Hokuyo to Leverage SiLC’s 4D+ Vision Chip to Improve the Next Generation of Automation Solutions
OSAKA, Japan and MONROVIA, Calif., Sept. 21, 2021 – Hokuyo Automatic Co., Ltd., a global manufacturer of sensor and automation technology, and machine vision innovator SiLC Technologies, Inc. (SiLC) have jointly announced a strategic collaboration to develop cost-effective 4D LiDAR solutions that improve machine vision in the next generation of advanced industrial and robotic applications.
According to a recent study from the Craig Hallum Capital Group, the industrial robotics LiDAR market is expected to reach $4.5B by 2025. The research indicates that the increasing adoption of robots across industrial sectors is leading to the application of 4D LiDAR guided machine vision systems.
The synergies brought forth by the partnership between SiLC and Hokuyo – including innovation, market applications and near-term product availability – are poised to accelerate the state of machine vision.
Based on FMCW technology, SiLC’s 4D solution is the industry’s first and only fully-integrated coherent LiDAR chip, adding critical vector measurements such as polarization intensity, velocity and motion to make machine perception closer to human visual cognition. SiLC’s solution also exceeds key performance metrics, such as range, resolution and accuracy, offered by existing solutions.
Hokuyo, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, is a pioneer in automation technology. According to Hitoshi Ozaki, president at Hokuyo, “4D LiDAR will provide longer range, higher precision, instantaneous velocity and interference-free operation. SiLC is the first company to integrate all of the laser, detectors and optical processing technology needed to create compact, viable solutions in the market. Our collaboration with SiLC enables us to jointly architect an FMCW LiDAR solution that extends Hokuyo’s leadership and customer solutions.”
“Industries are eagerly embracing robotic automation strategies,” noted Mehdi Asghari, CEO of SiLC Technologies. “In order for machines to reach their full potential, a highly tuned vision element is needed – and that is where we come in. Enabling machines to see more like humans brings forth infinite possibilities. Collaborating with Hokuyo allows us to bring our FMCW technology to market and jointly advance industrial automation and robotics applications.”
Hokuyo Automation, founded in Osaka, Japan in 1946, is a pioneer of automation technology offering a full range of industrial sensor products for the factory automation, logistics automation and process automation industries. Hokuyo’s products include collision-avoidance sensors, safety laser and obstacle detection scanners, optical data transmission devices, laser rangefinders (LiDAR) and hot metal detectors. By combining reliable technology, comprehensive product distribution and unparalleled service and support, the company has maintained an outstanding reputation for creativity and performance with customers.
About SiLC Technologies
On a mission to enable machines to see like humans, SiLC Technologies is bringing forth its deep expertise in silicon photonics to advance market deployment of 4D LiDAR solutions. The company’s breakthrough 4D+ Vision Chip integrates all photonics functions needed to enable a coherent vision sensor, offering a tiny footprint while addressing the need for low cost and low power. SiLC’s innovations are targeted to robotics, autonomous vehicles, biometrics, security, industrial automation and other leading markets.
SiLC was founded in 2018 by silicon photonics industry veterans with decades of commercial product development and manufacturing experience. SiLC’s 4D LiDAR chip has been recognized by Frost & Sullivan as ideally positioned to disrupt the global LiDAR market and the company has been named a Cool Vendor in Silicon Photonics by Gartner.
SiLC’s Proprietary Silicon Photonics Integration Solution Slated to Disrupt the Global LiDAR Market
MONROVIA, Calif., May 24, 2021 – Machine vision innovator SiLC Technologies, Inc., today announced a $17 million Series A funding round led by Alter Venture Partners and Dell Technologies Capital with additional participation from Fluxunit – OSRAM Ventures, Sony Innovation Fund by IGV*, Epson, UMC Capital, Yamato Holdings and Global Brain.
Following a $12 million seed round in 2020, the new financing brings SiLC’s total funding to over $30 million. The additional financing will be used to expand SiLC’s operations, accelerate product development and gain additional production design wins – all in preparation for pre-production and product launch activities.
Over the last year, SiLC has provided development systems to customers that are at the forefront of their respective market segments, including mobility, industrial machine vision, robotics, augmented reality, and consumer applications. The new funds will help further customer traction and support bringing these products to market.
