Pearl Automation, the company led by former Apple engineers that made its debut last summer with an iPhone-linked automotive backup camera, is closing shop, according to a report Monday from Axios.
The company was founded in 2014 by three former Apple engineers: Bryson Gardner, Joseph Fisher, and Brian Sander. The trio aimed to build aftermarket automotive products that would focus on “driver awareness features.” The company raised approximately $50 million in venture capital and continued to hire employees — many from Apple — until it launched its first and only product, the RearVision backup camera in June 2016.
The RearVision was marketed as an easy-to-install backup camera system comprised of a license plate cover with two wide-angle cameras, an OBD II-based adapter that would receive the video signals from the cameras and relay them to the driver’s iPhone or Android device, and a corresponding iOS or Android app that provided a live video feed and audible and visual alerts when motion or objects were detected by the cameras.
It’s a useful device, the value of which will be recognized by anyone who drives a vehicle with a built-in backup camera. But the problem was the price. At $500 for the complete kit, it was an expensive proposition for many drivers, especially considering the increasing availability of built-in backup systems from auto manufacturers.
The market reportedly agreed, with sources telling Axios that “early product sales disappointed” and that the company had a “high burn rate” of its available cash. Several parties were reportedly interested in acquiring the startup, but the founders decided to part ways instead.
Pearl Automation has yet to officially announce any closure, and its website is still online as of the date of this article’s publication, but all of its products and accessories are listed as out of stock.