Israeli start-up now worth over $1 billion

Makers of Mobileye develop revolutionary device to help the blind, dyslexics - and anyone who gets tired of reading.

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Mordechai Sones,

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Mobileye logo
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The founders of the Mobileye car safety device have topped the $1 billion mark once again - this time with OrCam, an Israeli start-up founded in 2010 by Ziv Aviram and Amnon Shashua

OrCam raised another $30 million after selling a 3% stake in the company Monday, reports Yediot Aharonot. Even before the latest fund-raising operation, the company had already topped $1 billion in total value. Only in April of last year, in the previous financing round, the company was worth $600 million - meaning that the company's value has soared a whopping 67% in less than one year. OrCam's value upsurge puts the company in the "Unicorn" club, start-ups with a value of over $1 billion.

Since its inception, the company has raised more than $100 million in lisquid assets, and is expected to embark on another fundraising round later this year and then prepare to be taken public, not before 2020, and apparently on Nasdaq, where Mobileye was floated before it. OrCam's latest fundraising provided a second wind thanks to Mobileye's sale to Intel last March for $15.3 billion. The current fundraising was led by Clal Insurance and the Meitav Dash investment house.

OrCam has developed a computer vision device that can be mounted on glasses and is designed to help visually impaired people, the blind, dyslexics, and those who tire easily of reading. The device includes a miniature video camera, a processing unit, and a rechargeable power unit, and uses an algorithm developed by the company through which the device can read texts. Similarly, the device knows how to identify products, colors, and currency. The device can also recognize up to 100 people's faces, which the user enters into the device. This allows the device user to identify family members, friends, and colleagues. The information is transmitted almost immediately by voice.

The technology behind the device is similar to that used by Mobileye and stands at the forefront of identification technology. Last month the company introduced its new model, MyEye 2.0, at the CES conference in Las Vegas. The price of the device is about $3,500- $4,500, and the company hopes that government health services will subsidize part of the cost.

Shashua serves as the company's technology manager and Aviram as CEO. Aviram told Yediot Ahronot yesterday: "This is a technological leap. The new model is the size of a finger and doesn't require another device to be attached to it by wire. It's also 20 times more powerful in terms of computing ability. The lenses are improved and this enables more remote vision and reading smaller letters. We've also added millions of products that can be identified using a bar code. Face recognition is greatly improved, and 12 languages are included in the device. In the current version, a microphone has been inserted that can speak to the device, so you can ask questions."

According to Aviram, "Today it's clear to us that more than a billion people need the device, including the dyslexic population which suffers from difficulty reading. But the biggest segment is people with reading difficulties like the older population who get tired of reading."

PM (C), Intel CEO, Economy Minister, and Mobileye Mobileye founders Amnon Shashua (L) and Ziv Aviram (R)
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