4D Imaging Startup Develops Sensor to ‘See Through Walls’

Article By : Anne-Françoise Pelé

Israeli startup Vayyar Imaging Ltd. has raised $109 million in a series D financing round.

Israeli startup Vayyar Imaging Ltd. has raised $109 million in a series D financing round to scale its 4D radar imaging technology and further expand the range of applications. The total capital raised to date is $188 million.  

Superman vision
At the time Raviv Melamed, Naftali Chayat, and Miri Ratner founded Vayyar, their ambition was to develop an alternative for breast cancer detection, using RF to quickly and affordably look into human tissue and detect malignant growth. Eight years later, their 4D imaging sensor goes beyond the medical sphere to serve a myriad of markets. 

Vayyar claims it has designed a small, sensor-based chip that, with its 72 transmitters and 72 receivers, tracks and maps everything without a camera. It detects obstacles and monitors people’s location, movement, height, posture and vital signs wirelessly, in all lighting and weather conditions, and in real time. A key differentiator is its ability to “see” through walls, closed doors, and other solid objects, the company said.  

And because Vayyar uses radio frequency waves to detect objects -unlike other products that rely on cameras and optics- its sensors do not collect any optic data, protecting users’ privacy.

A, B, C, D
In 2017, the Israeli company closed a $45 million Series C financing round co-led by Walden Riverwook and ITI with additional funding from Claltech, Battery Ventures, Bessemer Ventures, Israel Cleantech Ventures and Amiti. 

Two years later, EE Times asked Vayyar’s co-founder and CEO Raviv Melamed what the financing made possible. “Our Series C funding was used to further develop our core technology, including the launch of the world’s most advanced 4D (3D+motion) radar imaging sensor, which now serves as the basis for our products,” he said. “Additionally, we were able to expand our focus to create customized solutions for more vertical markets and expand geographically beyond the U.S. with a focus on Asia and Europe.” 

The funds also served to further build out Vayyar’s B2C business and launch more products, including its own line of consumer products under the Walabot brand. 

The new $109 million investment, led Koch Disruptive Technologies, the venture arm of Koch Industries, aims to give Vayyar the scale and efficiencies it needs to develop its 4D radar imaging technology. “Our plan is to deepen our capabilities in our three core markets -automotive, retail and smart home- while providing new solutions in some secondary markets such as homeland security, robotics, and testing,” Melamed said. “We also plan to expand our global footprint by opening new offices and growing our teams around the globe.”

Automotive, retail and smart home
Today, Vayyar’s primary markets are automotive, retail and smart home, but the ambition is to rapidly expand in other areas of growth. 

In the automotive domain, Vayyar claims its chip enables in-cabin passenger location and classification, occupant size, vital sign and posture analysis, as well as 360° exterior mapping, including monitoring cars, objects and pedestrians around a vehicle. Melamed commented: “we offer an in-cabin solution that can monitor passengers in a vehicle and alert when these appears to be an issue -we’re seeing a lot of demand for this type of technology when it comes to babies accidentally being left in cars with dire consequences.” 

(Image: Vayyar Imaging Ltd.)
(Image: Vayyar Imaging Ltd.)

At last year’s Paris Motor Show, French automotive supplier Valeo indeed announced it was integrating Vayyar’s radar sensors with its products to monitor infants’ breathing and trigger an alert in case of emergency. This includes cases when an infant has been left inside a vehicle alone. Companies then said they would work together toward mass production readiness to change the standard of safety in the automotive industry.  

In the retail sector, Melamed noted, Vayyar’s sensor technology is used to track and map everything happening within stores, to measure conversion rates and inventory levels, as well as provide e-commerce analytics for brick-and-mortar shops. 

Because falls are a major health risk for older people, Vayyar is also providing systems that track seniors’ activity patterns, identify when a fall occurs and generate an alert for help, and predict health deterioration to enable early assistance. “Our technology is used both for seniors living at home as well as in senior living and hospital facilities.” 

Asked about the company’s long-term vision, Melamed said the goal is to provide “affordable 4D radar imaging sensors that will positively impact people’s everyday lives in different industries such as elderly care, automotive safety and experience, homeland security, and medical.” 

In terms of collaborations, Melamed said Vayyar is currently working with SoftBank, Valeo Faurecia, Brose, “along with several exciting premier and Tier-1 brands that we hope to announce in 2020.” 

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