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IoT in motion: cash flows to connected vehicles

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Venture capitalists and strategic investors are focusing on “smart” vehicles, from drones to autonomous cars. This week a drone services provider and a maker of augmented reality display technology both announced funding rounds. An internet of things solutions provider for low-power wide area networks also announced two strategic investors.

Drone services provider Measure raised $15 million to provide photos and data from unmanned aerial vehicles to wireless carriers and other corporate customers. The company named cell tower inspections as its leading vertical, but it is also targeting construction development, precision agriculture, disaster response and live media coverage. This round of financing includes Cognizant Technology Solutions.

Measure, which was spun out of consultancy 32 Advisors in 2015, has office in Washington, D.C., and Houston. The company has said its Beltway location is a strategic advantage as federal aviation regulators work to refine the rules governing the use of unmanned aerial vehicles.

DigiLens, which makes technology for augmented and virtual reality, closed a $22 million Series B financing round with a group of investors that includes Sony, Foxconn, Continental, Panasonic, Alsop Louie Partners, Bold Capital, Nautilus Venture Partners and Dolby Family Ventures. DigiLens makes waveguide diffractive optical technology and nanomaterials, and its AeroHUD product is currently being used in flight by Rockwell Collins. Next the company hopes to bring to market augmented reality displays and sensors for enterprise, consumer and transportation applications.

“We believe augmented reality … will not only enhance driver safety, but also accelerate automated driving acceptance by enhancing the driver’s confidence in what the car actually sees and knows,” said Helmut Matschi, head of the interior division at Continental, a German automotive company. “The large AR-HUD display will help keep drivers safe by putting critical travel information at eye level and allowing them to see what the robot car sees.”

“Augmented reality is a challenge, in part, because the devices are restrained by the laws of physics and not Moore’s Law,” said Foxconn CTO G. Chen. “We think diffractive optics holds the key to AR, but writing millions of tiny optic structures is best done photographically, using nano self-assembly, not expensive precision etching like HoloLens. We need to break the manufacturing price barrier. With DigiLens waveguide diffractive optics, they seem to have overcome most nagging technical problems and we see a very bright future for them.”

Iot solutions provider TrackNet raised $7 million from a group of investors that included Minol Zenner Group and Gemtek Corporation. TrackNet makes software for devices connected to LoRa wide area networks. LoRa is a networking standard developed specifically for the IoT, and TrackNet said its founders, who come from Semtech, IBM and Cisco, were key players in the development of the LoRa Alliance. TrackNet is focused on developing end-to-end solutions that include sensors, gateways and applications.

Gemtek is a Taiwanese provider of wireless broadband solutions that has been working for a number of years on low-power wide area networks. Minol Zenner Group is a German provider of meter reading services and energy billing services for residences.

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