Former Apple employees reveal iPhone-connected aftermarket car backup camera

Posted:
in iPhone edited June 2016
Bryson Gardner, Joseph Fisher and Brian Sander think that cars should be upgraded like software. That's why the three ex-Apple employees founded Pearl Automation Inc., a company that announced a new iPhone-connected backup camera this week.




After launching in 2014 with Gardner as CEO, Fisher as vice president of Engineering and Sander as COO, Pearl has just announced its first product: RearVision, a backup camera and alert system. It will ship in September priced at $499.99.

"We met at Apple in the iPod group in 2005," Gardner, the Pearl CEO, told AppleInsider in an exclusive interview on Tuesday. "I moved on to manage iPhone development. In 2013 we left Apple. We mapped out what we wanted to do. At Apple we liked Apple's ability to take core technologies and deliver them to consumers, and that's what we're doing now."

Pearl's RearVision is a system is built around dual high-definition cameras in a license-plate frame powered by solar energy. A plug-in car adapter goes into a car's on-board diagnostic port. Once paired with the Pearl App, which can work with both PearliOS or Android, the cameras wirelessly stream images to the phone mounted on the dashboard. No additional screen is required.



The software can analyze video streams to warn of obstacles or other cars and provides audible warnings and visual alerts to the driver.

Images can be delivered in portrait or landscape and a tap-to-pan feature allows drivers to scan the view. It also works at night.

The Pearl RearVision will also receive software updates to provide performance improvements and new features.


Joseph Fisher, Bryson Gardner and Brian Sander


A key feature of the product is its ease of installation. The license frame installs with only two screws, the adapter plugs into the dashboard and the mount allows placement of a smart phone.

The system retails for $499.99 and Pearl is taking pre-orders through its website, Pearlauto.com.

Gardner noted that of the 1.2 billion vehicles worldwide and 260 million in the United States, only about 7 percent are new each year.

"So, 90 percent of the cars on the road are old," he said.

When automobile companies introduce new features, they do so in the new models. Pearl is trying to provide new features for existing models and sees a massive market for its products.

Pearl has been flying under the radar since its 2014 launch. It has over 70 employees, many of them Apple veterans. It has received $50 million in funding in two rounds from Accel, Shasta Ventures, Venrock and Wellcome Trust. New product launches are planned, although Gardner would not reveal their nature.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 32
    Great idea...but $499 is too steep for me.  :|
    welshdogdjkfishericoco3jony0lollivernolamacguypulseimagesnetmagejesusfreak
  • Reply 2 of 32
    userblahuserblah Posts: 19member
    I live in Chicago. How quickly will this be stolen?
    mac_dogvolcanphone-ui-guylkruppbdkennedy1002SpamSandwichjony0lolliverpulseimages
  • Reply 3 of 32
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,694member
    I like the idea here. Execution seems very well thought out.  Only thing I wonder about is theft. 

    I need one for my 15 year old white, windowless van. ;)

  • Reply 4 of 32
    mac_dogmac_dog Posts: 703member
    userblah said:
    I live in Chicago. How quickly will this be stolen?
    my first thought. even before getting into the tech behind it. especially for that price.
  • Reply 5 of 32
    userblahuserblah Posts: 19member
    mac_dog said:
    userblah said:
    I live in Chicago. How quickly will this be stolen?
    my first thought. even before getting into the tech behind it. especially for that price.
    The video on their website makes it seem like it is 1 STANDARD screw. They couldn't make it a unique screw that not everyone and their mother on the street has a screwdriver for?
    lollivernolamacguypulseimages
  • Reply 6 of 32
    djkfisherdjkfisher Posts: 115member
    Sounds good except $499 is a lot of money and not being part of the vehicle is a theft problem in a lot of areas.
    lolliver
  • Reply 7 of 32
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,926member
    Only a little more than a professionally installed, good quality back-up camera system. The solar idea is great since it only needs to activate when the car is in reverse, making installation a snap. I would recommend they offer a nondescript frame to lessen the risk of it becoming a theft target.
  • Reply 8 of 32
    birkobirko Posts: 60member
    Or you could just learn to drive and you wouldn't need a camera or things that go beep when you get close to hitting something.
    pulseimages
  • Reply 9 of 32
    sector7gsector7g Posts: 155member
    This is cool, but most people who do not already have a backup camera built in will probably not be able to justify 500 dollars to add one on their car.
    jonlbdkennedy1002lolliverxzunolamacguynetmagexamax
  • Reply 10 of 32
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,791member
    ... through its website, Pearlauto.com.
    Might want to fix that link in the article. There is a space in the URL.
    edited June 2016 techno
  • Reply 11 of 32
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,791member

