Gesture tech firm eyeSight nabs $20 million Chinese investment

In the first of its expected $300m worth of investments in Israel, Kuang-Chi chooses a firm at the forefront of smart-home tech

eyeSight singlecue (Photo credit: Courtesy)
eyeSight singlecue (Photo credit: Courtesy)

Last week, Shenzhen, China-based conglomerate Kuang-Chi announced that it was preparing to invest $300 million in Israeli tech firms. For its first investment, the new KuangChi GCI Fund & InCubator has chosen eyeSight Technologies to bring embedded computer vision to a range of growing technology sectors, including internet of things (IoT), robotics, and automotive.

Kuang-Chi will invest $20 million in the Israeli firm.

“I’m pleased to announce the investment in eyeSight, along with a deep and broad partnership with one of Israel’s most exciting innovators,” said Dr. Ruopeng Liu, chairman of Kuang-Chi. “We examined the top companies in computer vision, gesture control and embedded deep learning, and came to the conclusion that eyeSight has developed one of the most advanced and versatile platforms. The company’s core technology is already incorporated into IoT systems and automotive platforms and together we will bring it to robotics and many other applications. With our help, eyeSight can dramatically increase its pace of growth and development.”

Kuang-Chi’s stated purpose, said Liu, is to “invest in the best local companies in the fields of biometrics, communications, robotics, and augmented reality and take them to the next level commercially and technologically,” helping them get established in the vast Asian market. In that, eyeSight already has a head start; the company’s vision tech is being used by, among others, ZTE, Lenovo, Toshiba, Hisense, and Phillips.

For the past eight years, eyeSight has been developing gesture-control interfaces for all sorts of gadgets, working with manufacturers to integrate its technology with remote controls and 2D gesture-controlled TVs, cellphones, and other devices. With its new singlecue system eyeSight is producing its first universal control product, designed to control almost any home appliance, which the company expects to be integrated into the smart home technology being developed by many companies.

The singlecue can control just about any device or appliance that has a wi-fi, Bluetooth, or infrared (IR) interface. The device has a built-in camera that detects gestures, and allows users to “load” different appliances by moving their hands in front of the camera. Once an appliance – like a TV – is loaded, the user can then use gestures to turn it on or off, increase/decrease volume, change the channel, etc. For music players, gesture control can fast forward/skip/repeat a song; with air conditioners, moving hands up and down can change the temperature; etc.

“Every device in our homes, from the TV to the cable box to the thermostat, has its own control system and remotes, cables or apps for operation, resulting in lots of clutter and fragmentation,” said Gideon Shmuel, CEO of eyeSight. “To solve this problem, we developed singlecue, a control center to bring together all of these devices through a natural, easy-to-use interface that leverages our years of experience in gesture recognition technology to let you experience your home through your fingertips.

“I’m excited to partner with Kuang-Chi and look forward to working closely with its leadership,” Shmuel added. “With our leading computer vision capabilities and Kuang-Chi’s scale and position, we’ll be able to bring to the market capabilities that would otherwise be beyond our reach. Anyone who spends time in Shenzhen understands what a remarkable technology ecosystem has been built there with Kuang-Chi among the pillars of that ecosystem. It’s an honor and an opportunity to call them our partner.”

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