six years in the R&D division of the Israeli prime minister’s office. The company says his research is the backbone of their technology.
“One application is being able to minimize the technology and insert it into cell phones,” Feig told Geektime, noting that they were courted by several investors related to consumer electronics and mobile before going with Samsung and Bosch. “The mobile market is starving for new applications.”
The researchers had been incubated at Tel Aviv University before branding themselves this year. They attended Mobile World Conference in 2015, where they first met up with Samsung and Bosch as well as a few other potential, “prestigious” investors, according to Feig. They had already been working with funds from the Momentum Fund before this new round.
“The mobile market today is ripe for a new killer application changing the way we understand images and identify materials and objects,” said Kobi Rozengarten, Managing Partner at JVP, who said the technology would have major effects on the mobile market. RBVC partner Gadi Toren added, “The ability to provide sensing elements for smarter and flexible imagery is a key capability relevant for multiple areas where Bosch is active.”
The scientific implications sound impressive, with an ability to distinguish different properties among the three major states of matter: solids, liquids, and gases. They also say it can be quickly applied to anti-counterfeiting operations, food monitoring, and material identification. Feig sounded an excited note before signing off with us.
“We’ve managed to take something science fiction and turn it into something that can now it can be inserted into a phone.”
Located in Ramat Gan, the initial round will go toward expanding the team and further product development.