The smartphone market has seen a technology race in terms of camera performance, in symbiosis with popular social media sites and photo applications. Market leading devices are now capable of near-professional still photography, and investments are being made in both optical and electronic hardware stabilization technologies. This has led to sharper still photography in more challenging situations, and also to some improvements in video capture. However, Imint’s assessment of market drivers is that a game-changing, revolutionary rather than evolutionary, incremental technology step needs to be taken to turn consumer handheld video cameras from toys with short-lived interest, to something useful and truly capable. In studies, one critical barrier preventing a tipping point for mobile video usage is identified – the experience of quality is unsatisfying, as unintended motion from moving the body and camera gives a wobbly, amateurish feeling.
Imint – Image Intelligence AB (Imint) was spun out of next-generation research conducted at the Uppsala University, Center for Image Analysis, and has been providing its intelligent video processing software Vidhance® to the technologically demanding industrial and defense markets, where it is used to improve time critical decision making from remote video feeds, such as military surveillance from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and remotely operated submarines. The Vidhance software algorithms have been tuned over the years to meet hard requirements from these traditional markets, where harsh filming conditions, real-time requirements and resource limited portable computer systems are common.
Accelerating interest in this software platform for consumer devices, with similar visual quality challenges as in the defense markets, has promted Imint to engage with partners to bring the technology to broad consumer benefits and to propel consumer video usage, thereby unlocking the true utility and economic potential of mobile video. Vidhance is a patented software algorithm package, that performs in real time with minimal latency and low processing requirements. Vidhance is implemented in mobile devices primarily in the lower OS levels, as device optimized extensions to camera drivers and hardware abstraction layers (HALs), thus providing benefits to all applications that use video capture.
The announced funding round is the largest in Imint’s history. All main owners contributed, including the private investor network PÄAB, Almi Invest, and the Uppsala University holding company, as well as private individuals. The last few months have seen a doubling of the core development team, and recruitment is still ongoing. Andreas Lifvendahl, Imint’s CEO commented on the raised capital:
“The support and backing from our owners in this phase is critical. As demands from our existing customers in the defense and industrial segment also increases, we needed to get a critical mass of skilled engineers, dedicated to this new opportunity on top of everything else. We are now making exciting progress almost on a day-to-day basis”.
Björn Berg, Chairman of the board of directors, concluded:
“Earlier this year, our main owners decided to venture into this new business segment. As the partner discussions have deepened, Imint’s value proposition has become even clearer. I am happy, but not surprised, to see this continued and increased willingness to push forward with even greater force.”