Gentex Acquiring Israeli Startup Guardian Optical for $17 Million
CTech – Gentex Corporation, which is traded on Nasdaq at a $7.4 billion valuation, announced earlier this week the acquisition of Israeli startup Guardian Optical Technologies. The valuation of the deal was not revealed, but Calcalist has learned that it was completed for $17 million in stock.
The Israeli company has developed a multi-modal sensor technology designed to provide a comprehensive suite of driver and cabin monitoring solutions for the automotive industry. Guardian had previously raised around $15 million, making the sum of its acquisition relatively disappointing.
Gentex is a long-time supplier of electro-optical products for the global automotive, aerospace, and fire protection industries. It’s best known for supplying nearly every major automaker with connected-car technologies and advanced electronic features that optimize driver vision and enhance driving safety.
Guardian was founded in 2015 by Gil Dotan and Gideon Carmon and employs around 30 people. The core of Guardian’s technology is an infrared-sensitive, high-resolution camera that combines machine vision, depth perception, and micro-vibration detection. This proprietary sensor configuration allows the system to not only monitor the driver, but also the entire vehicle cabin and all its objects and occupants, assessing their behavior, gestures, and activities.
The system continuously scans, tracks, and determines the physical location of every vehicle occupant and object, even without a direct line of sight, by combining two-dimensional video image recognition with 3D depth mapping and optical motion analysis. It’s capable of detecting the slightest of movements, including heartbeats.
“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.”
The Guardian acquisition further bolsters Gentex’s cabin monitoring expertise. For decades, the company has integrated displays, cameras, and various ADAS features into its smart rearview mirrors. Because the interior mirror area has an ideal view of the driver and the entire vehicle cabin, it’s a logical location for the integration of the in-cabin monitoring camera.
“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,” explained Boehm. “We’re currently working on multiple proof-of-concept designs for mirror-and-overhead-console-integrated driver monitoring solutions.”