R7 Invests in Airy3D to Take Photos Further

May 15, 2017

Want to hear something mind-blowing? Every hour 125 million photos are taken with smartphones. That's more than one trillion moments captured last year. Airy3D, a Montreal-based startup, has developed the world’s first passive single sensor solution for 3D computer vision. While that may be a mouthful, it’s actually a pretty important breakthrough that will impact just about anyone with a camera, including the iPhone or Android you’re using right now.

Currently, when you take a picture with your smartphone, that picture is flat...meaning there’s no depth. For example, if you took a picture of a person in front of a house, the camera doesn’t know if the person is actually in front of the house, part of the house, or behind the house. To that camera, it’s all one image with nothing independent within it.

Now, you know those cool blurred-out photos people are taking these days with their iPhone 7 Plus? That’s due to a clever way Apple developed for their camera to figure out that the person is in front of the house. They do that with the addition of a second camera that is on a tiny angle. Combined, their dual cameras work together with some slick math to determine that boat is behind the person, which then gets blurred out. That blur is what makes the image feel like it has depth. While this is a cool trick, it’s expensive and not solving the root of the problem; how to have depth with only one camera.

Enter Airy3D. Based on years of research from Cornell University, the team at Airy3D built a depth solution that requires no active lighting system. In other words, that means they’ve eliminated the need for dual cameras and other extra components entirely. Better...it’s very inexpensive and can be used on any camera, including smartphones.

We believe people are going to continue taking more and more photos everyday. And with Airy3D, your future smartphone will soon be able to take pictures unlike anything you’ve seen before.

We invested in Airy3D’s heavily over-committed seed round, which we co-led with CRCM Ventures. You can read more about it here.

We’re proud to be part of Airy3D and welcome them to our portfolio.