Currently being readied for broad deployment, SiLC’s advanced, production-ready 4D+ Vision Chip offers best-in-class performance metrics across range, resolution and accuracy for LiDARs. The 4D+ Vision Chip accomplishes this in a much smaller footprint and on an already proven scalable manufacturing platform. Additionally, it is the only solution on the market adding critical vector measurements including velocity, light polarization, and reflectivity. The additional information derived from this data provides context and greatly improves perception of the environment, a breakthrough that has wide-ranging applications for autonomous vehicles, biometrics and security, robotics, and more.
“Image processing capabilities of AI systems remain vastly inferior to those of humans, despite the use of massive computing power and high-resolution camera sensors,” said Mehdi Asghari, founder and CEO, SiLC. “The key difference is that our visual cognition is based on far more information than traditional image sensors. Our 4D+ vision sensors provide critical additional data and cues needed for efficient machine image processing and visual cognition much like the human eye does to the brain. The quality of investors we have attracted underscores the transformative potential of SiLC’s unique technology. This latest funding round will be critical as we continue on our journey towards revolutionizing the 3D sensor market.”
Investors Speak Out on SiLC
Founded in 2018 by a team with more than 25 years of experience in photonics, SiLC has developed a significant body of intellectual property, as well as a proprietary process for manufacturing high-performance optical components at large scale. The result is the creation of the industry’s first and only fully integrated FMCW 4D imaging chip – a significant step forward in the quest to make machine vision more like human vision.
For more information, please visit www.silc.com.
About Alter Venture Partners
Alter Venture Partners is an early-stage venture capital fund that partners with dynamic entrepreneurs who are passionate about solving challenging problems with innovative technology. Alter was founded by experienced operating executives and investment professionals from Telefonica, Comcast Ventures, Singtel Innov8, and Credit Suisse. In addition to capital, Alter provides strategic insights, industry knowledge, operating experience, and an extensive global network of contacts to its portfolio companies. The fund’s focus areas include networking, mobility, cloud, data, ML/AI, and cyber security. Alter has offices in San Francisco and Lisbon. Additional information on the fund can be found at www.altervp.com.
About Dell Technologies Capital
The Dell Technologies Capital investment team is comprised of company builders with the mission of helping founders and their teams develop innovative technology solutions and bring them to market. They are active investors, sustaining an investment pace of approximately $150 million a year. As the global investment practice for the Dell Technologies family of businesses (Dell, Dell EMC, Pivotal, RSA, SecureWorks, Virtustream and VMware), Dell Technologies Capital offers deep business and technical expertise and unparalleled go-to-market assistance to our portfolio companies. After operating in stealth for five years, the venture practice emerged publicly in 2017. Headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif., Dell Technologies Capital currently has offices in Boston, Austin and Herzliya, Israel. For more information visit www.delltechnologies.com/capital.
About SiLC Technologies
On a mission to enable machines to see like humans, SiLC Technologies is bringing forth its deep expertise in silicon photonics to advance market deployment of coherent 4D imaging solutions. The company’s breakthrough chip integrates all photonics functions needed to enable a coherent 4D vision sensor offering a tiny footprint while addressing the need for low cost and low power. Demonstrations have shown a range beyond 300 meters and are applicable to a wide range of applications.
Founded in 2018 by silicon photonics industry veterans with decades of commercial product development and manufacturing experience, SiLC uses a proprietary silicon-based semiconductor fabrication process to manufacture its chips and standard, automated IC style assembly processes, enabling robust, cost-effective and compact solutions.
This recognition comes on the heels of SiLC being selected by EETimes as one of the emerging silicon startups to watch worldwide. According to the Frost & Sullivan report, SiLC’s proprietary 4D LIDAR chip is ideally positioned to disrupt the global LIDAR market due to its unique capabilities with broad applications, including autonomous vehicles, machine vision, and augmented reality.
“We’re delighted by this recognition and greatly appreciate the depth and quality of Frost & Sullivan’s analysis of SiLC’s breakthrough Smart 4D Vision Sensor technology,” said Mehdi Asghari, CEO of SiLC Technologies. “We also appreciate that Frost & Sullivan highlighted the breadth of our technology, which has the potential to replace ToF-based LiDAR sensors used in applications from automotive advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and self-driving autonomous vehicles to augmented reality, security, and industrial machine vision.”
Each year, Frost & Sullivan embarks on a rigorous selection and benchmarking process for its technology innovation leadership awards and recognizes companies that lead the development and successful introduction of high-tech solutions to customers’ most pressing needs.
“With the growing demand for LiDAR solutions across emerging applications and industry trends, such as autonomous vehicles and Industry 4.0, SiLC Technologies is poised to emerge as a forerunner in FMCW-based LiDAR solutions,” said Frost & Sullivan’s Varun Babu, Industry Analyst, TechVision. Furthermore, the firm’s Best Practices research group reports that SiLC Technologies’ Smart Vision is expected to disrupt the global LiDAR market in the next three to five years by providing in-depth, detailed information about objects in many user environments.
