As the industry prepares to introduce autonomous vehicles on public roads, stealth startup Saikou Optics is developing a multi-focal digital lens using a single camera — which rivals Mobileye’s trifocal technology.
Orlando, Fla.-based Saikou Optics’ digital lens and multi-modal optical system will be used for various industries, including medical and entertainment. But the startup saw an opportunity in autonomous cars, Mobility Buzz has learned.
While the lens product is similar to what Tel Aviv, Israel-based Mobileye offers, Saikou’s camera only requires one camera — versus Mobileye’s three cameras.
“One of the biggest players in the market is Mobileye,” the startup’s Chief Executive and Founder Eric Sanford told Mobility Buzz. “They saw a need to look at the environment in different magnifications. So what they call their ‘trifocal technology’ is where they are using three different cameras,” which are statically tuned to specific focusing distances.
In contrast, Saikou is using a single camera, and enabling it to capture multiple focus distances and magnifications dynamically, Sanford said. “Because our optics are so fast, and they are controlled through changing the voltage at a high speed, we can enable unlimited ways to view the environment, whether it’s magnification or focus.”
The Saikou optical system can be synchronized or controlled by any kind of brain, Sanford said. For example, it can be controlled by an individual human operator or an integrated system of computers, he added.
As it relates to autonomous cars, the “brain” of the vehicle computer vision system fitted with Saikou’s technology will be able to “see what it wants, when it wants, and acquire a true sensing ability,” he added.
Saikou currently has a proof-of-concept prototype available, but plans to reveal a beta prototype within the next six to eight months, Sanford said, following the closing of its latest friends-and-family funding round for an undisclosed amount.
“This has enabled us to move from patent filing to creation of a proof-of-concept prototype, and helped us move closer to product betas,” Sanford said. “We are making preparations now for a seed round this year, which will enable us to increase our design, materials, engineering, and business development resources.”
Sanford declined to comment on how much the company seeks to raise in the round.
Saikou is an “early stage” startup with about one dozen employees. The company’s headquarters and main laboratory is located in the Central Florida Research Park, at the University of Central Florida’s Business Incubator.
Check out the demo video below:
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