Three guys who quit Apple want into your car.
Their startup's first product, RearVision, is a backup camera meant to be self-installed in cars not equipped with the video technology that helps drivers avoid running over children, pets, bicycles and anything else behind a backward-moving car.
It works this way: You install a license plate frame equipped with two tiny high-definition cameras behind the car. You plug an adapter into the car's on-board diagnostics port. You mount your smartphone to the dash, and up comes a 180-degree view of anything behind your car, via Bluetooth or wifi.
After-market rear vision cameras are already on the market, but most require single-purpose screens and take time and expertise to install.
It costs $500.
Bryson Gardner, chief executive of the Silicon Valley company, Pearl Automation, believes that is not a high price to pay for such safety technology, given that buying a new car already equipped with manufacturer-installed rear vision would cost an average of $34,000. "They're able to extend the usefulness of their current car," he said.
Gardner and co-founders Joseph Fisher and Brian Sander worked on Apple's iPod team for several years before leaving the company in 2013. Gardner also worked on the iPhone.
He said the company was founded on the idea that people want more "driver awareness" technology in their automobiles, but don't necessarily want or can't always afford a new car to get it.
It takes a long time for auto technology to filter to the masses, he noted, because cars are expensive and most people don't swap them out like they'd switch to a new iPhone. Gardner is counting on big demand for cheaper, quick-install versions of new-car technologies.
To grow, the company will need fresh products to follow the RearVision as older cars die off. Federal regulations require that all cars be equipped with backup cameras starting in 2018. Pearl Automation has other products in the works, Gardner said.
The company is now taking advance orders and expects to start shipping in September.