Israeli chip maker Hailo to set up Tokyo unit as demand for AI tech grows

Tel Aviv-based startup’s chip allows smart devices to run deep learning applications

Shoshanna Solomon was The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

The Hailo-8 AI processor developed by Hailo (Courtesy)
The Hailo-8 AI processor developed by Hailo (Courtesy)

Hailo, a maker of chips that allows edge devices like smart cameras or smart cars to have artificial intelligence capabilities, said it is setting up a wholly owned subsidiary in Tokyo, Japan.

Edge devices are electronic devices that are installed at the edge of networks — the entry point to networks — in products such as autonomous vehicles, drones, and smart home appliances such as personal assistants, smart cameras and smart TVs, alongside internet of things, augmented reality and virtual reality platforms, wearables and security products.

The new unit is part of Hailo’s ongoing growth strategy, including strengthening partnerships and relationships with existing customers in Japan and expanding into Asia-Pacific markets, the company said in a statement on Monday.

The new subsidiary, called Hailo Japan G.K., will be headed by Hiro Uchida, a former Sony executive, who will be the firm’s president.

The Japanese unit will allow the Tel Aviv-based Hailo to better serve current customers and continue to grow in market segments such as automotive, smart cities, smart retail, smart homes, industry 4.0, and beyond, in response to growing demand from Japanese customers who are developing products that require AI technology at the edge, the statement said.

Orr Danon, CEO of Hailo (Courtesy)

Hailo’s AI processor, designed to fit into a range of smart machines and devices, stems from a “rethinking” of traditional computer and chip design and enables smart devices to perform sophisticated deep learning tasks such as object detection and segmentation in real time, with minimal power consumption, size, and cost, the statement said.

Hailo’s deep learning processor delivers up to 26 tera operations per second (TOPS) performance to edge devices, the statement said, enabling the devices to run “sophisticated” deep learning applications that could previously only run on the cloud.

The tech world is gradually shifting from a focus of centralizing all processing in the cloud to moving to the edge, in an bid to improve latency, cut bandwidth cost and provide a more stable platform that doesn’t depend on network connectivity.

The expansion comes in the wake of Hailo’s $60 million Series B funding round, in which Japanese corporation NEC – a multinational information technology and electronics firm – joined as a strategic investor.

Hailo also recently set up partnerships with Socionext, a provider of advanced security operation center (SoC) solutions for video and imaging systems headquartered in Japan, and Foxconn, a specialist in smart manufacturing, to launch a next-generation AI processing solution for video analytics at the edge, the statement said.

The company was founded in 2017 by former members of an elite tech unit of the IDF, Hadar Zeitlin, CEO Orr Danon, and Avi Baum.

“I am excited to be part of Hailo’s team and am looking forward to building a strong foundation to lead our business development in this pivotal arena,” said Hiro Uchida. “There is no doubt that deep learning at the edge will be embedded in almost all of the products and services we use on a daily basis, while providing us with improved safety and better quality of life. Hailo is spearheading the next generation of deep learning.”

Hiro Uchida brings to the firm more than 30 years of experience as a technology and business leader, including helping build Sony’s Corporate Venture Capital fund and investing in innovative startups worldwide, the statement said.

The Asia-Pacific region continues to show significant growth in the AI sector, said Danon. “Our new subsidiary in Japan will enable us to strengthen relationships and collaborations with our Japanese-based customers and partners, and to create new opportunities together. Many of the world’s leading companies integrating artificial intelligence into their edge devices are based in Japan.”

The firm has raised $86.3 million to date from investors including NEC, OurCrowd, ABB Technology Ventures and tech entrepreneur Zohar Zisapel, according to the database of Start-Up Nation Central, which tracks the industry.

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