Aerial Technologies Inc., a Montreal-based artificial intelligence company and recent graduate of TandemLaunch, has concluded a $2.25 million funding round co-led by Fonds Innovexport and successful entrepreneur and investor Jean-François Grenon.
Strategic investors include Kibo Ventures, a Spanish-based VC firm which has Grupo Telefónica as one of the main investors in the fund and Wayra, part of Telefónica Open Future network, and Quebecor Group, a leading Canadian integrated communications company. Angel investors affiliated to TandemLaunch also joined the round.
“As part of the budget we already have some new hires that have accepted their offers and we’re going to be growing the team in Montreal,” David Grant, CEO of Aerial told MTLinTECH. “We’re moving into our own office suites out of the incubated environment we’ve been in, so we’ll be an operational company. So our goals are pretty tight and we’re just looking to operationalize the technology for deployment to a couple of customers.”
Founded in 2015, Aerial uses existing Wi-Fi signals and cloud-based machine learning AI to detect presence and motion. Aerial processes the disruption of pre-existing Wi-Fi signals by people and pets and adds context and meaning to motion, allowing the recognition of presence, motion, activity and identity. Conceived by Michel Allegue, CTO, based on IP that originated at McGill University, Rutgers University and Steven’s Institute of Technology, the software can be embedded in virtually any Wi-Fi network equipment or device and does not require wearables or additional sensors to work.
“Videotron sees a vast potential for Aerial’s technology as it opens the door to a multitude of promising services and applications for both our residential and business customers,” said Serge Legris, Vice President & Chief Technology Planning Office of Videotron. “We are also looking to test different opportunities in our Open-air Laboratory for Smart Living. ”
“Aerial has a very strong team supported by TandemLaunch, a world-class incubator. Considering the traction they already have in the market, we believe they will be successful. Innovexport definitely made that investment with the objective to participate in future rounds to foster Aerial’s growth,” said Serge Lavergne, Vice-President Investment at Innovexport.
“I really liked the experience with TandemLaunch,” said Grant. “I’ve had experience with other incubators and accelerators, and a lot of them are just opportunistic drivers. You know, get a lot of people and throw a little bit of money and see who survives. I get a very different feel from Tandem, and that is that each of the principals in Tandem really take a heart into the companies that they’re doing and really work with them. So it’s a very nurturing model, I think.”
Early Smart Motion applications provided through Aerial’s business partners will include Presence Awareness and Motion Detection, Home Intrusion Detection, Smart HVAC energy optimization, healthcare and elderly care monitory services, and intelligent motion awareness for a variety of smart home devices. And while home security may be the logical first market for Aerial’s technology, it’s the ramifications for healthcare and elderly care that attracted Grant to the company.
“What excites me about it, or why I got involved, is really healthcare. If your home knows you’re home, then it can do so much. It can turn off the power when you’re not there, it can bring the temperature control to the level you like, it can optimize energy. But when you turn to elderly care, it can help you prevent catastrophic injuries and even identify illness or places where people are having a tough time getting around. So that’s where I think there’s some real opportunity. And you don’t even have to do anything because the wifi signal is already there, you’re disrupting it like a radar.”
Aerial has offices in Montreal, the US, and Europe, and the technology, already in pilot with several large Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Multi Service Operators (MSOs), will be deployed into existing equipment offered through these service providers.