Volvo invests $2M in optics and imaging startup Spectralics

The venture arm of Volvo Cars, an automaker long synonymous with safety, has invested in an optics and imaging start-up that is developing technology that can be integrated into a car’s windshield or windows to deliver images to drivers and passengers .

Volvo Cars Tech Fund invested $2 million in odeveloper of ptics and imaging Spectrals, funds it will use to accelerate development of its optical film, which the company says can make cars safer and provide a better user experience. While the investment may not seem significant, the relationship with Volvo could be fruitful, especially if the technology makes its way into production vehicles.

Spectralics is developing a clear optical overlay, also known as a “multi-layer thin combiner”, that can be integrated on a car’s windshield or windows. Spectralics says this creates a wider field of view and, crucially, a sense of distance — both necessary for a secure augmented reality overlay.

Outside of the vehicle, the technology can also be used for smart glasses, optical systems and other head-up displays. It’s the latest sign that augmented and virtual reality is moving beyond gaming and consumer goods to the vehicle. It’s likely part of a broader shift by automotive OEMs to differentiate new cars not based on horsepower, but on user experiences and technology offerings.

While the introduction of AR/VR in cars has faced a number of bottlenecks, car manufacturers are leading the way in investing in companies developing this technology for in-cab applications. as Abigail Basset points out for TechCrunch+.

If Volvo’s investment in Spectralics was not enough, a spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch that the Swedish car giant wants to apply this technology in its cars. “Spectralics is a good portfolio for us and we believe their technology has the potential to set a standard for the next generation of displays and cameras,” said Lee Ma, head of Volvo Cars Tech Fund, in a statement.

Spectralics is an alumnus of MobilityXlab, an accelerator in Gothenburg, Sweden, and is also part of Drive-TLV, a mobility hub in Tel Aviv that connects startups with investors in the automotive industry. Volvo’s investment arm has been part of both initiatives since 2017 and has recently invested in a handful of other Israeli startups, including MDGo, which develops sensors for detecting accidents, and UVEye, which develops vehicle inspection technology.

The new funding now brings the total amount raised from the Israel-based startup to $5 million.

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