The report states, “SiLC Technologies’ proprietary silicon photonic 4D chip-scale imaging platform manufactured utilizing CMOS fabrication infrastructure is likely to be a game-changer. SiLC’s plan to adopt a semiconductor business model to make its solutions widely available to many end users and developers across a broad range of applications and markets should enable aggregate volume scaling beyond what any single player could enable and hence offer cost points that would otherwise not be possible. Furthermore, SiLC’s solution has already demonstrated long-range (>300m) and high resolution. This added to its integrated approach enabling compact footprint, low power dissipation, and solid-state reliability is likely to offer a platform that could be capable of ubiquitous deployment.”
Frost & Sullivan’s market research forecasts, “The global market for CMOS image sensors will approach about $30 billion over the next few years, positioning SiLC Technologies, with its recent release of high-performance 4D+ Vision Chip, to achieve optimum growth in the near future.”
Frost & Sullivan concludes, “SiLC Technologies’ patent-protected technology and broad customer engagements should provide it with vast growth opportunities to build a global footprint over the long term. As a pioneering market participant, the company’s positioning and marketing strategy for its production-scalable technology will allow it to capture significant market share in the coming years.”
SiLC’s silicon photonics integration platform offers a cost-effective solution by integrating all the high-performance components needed into a single silicon chip through mature semiconductor fabrication processes offering a low cost, compact, and low power solution.
MONROVIA, Calif., March 5, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — SiLC Technologies, Inc., (SiLC), the leading developer of integrated single-chip FMCW LiDAR solutions, today announced that it closed $12 million in seed funding led by Dell Technologies Capital. Decent Capital, ITIC Ventures, and several prominent angel investors also participated in the funding round. SiLC will use the funding to scale its R&D and operations to develop its frequency modulated continuous wave (FMCW) silicon photonic 4D+ Vision Chip platform.
SiLC was founded in 2018 by silicon photonics Industry veterans. Founder and CEO Mehdi Asghari was part of the executive team that led Bookham to its IPO in 2000 and later joined the leadership team at Kotura, which was acquired by Mellanox in 2013. SiLC has developed a significant body of intellectual property, as well as a proprietary process for manufacturing high-performance optical components at large scale.
“Integrating all essential functions necessary to build an FMCW chip on a cost-effective silicon platform represents the holy grail of LiDAR,” said Daniel Docter, Managing Director, Dell Technologies Capital. “SiLC’s team has over twenty years of experience and a proven track record commercializing silicon photonics solutions. After looking at more than 30 different LiDAR companies, we found SiLC to be the only company that has a viable approach for large-scale adoption of LiDAR in automotive and industrial robotics.”
The announcement follows a successful showing at CES 2020, where SiLC demonstrated the industry’s first fully-integrated FMCW chip and an unprecedented long-range LiDAR resolution. Utilizing its second-generation FMCW silicon photonics 4D+ Vision Chip to generate scans, SiLC was able to detect objects smaller than one and a half inches at a range of nearly 200 meters, translating to an effective resolution of around 0.01 degrees vertically and horizontally. This level of performance capability can enable a vehicle traveling at highway speed to stop or avoid objects at more than 200 meters range, a critical aspect of autonomous vehicle navigation and safety.
“This is my third startup and by far the most exciting, both at a technology level and the size of the markets it addresses. We believe we have an opportunity to transform several industries,” said Mehdi Asghari, founder and CEO, SiLC. “Our 4D+ Vision Chip technology will not only make LiDAR a commercial reality but will also enable applications ranging from robotics to AR/VR to biometric scanning.”
SiLC’s advanced production-ready 4D+ Vision Chip exceeds the performance metrics, such as range, resolution, accuracy offered by most LiDARs in a much smaller footprint, while adding critical vector measurements such as velocity, light polarization, and reflectivity.
“SiLC enables a dramatic advancement to 4D imaging and associated LiDAR technology while enabling a much needed cost volume scaling that follows the dynamics of the semiconductor industry,” said Liqing Zeng chairman of Decent Capital and co-founder of Tencent Holdings Ltd., one of China’s most valuable corporations. “We see incredible growth potential for SiLC, especially considering the experience and track record of the team.”
For more information about SiLC visit www.silc.com.
