Intel Capital leads investment of over $30m in VR and robotics start-ups

25 Oct 2016

Intel Capital is accelerating the chip giant’s move into advanced new fields of computing, including machine vision and VR. Image Jeff Whyte/Shutterstock

Intel Capital is busy preparing for the next world order of tech, and has invested in two start-ups in the areas of robotics and VR.

Intel has invested $15m in Paris-based Chronocam, a maker of advanced vision sensors for robots, drones and self-driving cars.

The chip giant has also invested $15.2m in a Chicago-based company called InContext Solutions that develops virtual reality solutions for retailers.

Future Human

Intel confirmed the news at its global summit in San Diego, where it announced investment of over $38m in start-ups, in markets such as augmented reality and internet of things (IoT).

The investments follow on the heels of the chip giant acquiring Irish machine vision chip maker Movidius recently for a rumoured $300m.

Intel Capital vision for making machines see

Chronocam makes computer vision technology that analyses captured images on a pixel-by-pixel basis in real time, for instant decision-making by machines such as cars in changing weather situations.

The company hopes to begin shipping its technology next year.

“Conventional computer vision approaches are not well suited to the requirements of a new generation of vision-enabled systems,” said Luca Verre, CEO and co-founder of Chronocam.

“For example, autonomous vehicles require faster sensing systems which can operate in a wider variety of ambient conditions.

“In the IoT segment, power budgets, bandwidth requirements and integration within sensor networks make today’s vision technologies impractical and ineffective.”

Improving the bottom line for retailers

InContext Solutions effectively brings retail experiences into the VR world. This brings to $40m in capital that the company has raised from investors, including Plymouth Venture Partners and Hyde Park Venture Partners.

The company’s technology helps to give retailers an understanding of how goods and concepts in store are catching consumers’ eyes using heat maps, and this helps retailers develop new concepts.

“This latest round of funding gives us strong strategic backers who share our vision of even more robust, fully immersive virtual reality solutions for retail,” said Mark Hardy, CEO of InContext Solutions.

“We have long been a leader in web-based VR, and this investment allows us to aggressively develop our VR platform, further lowering costs and improving speed and revenue for our clients.”

By merging Intel technology with InContext’s, retailers will be able to conceive optimal shopper experiences that reduce risk and improve the bottom line.

“Intel believes virtual reality has great potential to disrupt retail and manufacturing, and InContext’s platform has demonstrated the value VR and merged reality can provide to those industries,” said Joe Jensen, VP of the IoT group and general manager of the retail solutions division at Intel.

“We’re pleased to enter this relationship to bring best-in-class VR to market.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years