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Finnish AR pioneer Basemark secures €22M to make the world’s roads safer for everyone

The Basemark team
Image credit: Basemark

Basemark, a Helsinki-based provider of AR software for automotive applications, has announced a €22 million Series B investment round. Led by EFF partners, the round was a mix of equity, grants, and loans, and included participation from Finnish Industry Investment (Tesi), Constructor Capital, Business Finland, the European Innovation Council, and several private investors.

Basemark will use the investment to deepen its links with European and American OEMs, while continuing its international expansion into Japan, China, and South Korea. Tero Sarkkinen, Founder and CEO of Basemark, told TFN a little about their company and what their product means for driving and road safety.

Accelerating the improving safety on our roads

Driving has become safer over time. In the UK, for example, road fatalities peaked in 1966, since then, despite vehicle-ownership nearly doubling, the numbers killed have dropped by nearly three-quarters. However, it remains a major issue. The World Health Organisation estimates around 1.19 million people were killed on the world’s roads in 2023.

Basemark’s product, Rocksolid AR, aims to help keep reducing that number by enabling OEMs to create intuitive feedback to drivers through heads-up displays (HUDs) and other in-car displays.

HUDs, however, offer the biggest improvement in road safety, and the driving experience, by projecting relevant information on to the windscreen, allowing drivers to get guidance and alerts while keeping their eyes on the road. That’s why Basemark’s product is intended to make it easy for OEMs to develop their own, unique, implementations of AR.

And many drivers are already benefiting from Basemark’s AR. BMW’s new iX AR applications were developed with contributions from Basemark, just one of the OEMs serving customers in the USA, Germany, France, Italy, and the UK with whom Basemark are working.

Capturing a market by changing opinions

The HUD market was valued at $1.43 billion in 2023, and is expected to grow a further $16 billion by 2032 as the technology becomes more widespread and essential for autonomous vehicles.

Basemark’s product sets itself apart from the competition in several ways. The first is that, rather than just offering software or development services, Rocksolid AR offers OEMs a software development kit, enabling them to create bespoke AR applications.

It makes real innovation possible. “Rocksolid AR is capable of rendering AR graphics based on any sensor input,” says Sarkkinen. It means that it can receive, and act on, a range of inputs to provide nuanced feedback to the driver. “Therefore, only the OEMs’ imagination is the limit on what types of visualisations and warnings they want to implement,” he continued.

An additional benefit is Rocksolid AR’s ability to precisely match the environment, ensuring that the HUD closely matches with the driver’s view. This had previously been a problem for HUDs. GPS is only accurate to around six metres, meaning that GPS-only HUDs showed an approximation. But for some, it had physical effects, too. The disconnect between the HUD and real life could even cause motion sickness!

Basemark solves all this with built-in algorithms to combat the latency and a multi-sensor approach to improve accuracy. “Our computer vision algorithms take the GPS location as the starting point and identifies, for example, a Point of Interest,” Sarkkinen explains. “We then identify the road ground plane, lanes, crossings, buildings, other cars, and objects and anchor the AR asset where it is located in the real world.”

It means a smooth display that matches exactly what the driver’s eyes see.

“In the future, as autonomous cars become the norm, we expect a significant decrease in the total number of vehicles on the road, with the majority being electric. This shift will result in a substantial reduction of emissions,” said Remy de Tonnac, Senior Partner at ETF Partners. “Augmented reality is key to this transformation, serving as an integral component of the Software Defined Vehicle megatrend that is guiding the automotive industry toward full autonomy. Basemark is at the forefront of the AR/VR HUD technology revolution, and they are perfectly positioned to help OEMs craft safer, more sustainable, and more enjoyable driving experiences for all.”

Creating practical solutions

The platform, Basemark says, will allow OEMs to create their own lightweight AR applications that fit on low-end chips, powering multiple displays. Alongside their funding announcement, they are offering the first public demonstration of the platform at Embedded World 2024 in Nuremberg, Germany, until 11th April.

They are also in advanced talks with a number of OEMs, so expect that Rocksolid AR-powered HUDs and in-car displays will soon be seen across a range of marques. They are also confident that their product will help continue the improvement in car safety and the adoption of autonomous vehicles.

“According to research, people have low trust towards automated driving,” Sarkkinen told TFN. “AR is identified as the catalyst to increase this trust between people and the car, as it clearly shows to the driver what the car ‘sees’ and ‘thinks’. We see Rocksolid AR as the catalyst toward mass adoption of autonomous driving.”

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