Brodmann17, an Israeli computer vision startup that developed a novel approach to a market dominated by Mobileye, folded this week.
Adi Pinhas, co-founder and CEO of Brodmann17, posted a message on LinkedIn announcing the move, saying that while the company wasn’t able to bring its product to the mass market as hoped, “we’re really relieved that, Our innovations are poised to impact the market, and Thinking and others will continue to work to create safer ways for everyone to get around.”
In a subsequent interview, Pinhas told TechCrunch, “There was a strong sense of sadness when we proved the technology, there was a lot of demand, we had customers in production.”
Brodmann17, named after the primary visual cortex in the human brain, was introduced six years ago by deep learning and computer vision expert Pinhas and artificial intelligence scientists Amir Alush and Assaf Mushinsky. The trio worked to develop a new approach to computer vision technology designed to support advanced driver assistance systems.
Computer vision systems are considered a key component of autonomous driving functionality. The multibillion-dollar market is poised to grow even bigger as automakers move from their self-driving car goals to short-term revenue products like advanced driver assistance systems.
Pinhas said Brodmann17 knew it couldn’t compete with Mobileye on the front camera unless it could bring a new perspective to the technology. “So we’re focusing on blue oceans,” he added.
That blue ocean is developing deep learning-based computer vision techniques that don’t rely on clunky hardware. This software-based “lightweight” product runs on the car’s own low-end processor and is designed to complement the vehicle’s existing sensors such as cameras, radar and even lidar.
Pinhas said Brodmann17 has applied its technology to blind-spot wing cameras, surround and rear-facing cameras, video telematics, and even two-wheelers.
“The needs of the market are far more diverse than people think,” he said. “We decided to go down a path that a lot of other companies in the ecosystem haven’t taken. We just needed more time.”
The startup has certainly attracted investors during its lifetime. Brodmann17 raised $11 million in a Series A round led by OurCrowd in 2019. Maniv Mobility, AI Alliance, UL Ventures, Samsung NEXT and Sony Innovation Fund also participated.
But the company has struggled to secure new funding. Although the team is “very lean,” with fewer than 30 people, Pinhas said it would not have been possible to continue without the backing of private and corporate venture capital firms. He added that “everyone” is waiting for next year, waiting for something to happen before investing more.
Brodmann17 did generate some interest as a possible takeover target. There were several offers, but all of them fell through, mainly due to timing, he added.
Despite the upsetting news, Pinhas says he’s ready for another project.
“I love deep tech and creating new products,” he said, without elaborating on what he might focus on. “Life is too short to rest.”