An engineer with previous work experience at Dassault Aviation and Airbus Group, Eye Lights co-founder and CEO Romain Duflot had developed the first prototype of a Bluetooth-enabled retrofit HUD module for motorcycle helmets in 2015, just before graduating together with co-founder and CTO Thomas De Saintignon from ICAM Toulouse.
In 2017, the company sold over one million euros’ worth of its first commercial product, the Moto Display. Then in 2018, the startup raised a total of 3 million euros to expand its market to the automotive sector with a car HUD design. Since then, it delivered over 250,000 euros worth of retrofit car HUDs with bright 8” HD projection onto the windshield and gesture control. The units were initially offered through crowdfunding in 2019.
In its latest kickstarter campaign (March 2020), the company got the backing from a crowd of 2,720 eager motorbikers for its EyeRide head-up display, an improved version of Moto Display. Weighing 70 grams, the new version integrates a 3000 nits bright full colour OLED display from Sony, meaning true blacks and no ghosting effects across the display’s 24º field of view, with a virtual image 2m away.
So what’s next at the company and aren’t other HUD manufacturers taking note? eeNews Europe asked.
Duflot admits that the automotive HUD market is already crowded, but he is keen to highlight that most innovations in this market have only been incremental, and always too costly. “Our value proposition is to offer technical solutions that are ten times smaller in volume than incumbent offers, while being much brighter at 5000 nits and more cost effective.
“Even as a small company we control all the product design steps from in-mould optoelectronics to the electronic front-end, which makes us very agile, we can quickly iterate prototypes based on customer feedback to provide the best technological fit. The reason why we succeed is that we bring the right technology for the right use case and at a good price point” Duflot said.
“Today’s HUD solutions tend to throw overly complex and costly technology at the automotive market without properly addressing actual use cases. Most of them don’t use Google Maps or Waze, which are the predominant car navigation apps consumers are used to on their smartphone”, the CEO observes as an example of a market misfit.