2010-2020: A decade of innovation at Smart Eye
We can conclude that 2019 has been a significant one for Smart Eye. It’s been a year full of great innovations and success, as well as the incredible 27 design wins Smart Eye has been rewarded over the course of 2019 alone. Now we look forward to the dawn of a brand-new decade with even greater innovations and success.
From crisis to serial contracts
When thinking back on the last time we were entering a new decade, we’re struck by just how much that has happened these last ten years. By the end of 2009, Smart Eye was still dealing with the aftermath of the Lehman crash. The global financial crisis of 2008 hit the car industry hard. Suddenly, car manufacturers’ main priority became surviving until the next quarter, and the incorporation of new, innovative technology had to wait. This forced Smart Eye to take a step back from the automotive industry, and we entered 2010 as a company solely focusing on research instruments. At that point, we could not know which car manufacturers would survive the crisis or if we would even get the chance to deliver our technology to the automotive industry again.
But before long, things started to turn around. After about a year, in late 2010, requests from automotive clients began dropping in again. And by the end of 2011, the pendulum had swung, and the car industry was back on track with a renewed vigour.
After several years of hard work and occasional uncertainty, we finally received our first serial contract in 2015. And during the next few years, we were able to turn that one contract into 57 contracts – including car manufacturers and industry giants on almost every continent. From then on, our focus was largely placed on fulfilling the trust put in us and making sure we would eventually see more and more cars with Smart Eye’s technology on the roads.
Eye tracking in the 2020’s
With everything that has happened over the course of these last ten years, the natural development for Smart Eye has been the thoroughly expansive phase we are still going through. In 2009, we were less than 15 dedicated people working at Smart Eye. Today, we are approximately 150 talented women and men around the globe.
There is no denying that these past ten years have paved the way for a very exciting future. Of the 57 car models the 2010’s has landed us; many are set to go into mass production during the first two years of the 2020’s. And during the next ten years, we hope to see the idea we have worked with from the very beginning become a reality.
Furthermore, due to regulations recently approved by the European Union, there will not be a new car model launched on the European market from 2022 that does not feature advanced safety systems including driver drowsiness and attention warning, as well as advanced driver distraction warning. Meanwhile, similar regulations are being adapted in China. The Euro NCAP are even adjusting their rating system to include driver monitoring as a vital safety measurement. By 2030, we hope to be able to point to mass-produced cars all over the world where Smart Eye’s technology is saving lives.
Unknown to ubiquitous – the development of eye tracking technology
Over the last decade, some of us have had the pleasure to witness first-hand how eye tracking has gone from being a relatively unknown concept to something more and more ubiquitous. Ten years ago, very few people knew what eye tracking was. We were starting to get used to people telling us that while they understood the concept, they could not understand what they were supposed to use the technology for. That is a question we barely ever hear anymore.
These days, you can find eye tracking or facial recognition almost everywhere. Smartphones, computers, gaming equipment, disability aids, vehicles, VR – the list goes on. And pretty soon, we will most likely be able to add airplanes, buses and trains to that line-up. Today, almost everyone is realizing that a greater understanding for a user’s mind and intentions is a vital part of creating a better user experience – and therefore incredibly valuable.
Of course, this is what convinced our very first colleagues and passionate eye tracking advocates at the very beginning. We never doubted that we were dedicating our careers to something useful and valuable.
And it may have taken some time, but during these last ten years, the rest of the world seems to have caught on to the benefits of eye tracking. Now, we can feel quite certain that we have not received our last car contract, car manufacturer or design win.
Since 2009, Smart Eye has not just grown to involve ten times as many people, we have become an integrated wheel in the great machinery that is the global car industry of today. The last time we were entering a new decade, we were merely looking in, trying to catch a glimpse of what it might be like to be on the inside. This time, we have a crystal-clear view.