Smart Eye is to acquire Affectiva for US$73.5m.

The companies are merging to create a transatlantic AI operation that will work in the automotive Interior Sensing, as well as the Media Analytics and Human Factors Research markets.

Smart Eye has more than two decades of experience building AI-based eye tracking and delivering automotive-grade Driver Monitoring Systems (DMS), with 84 production contracts with 12 of the 20 largest global OEMs.

Spun out of MIT Media Lab in 2009, Emotion AI company, Affectiva has, in recent years, broadened its technology to in-cabin sensing, using machine learning and computer vision to gain a human-centric understanding of what is happening in a vehicle.

“As we watched the DMS category evolve into Interior Sensing, monitoring the whole cabin, we quickly recognised Affectiva as a major player to watch,” said Smart Eye founder and CEO, Martin Krantz.

“Affectiva’s pioneering work in establishing the field of Emotion AI has served as a powerful platform for bringing this technology to market at scale. At the end of the day, this is about saving lives and bridging the gap between humans and machines.”

In addition to strengthening Smart Eye’s automotive offering, Affectiva brings incremental revenues and profit from its Media Analytics business. Used by 70% of the world’s largest advertisers, Affectiva’s enterprise-grade technology analyses consumers’ emotional reactions to brand content and experiences.

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By GlobalData

This technology has synergies with Smart Eye’s Research Instruments solutions, which provide research organisations with high-fidelity eye tracking systems for human factors research.

The integration of Affectiva’s AI with Smart Eye’s eye tracking systems can provide human factors researchers and marketers with a more holistic view of people’s behaviour. Combined, the two companies will capitalise on the continued growth of behavioural technologies within the marketing and research industries, which has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a [n] opportunity for us to join Smart Eye in bringing to market advanced AI with more comprehensive capabilities than either of us could provide alone,” added Affectiva co-founder and CEO, Rana el Kaliouby.

“Not only are our technologies very complementary, so are our values, our teams, our culture and perhaps most importantly, our vision for the future. We share a conviction the AI we are building now will one day become ubiquitous.”

Smart Eye is headquartered in Gothenburg with offices in Detroit, Tokyo, Chongqing and soon, Germany.