“Transatlantic AI Juggernaut” to Form in Merger
What happens when you cross a Swedish AI company with an American MIT spin-off? A juggernaut, those involved say.
Smart Eye, a Swedish AI eye-tracking developer and Affectiva, an MIT Media Lab spin-off, announce that they have entered into an agreement in which Smart Eye will acquire Affectiva for $73.5 million.
The companies are merging to create what they call a “transatlantic AI juggernaut” that will lead and accelerate the growth and development of the rapidly evolving automotive Interior Sensing market, as well as the Media Analytics and Human Factors Research markets.
Smart Eye has over two decades of experience building AI-based eye-tracking and delivering automotive-grade Driver Monitoring Systems (DMS). Spun out of MIT Media Lab in 2009, Emotion AI pioneer Affectiva has, in recent years, broadened its technology to in-cabin sensing, using machine learning and computer vision to gain a human-centric understanding of what is happening in a vehicle.
Rather than continuing as competitors in the automotive market, the companies are joining forces. By combining, Smart Eye and Affectiva aim to market unparalleled, automotive-grade Interior Sensing AI that is better and faster than the competition. The companies say that combined, its solutions will not only improve automotive safety, saving human lives around the world, it will also provide differentiated mobility experiences that enhance wellness, comfort and entertainment.
“As we watched the DMS category evolve into Interior Sensing, monitoring the whole cabin, we quickly recognized Affectiva as a major player to watch”, said Martin Krantz, Founder and CEO of Smart Eye. “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”.
In addition to strengthening Smart Eye’s automotive output, Affectiva offers its Media Analytics business. Used by 70 per cent of the world’s largest advertisers, Affectiva’s enterprise-grade technology analyzes consumers’ emotional reactions to brand content and experiences. This technology has synergies with Smart Eye’s Research Instruments solutions, which provide the research organizations with high-fidelity eye-tracking systems for human factors research.
The two believe the integration of Affectiva’s AI with Smart Eye’s eye-tracking systems can provide human factors researchers and marketers with a more “holistic and insightful view” of people’s behaviours. Combined, the two companies will capitalize on the continued growth of behavioural technologies within the marketing and research industries, which has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“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”, said Dr Rana el Kaliouby, Co-Founder and CEO of Affectiva. “Not only are our technologies very complimentary, 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”.
The acquisition expands Smart Eye’s global presence, where it is headquartered in Gothenburg (Sweden), with offices in Detroit (US), Tokyo (Japan), Chongqing (China), and Germany soon. Affectiva has offices in Boston and Cairo.
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