Startup wins $7.5m funding for smartphone hyperspectral tech

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An Israeli startup developing hyperspectral imaging for mobile phones has secured $7.5 million of funding to further the technology.

Unispectral Technologies, which spun out of Tel Aviv University (TAU), closed the Series A funding round led by Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP), Robert Bosch Venture Capital (RBVC), Samsung Catalyst Fund, the early stage investment arm of Samsung Strategy and Innovation Centre, and The Tel Aviv University Technology Innovation Momentum Fund.

Unispectral’s technology is based on a microelectromechanical optical component that’s suitable for mass production and compatible with standard smartphone camera designs, combined with image processing software.

‘The optical element acts as a tunable filter and the software  an image fusion library  would support this new component and extract all the relevant information from the image,’ said Professor David Mendlovic of TAU's school of electrical engineering. The imaging works with both video and still photography, he said.

Every material has a hyperspectral signature from which it can be identified. Hyperspectral imaging has potential applications in food production and security and defence, while a number of companies are developing spectral sensors for smartphones for tasks like determining the percentage of sugars and fats in foods.

The Unispectral imaging technology will provide low light and rich colour functionality for colour sensors. Other applications include remote health monitoring and industrial quality control.

The company is close to producing a prototype, Mendlovic said, which is scheduled for release in June.

Unispectral is in talks with other companies to analyse data from its cameras' images. This back-end analyser would need a large database of hyperspectral signatures at its disposal.

Ramot, TAU's tech transfer company, consolidated key intellectual properties and financed the engineering team to proceed with R&D and the business development.

The current round of funding will allow the company to hire additional staff and further product development.

‘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. ‘Unispectral is developing a game changing technology with the potential to re-envision the mobile market.’

‘We are excited to support this disruptive sensing technology venture, which has promising potential in multiple applications such as mobile, smart machines and IoT,’ said David Goldschmidt, managing director and head of venture investments at Samsung Strategy and Innovation Center, Israel.

‘The ability to provide sensing elements for smarter and flexible imagery is a key capability relevant for multiple areas where Bosch is active,’ added Gadi Toren, venture capital investment partner with RBVC, the venture arm of the Bosch Group.

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Hyperspectral imaging tech for industry to be distributed by Stemmer Imaging

Drones gain spectral sight - In an area where size matters, hyperspectral imaging is cracking the unmanned aerial vehicle market due to the development of small size, low power systems, as Tom Eddershaw discovers

Growing pains - Jessica Rowbury looks at how imaging technology is allowing farmers to reduce their environmental impact while improving profitability

Further information:

Unispectral Technologies

Professor David Mendlovic 

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