Since the start in 1999 Smart Eye has established itself as a significant and leading player within measurement of eye movements. At the same time, it is my firm belief that we have only seen the beginning of what eye tracking can do to help us in our daily lives. For a start, the technology is now built into cars and research laboratories but it will soon be an integrated part of every imaginable context and feel just as natural as cameras in mobile phones. This journey started in Sweden 20 years ago but has only just begun. As so many times before, a Swedish company has managed to carve out a niche for itself as a leader within an expansive area of technology. This is an expression of the country’s proud engineering traditions, fearless entrepreneurial spirit and outstanding university education programmes which time after time create globally competitive technology companies.
The business area for research applications does not live on its own merits. It also contributes to the exploration of exciting new market segments. The products are included as validation tools in series production projects and help to advance the technical front line for what can be achieved with eye tracking.
The first quarter started slowing but ended on a strong note. Sales grew by 95% compared with the corresponding quarter last year. The strengthened product range is actively marketed towards its intended customer groups. This means that the core segments, automotive and aviation, are both growing. We are proud to present new customers, including Canadian National Defence as well as several vehicle manufacturers in Asia and Europe. We intend to consolidate this growth journey within all geographies and customer segments through continued aggressive product development, marketing and strong partnerships with key players in the market.
The market for Automotive Solutions remains very strong and activities have actually exceeded our already high expectations. This is evident from an additional number of design wins to date but to an even greater extent in ongoing procurement processes which are expected to be announced during the current year. Smart Eye continues to be very strong in global competition for deals which are no longer confined to premium cars but increasingly moving towards the mass market with imminent high-volume projects. Our strategy is successful and our offering is powerful in all geographies. This can be seen in particular from our successes in the demanding Korean market which is known for its high quality requirements. A number of procurement processes are now underway in Asia, Europe and North America which will be decided during the current year and where we expect to defend our clearly market-leading position within driver monitoring.
Furthermore, activity in the regulatory area in Europe has increased significantly with the European Parliament recently voting through legislation which, subject to approval in all instances, will come into force as early as 2022 with full impact two years later, and will result in driver monitoring in all new cars sold in Europe. Euro NCAP has included driver monitoring in its 2025 Roadmap which in itself is expected to stimulate all European manufacturers. This means that the market, legislators and voluntary classification organisations collaborate to improve safety in the vehicle fleet, which suits Smart Eye very well. We expect that the American market will follow the same path shortly. Taken together, all this means that the major market potential that we have identified for some time has now become increasingly tangible and shifted closer in time. To meet this increased activity and fully capitalise on our market-leading positon, we have for some time been recruiting a number of talented employees of the highest quality. We now see a continued need to recruit and invest in the business in order to maintain our leading position and thus ensure our growth potential in the longer term.
Legislators in China are expected to demand driver monitoring systems in vehicles which has already pushed market players into action. This is not confined to new cars but will also apply to existing ones which opens up major opportunities in the commercial aftermarket. In recent years, Chinese car companies have advanced their positions within technology-heavy areas such as vehicle-related AI and electric drivetrains. Lead times are considerably shorter than in the more traditional markets in the West, which among other things means that pre-developed standard solutions are often preferred.
Smart Eye has been monitoring developments in China closely for some time and in view of the major market potential and our market-leading position within eye tracking, decided to evaluate this opportunity in a more focused context. This means that the existing software-based business model may be supplemented to be adapted to the needs of the Chinese market.
Martin Krantz is co-founder and CEO of Smart Eye, a leading eye-tracking technology provider based in Gothenburg, Sweden.