    userblah said:
    I live in Chicago. How quickly will this be stolen?
    The website says it locks securely on to the license plate but doesn't offer any details.
  • Reply 12 of 32
    People that can afford a $500 backup camera already bought a car that has one.
    jonllolliverxamax
  • Reply 13 of 32
    phone-ui-guyphone-ui-guy Posts: 1,018member
    volcan said:

    userblah said:
    I live in Chicago. How quickly will this be stolen?
    The website says it locks securely on to the license plate but doesn't offer any details.

    Watch this video. Looks like you put one screw in with some sort of hex driver or something. So yeah, this thing will have serious theft issues.

    https://vimeo.com/169589069
    edited June 2016
  • Reply 14 of 32
    volcan said:

    userblah said:
    I live in Chicago. How quickly will this be stolen?
    The website says it locks securely on to the license plate but doesn't offer any details.
    We have more information about theft deterrence on our website: https://support.pearlauto.com/hc/en-us/articles/220154127-Is-Pearl-RearVision-theft-resistant-
    thanks!
    argonaut
  • Reply 15 of 32
    phone-ui-guyphone-ui-guy Posts: 1,018member
    Ok, it is a secure Hex driver with the dimple in the middle. Have a secure bit set that I got at Fry's for $15 that can do that. 

    Here is an image from that video.


  • Reply 16 of 32
    mtbnutmtbnut Posts: 195member
    Hmmm, seems that the market for this will only shrink, as the NHTSA is going to make backup cameras mandatory starting in 2018. That being said, my 1997 4Runner would benefit from this now. 
  • Reply 17 of 32
    michael_cmichael_c Posts: 164member
    userblah said:
    mac_dog said:
    my first thought. even before getting into the tech behind it. especially for that price.
    The video on their website makes it seem like it is 1 STANDARD screw. They couldn't make it a unique screw that not everyone and their mother on the street has a screwdriver for?
    I'd be surprised if they hadn't gone with tamper proof screws.  Can't tell from the video, but if you zoom in on the perspective picture of the license plate frame they display on their website you can see the center pin of a tamper proof pin.  Including a screwdriver to install them would be easy and not out of the question for the price point.
  • Reply 18 of 32
    rwesrwes Posts: 171member
    People that can afford a $500 backup camera already bought a car that has one.
    Made me actually lol. Like the idea, but agree with your comment more. And isn't it going to be a requirement *soon* on all vehicles being sold (In the US)? Reference 1Reference 2

    For a lot of people who don't replace their cars that frequently, chances are they're not going to spend $500 on this and they can't be forced to.
    edited June 2016 urchin11
  • Reply 19 of 32
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,791member
    saketvora said:
    We have more information about theft deterrence on our website: https://support.pearlauto.com/hc/en-us/articles/220154127-Is-Pearl-RearVision-theft-resistant-
    thanks!
    Thanks for the link. Probably should buy an alarm system while you are at it, because once the thieves become aware of the pairing and special screw, they'll have more of an incentive to break some glass to get into the car to find the special key and the inside component so they can steal the entire product.  
  • Reply 20 of 32
    urchin11urchin11 Posts: 17member
    Nice idea, like some have said way too pricey, $200 top (in my option).  Additionally the diagnostic port, is seeing a lot of demand the days, insurance companies have monitoring devices that use these, plus remote access devices.
    xzunetmage
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