Emotion AI creator Affectiva acquires Smart Eye for $73.5M

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MIT spin-out Affectiva, one of our most innovative companies to watch in 2021, has acquired Smart Eye for $73.5 million.

Affectiva is the creator of Emotion AI, a category of artificial intelligence which can understand human emotions, cognitive states, activities, and the objects people use through analysing facial and vocal expressions. The AI was trained using more than 10 million face videos from 90 countries.

Smart Eye are pioneers in eye-tracking that understands, assists, and predicts human intentions and actions to “bridge the gap between man and machine for a better, sustainable tomorrow.”

It’s not difficult to see why Affectiva believes its AI system with Smart Eye’s eye-tracking has such huge potential for completely revolutionising the interactions between humans and computers—improving accessibility, capabilities, and safety.

Dr Rana el Kaliouby, Co-Founder and CEO of Affectiva, said:

“We are thrilled to be merging with Smart Eye as the next step in Affectiva’s journey. This is a unique and exciting opportunity for us to join Smart Eye in bringing to market advanced AI with more comprehensive capabilities than either of us could provide alone.

Not only are our technologies very complementary, so are our values, our teams, our culture, and perhaps most importantly, our vision for the future.

We share a conviction that the AI we are building now will one day become ubiquitous. It will be built into the fabric of the technologies we use in our daily lives and will forever change the way we interact with technology and each other in a digital world.”

Smart Eye has over two decades of experience in eye-tracking and delivering automotive-grade Driver Monitoring Systems (DMS). The company already has 84 production contracts with 12 of the 20 largest global OEMs in the automotive sector.

Martin Krantz, Founder and CEO of Smart Eye, commented:

“As we watched the DMS category evolve into Interior Sensing, monitoring the whole cabin, we quickly recognized Affectiva as a major player to watch.

Affectiva’s pioneering work in establishing the field of Emotion AI has served as a powerful platform for bringing this technology to market at scale. At the end of the day, this is about saving lives and bridging the gap between humans and machines.

In the future, looking back at this moment in time, I am convinced that this is a decisive moment for road safety thanks to the announcement that we have made today.”

Affectiva has been increasing its focus on the automotive sector which it believes to be very exciting due to the rapid advancements being made with connected and even driverless vehicles.

In March, Affectiva was granted six patents for detecting the awareness and emotions of vehicle occupants.

Gabi Zijderveld, CMO of Affectiva, told AI News earlier this year:

“Back in 2018, we launched Affectiva Automotive AI, the first multi-modal in-cabin sensing solution to understand what is happening with people in a vehicle. It uses cameras in the car to measure, in real-time, the state of the driver, the state of the occupants, and the state of the vehicle interior (i.e. cabin).

This insight helps car manufacturers, fleet management companies and rideshare providers improve road safety, by understanding dangerous driver behaviour such as drowsiness, distraction and anger. It can also be used to create more comfortable and enjoyable transportation experiences, by understanding how passengers react to the environment, including content they can consume in the back of the car.”

With so much competition in the in-car AI space, Affectiva and Smart Eye have decided to stop effectively competing against each other and pool their resources to build industry-leading innovations.

Given what both companies have achieved as separate entities, we look forward to seeing what they can do together.

(Image Credit: Affectiva)

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