Israeli chip startup nabs deal with Japan’s Softbank

Israeli chip startup nabs deal with Japan’s Softbank

Chips developed by Inuitive will be used by Japanese giant to create smarter, AI-driven products

Close up of electronic components on the motherboard, microprocessor chip (Tsyb Oleg, iStock by Getty Images)
Close up of electronic components on the motherboard, microprocessor chip (Tsyb Oleg, iStock by Getty Images)

Israeli semiconductor startup Inuitive Ltd. and SoftBank Corp., a subsidiary of Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp., said Tuesday they have entered into a collaboration agreement in which the chips and processors developed by the Israeli firm will be integrated into the Internet of Things products developed by the Japanese giant.

The firms did not disclose financial details, but TheMarker financial website estimated the deal to be worth some tens of millions of dollars over a number of years.

Ra’anana-based Inuitive specializes in vision processing and sensing technologies using deep learning algorithms to develop chips and processors that support 3D imaging for uses in robots, drones, augmented reality and virtual reality. The company has also developed 3D Depth Sensing Computer Vision processors, with deep learning capabilities to enable smart devices to become even smarter.

Internet of Things (IoT) devices are becoming more intelligent with the increased use of artificial intelligence (AI). This enables devices to provide human-like interaction while keeping costs to the consumer at a reasonable level, the companies said.

Inuitive will provide SoftBank with the chips and also collaborate with the Japanese firm in the joint development of technologies, Shlomo Gadot, the founder and chief executive officer of Inuitive said by phone.

The idea behind the collaboration is to use the expertise of both companies to create IoT products that integrate artificial intelligence within the chips.

“To develop an AI framework, it takes efforts from players in multiple domains,” said Gadot in the statement.

Shlomo Gadot, founder and chief executive officer of  Inuitive (Assaf Ronen)

“The strategic collaboration between Inuitive and SoftBank will advance on-device intelligence by leveraging Inuitive’s advanced technologies and SoftBank market proven technologies. Together we’ll push the performance envelope and extend AI to places that are currently beyond reach. Our strategic collaboration will become a turning point for the whole on-chip AI industry.”

SoftBank is focused on accelerating the use of AI products in the areas of computer vision and neural networks, and also looking for broader applications in areas of  objects recognition, scene reconstruction and power management, the statement said.

“SoftBank has been conducting research in AI over a decade,” said Hironobu Tamba, vice president, head of Smart IoT Division, SoftBank. “We look forward to the results of our collaboration with Inuitive to further accelerate new and exciting capabilities of on-chip AI for millions of devices.”

Founded in 2012, Inuitive has raised some $70 million to date, with investors including the “7 Main” family office owned by Ruth Wertheimer, T-Ventures, the investment arm of T Mobile, and the investment arm of Deutsche Telekom.

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