The company's technology allowed for consumers to add backup camera functionality to their vehicle for $500, with the cameras transmitting the video directly to the user's smartphone. Smartphones could then be mounted to the windshield or dashboard to act similar to a built-in backup camera found on many newer vehicles.
Pearl Automation's product was aimed at the millions of older vehicles that lack backup cameras, but the product proved too costly with many alternatives offering cheaper prices.
The highly-funded company received investments from Accel, Shasta Ventures and Venrock, with a total of $50 million raised. The company claims they needed several hundreds of millions of dollars to develop both a front and rear camera option.
"We ran out of money," states CEO Bryson Gardner. He claims that his company was "probably two years ahead of our time."
The company consisted of nearly 50 former Apple employees and 75 employees in total.
Investor sentiment began to wane when the company failed to develop a clear path for their product. Investors were unwilling to invest more money into the company.
A partner for Venrock said "none of us understood the market correctly," and praised the company's leadership, calling them "extraordinary product people."
The company was in talks to sell its operations to several companies in the automotive industry, but talks never led to an agreement. The company's RearVision backup camera will be taken over by American Road Products.
Employees at the company are trying to stick together and join a new company as a team.
RearVision offers two wide-angle cameras that connect to a license plate cover. The product would send video to the on-board OBD-II adapter that was responsible for sending the video to the accompanying app.
The app offered live feed video along with audible alerts when motion was detected in the camera.
The company's closure has not been formally announced by the company, with the latest update being on June 9 when the company released version 1.5 of their software. The update allowed for greater performance enhancement, and allowed for questions and answers to be given directly in the app.
Pearl Automotive's technology was aimed at making backing up safer for drivers. The company states that the RearVision camera is "Now an American Road Safety Product" on the company's website. The company states that "the average bumper collision repair costs over $3,000."
The camera aimed to reduce collisions and curb pedestrian injuries, too.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA), rear visibility devices manufactured on or after May 1, 2018 will be required for all vehicles under 10,000 pounds. The NHTSA estimates that 58 – 69 deaths from car accidents can be prevented each year with backup cameras.
The new regulations have pushed often-reluctant automobile manufacturers to incorporate backup cameras in all of their new vehicles. Reports suggest that BMW will also streamline backup cameras in all of their new vehicles in 2018 in a long-awaited move.
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