Brodmann17, an Israeli computer vision technology startup that developed a new approach to enter a marketplace dominated by Mobileye, shut down this week.
Brodmann17’s co-founder and CEO Adi Pinhas posted a message on LinkedIn announced the move, stating that while the company may not be able to bring its products to the mass market as hoped, “we reassure that our innovation will hopefully influence market thinking and others will continue on the mission of bringing safer mobility to all.”
In a subsequent interview, Pinhas told businessroundups.org that “there’s a strong sense of sadness because we’ve proven the technology, there’s excellent demand and we have customers in production.”
Brodmann17, named after the primary visual cortex in the human brain, was launched six years ago by Pinhas, a specialist in deep learning and computer vision, and AI scientists Amir Alush and Assaf Mushinsky. The trio focused on developing a new approach to computer vision technology designed to support advanced driver assistance systems.
Computer vision systems are considered a critical part of automated driving functions. This multi-billion dollar market only promises to grow as automakers move away from their autonomous vehicle goals and instead toward near-term revenue products such as advanced driver assistance systems.
Brodmann17 knew it couldn’t compete with Mobileye on its front-facing camera unless it could bring a new angle to the technology, Pinhas said. “So we focused on the blue ocean,” he added.
That blue ocean was intended to develop deep learning-based computer vision technology that does not rely on bulky hardware. This “lightweight” software-based product could run on low-end processors in the car itself and was designed to complement sensors such as cameras, radar and even lidar already present in the vehicle.
Brodmann17 applied his technology to blind spot cameras, surround and rear cameras, video telematics and even two-wheelers, Pinhas said.
“Demand in the market is much more diversified than people think,” he said. “We have decided to take a path that has not been taken by many other companies in the ecosystem. We just needed more time.”
The startup did attract investors during its lifetime. Brodmann17 raised $11 million in a 2019 Series A round led by OurCrowd. Maniv Mobility, AI Alliance, UL Ventures, Samsung NEXT and the Sony Innovation Fund also participated.
But the company struggled to get new financing. While the team was “really thin” at less than 30 people, Pinhas said it was impossible to continue without backing from private and corporate venture capital firms. He added that “everyone” is waiting for next year and for something to happen before investing more.
Brodmann17 did attract some interest as a possible takeover target. There were several offers, but they all fell through, mainly due to timing reasons, he added.
Despite the gloomy news, Pinhas said he is ready for another project.
“I like deep tech and creating new products,” he said, without specifying what he might focus on. “Life is too short for a break.”