It is on its way to becoming the future attraction on smartphones sold worldwide. The startup Prophesee, in the shadows since 2014, has just received the support from Xiaomi on the occasion of a size round table. The C series of this French specialist in computer vision has just enabled him to recover 50 million euros. At the same time, its management chose to announce to the general public its interest in producing parts for the smartphone and augmented reality market.
Sony and Qualcomm also covet the company, even if Prophesee prefers to remain discreet about it. The French nugget has a disruptive technology and icing on the cake, its interest will be directly perceptible by users. The component will influence the camera performance.
Making its technology a reference for the various brands of smartphones would be an exceptional opportunity for France to integrate a little more into the global production chain of the market with billions of euros in revenue per year. Prophesee is a startup classified among the “deep tech”, these companies with highly innovative technologies that require much more time than others before being able to move to commercialization.
A component for cameras (and more)
In essence, the French startup is developing a sensor that uses the principle of operation of the eye human, to improve the capabilities of smartphone photo modules. To understand its interest, you must first understand how a smartphone camera works. Unlike the traditional camera market, our mobiles owe the quality of their photos largely to the software. Artificial enhancement therefore requires the module to analyze the image it wishes to capture. It is on this point that Prophesee innovates.
In the form of a tiny sensor, the startup’s image analysis technology is faster and requires fewer resources than conventional analysis sensors. Efficiency that can be measured and on which smartphone brands see an opportunity to relieve the battery of their smartphones and make it possible to more beautiful shots. The main difference is that the new sensor only focuses on dynamic elements in the image – in other words, anything that moves. A hierarchy of information that the human eye also does.
“We generate 100 times less data by removing static redundant information. It also makes it possible to process information much faster, on the order of a microsecond” explained the founder of Prophesee Luca Verre, to Figaro. The heart of the smartphone is relieved, the device requires less power, and the result for customers is also even better. Prophesee notably highlights the gain in quality for photos taken in low light, to reduce the risk of motion blur.
The very clever eye of Luca Verre, polytechnician
The technology behind the tricolor nugget would therefore be a real step forward for well-motivated smartphone brands to improve their devices at a time when technological innovations on smartphones are few and the camera remains a major argument for sales. Passed by Lyon, polytechnician Luca Verre explained that he had seen the full potential of the technology after working on it in the Vision Institute’s research labs.
Prophecy already markets products, but for professional use, in industry. Strategically, the startup took its time, between 2020 and today, to start deploying its technology in a more traditional market (but no less more specialized). A way to free up time and money to prepare the smartphone market for the tens of billions of euros in revenue generated per year.