About SiLC Technologies
SiLC Technologies, Inc. is a leading provider of highly integrated FMCW LiDAR solutions, located in Monrovia, Southern California. The company’s initial focus is on its integrated 4D+ Vision Chip, which has demonstrated a range of beyond 300 meters and applicable to a wide range of applications. Founded by a group of highly experienced industry veterans with over 20 years of commercial product development and manufacturing heritage, SiLC utilizes a proprietary silicon-based semiconductor fabrication process to manufacture its chips and standard, automated IC style assembly processes, enabling robust, cost-effective and compact solutions. Please visit us at SiLC.com.
About Dell Technologies Capital
Dell Technologies Capital is the global venture capital investment arm of Dell Technologies. The investment team backs passionate early stage founders who push the envelope on technology innovation for enterprises. Since inception in 2012, the team has sustained an investment pace of $150 million a year and has invested in more than 100 startups, 40 of which have been acquired and 5 have gone public. Portfolio companies also gain unique access to the go-to-market capabilities of Dell Technologies (Dell, Dell EMC, VMWare, Pivotal, RSA, Secureworks). Notable investments include Adallom, Arista Networks, Cylance, Docusign, Graphcore, JFrog, MongoDB, Netskope, Nutanix, RedLock, RiskRecon, TwistLock, Wavefront and Zscaler. Headquartered in Palo Alto, California, Dell Technologies Capital has offices in Boston, Austin, and Israel. For more information visit www.delltechcapital.com.
SiLC’s compact LiDAR chip architecture can be inconspicuously embedded anywhere on a vehicle for optimal vision and safety. SiLC’s 4D+ Vision Chip integrates all required functionality, such as a coherent light source and optical signal processing, to enable significant additional information to be extracted from the returning photons before their conversion to electrons. SiLC’s vision sensor can detect height, width, distance, reflectivity, velocity, and light polarization of objects. The coherent interferometric sensing approach improves achievable accuracy by orders of magnitude over existing technologies. SiLC’s 4D+ Vision Chip can detect low reflectance objects beyond 200 meters surrounding a vehicle, providing enough time for a vehicle to avoid an obstacle at highway speeds.
“Varroc Lighting Systems is proud to showcase a milestone in embedded automotive LiDAR with SiLC, a leader in LiDAR innovation,” said Todd Morgan, Senior Vice President of Product Development for Varroc Lighting Systems. “We believe automotive lamps provide the optimum integration point for sensors at the four corners of the vehicle and at CES 2020 we are providing a glimpse into the future of automotive navigation combined with aesthetic design.”
“SiLC is excited to showcase its 4D+ Vision Chip at CES 2020 in partnership with Varroc Lighting Systems, and demonstrate the accuracy, range and elegance of embedded FMCW LiDAR in an automotive application,” said SiLC CEO Dr. Mehdi Asghari. “Our integrated LiDAR chip offers the most compact, cost-effective, eye-safe and accurate LiDAR solution available to meet autonomous vehicle safety and affordability requirements.”
SiLC also will demonstrate a 200+ meter LiDAR scan, showcasing the long range and accuracy of its 4D+ Vision Chip.
The demonstrations will take place at SiLC’s Westgate Hotel penthouse suite from Tuesday, January 7 through Friday, January 10.
Interested potential business partners should contact SiLC at contact@SiLC.com to schedule an appointment.
Interested reporters and analysts should contact contact@SiLC.com to schedule a demonstration and briefing.
About SiLC Technologies
SiLC Technologies, Inc. is a leading provider of highly integrated FMCW LiDAR solutions, located in Monrovia, Southern California. The company’s initial focus is on integrated 4D+ vision sensors targeting a wide range of applications. Founded by a group of highly experienced industry veterans with over 20 years of commercial product development and manufacturing heritage, SiLC utilizes a proprietary silicon-based semiconductor fabrication process to manufacture its chips and standard, automated IC style assembly processes, enabling robust, cost-effective and compact solutions. Please visit us at SiLC.com.
About Varroc Lighting Systems
Varroc Lighting Systems is a leading global supplier of innovative automobile and two-wheeler lighting solutions. Focused on safety, mobility and style, Varroc Lighting Systems brings leading-edge technology to the mainstream automotive market with high-quality and cost-competitive solutions. Headquartered in Plymouth, Michigan, U.S., the company has more than 8,000 employees worldwide with operations in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America. Varroc Lighting Systems is a key member of the Varroc Group family of automotive components business.
Ralf Muenster for SiLC Technologies, Inc.
Jackie Chizuk for Varroc Lighting Systems