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Gentex Buys Israeli startup Guardian Optical for $17 Million

Guardian Optical

Guardian Optical

Gentex Corporation, a supplier of electro-optical products for the global automotive, aerospace and fire protection industries, has acquired Israeli startup Guardian Optical Technologies. Guardian Optical offers a unique, multi-modal sensor technology designed to provide a comprehensive suite of driver- and cabin-monitoring solutions for the automotive industry. While the value of the deal was not revealed, Calcalist has reported that the sale was for $17 million in stock.

Car crashes are still one of the world’s leading causes of death on an annual basis. And while surviving, many people are left disabled every year. Then there is all of the time and expense of hospitalizations, lost wages, emergency services and so forth. And even when no one is harmed, a car crash on a busy highway can cause huge traffic jams causing many people to be late for work and many deliveries to arrive late.

So there are many ancillary costs to society involved in every traffic accident. This is why so much effort is being made to improve driver safety. Soon. Automated vehicles, it is hoped, will remove the human factor in the cause of crashes. The technology developed by Guardian Optical and Gentex could one day be used in driverless vehicles.

Founded in October 2014, Guardian Optical Technologies develops an advanced 3D sensor. The sensor identifies typical motions in order to detect the presence of humans within a given scene. Guardian Optical explains that this accomplished with a sensitivity that is high enough to detect motions over a large scale, from a walking person to a sleeping baby.

Guardian Boasts that its sensors replace in-seat pressure sensors, seat-belt sensors and standard drivers’cameras since they indicate the location, physical dimensions and body position of each passenger.

Guardian’s optical sensors use an advanced, patent pending technology that detects the presence of humans even where there is no direct line of sight. The depth sensor detects the motions of the various objects within a given scene.

“Guardian utilizes artificial intelligence and computer vision algorithms to create comprehensive, in-cabin sensing functionality for today’s vehicles and the autonomous age,” said Gentex Chief Technology Officer Neil Boehm. “With a single sensor module, we can monitor driver alertness, fine-tune airbag deployment, track passenger behavior – even detect the presence of a child sleeping in a car seat in the rear of the vehicle.”

“A mirror-borne, in-cabin monitoring system would allow automakers to offer an attractively packaged, scalable, cross-car-line feature in a high-performance location that simplifies regulatory compliance,” added Boehm. “We’re currently working on multiple proof-of-concept designs for mirror- and overhead-console-integrated driver monitoring solutions.”

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