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The first capture unicorn

There is big news in the cognitive capture market: we spotted the first capture unicorn in the wild, and (spoiler alert) it’s not an AI-powered intelligent document processing (IDP) startup. In fact, one is hard-pressed to find “AI” or “machine learning” anywhere in this company’s marketing message.

Billing itself as “the global leader in smart capture at the edge”, Scandit just completed a $150 million Series D round that values the Swiss company at over $1 billion. It has raised almost $300 million to date, which as far as we can tell is more than double the investment raised by any other capture software or hardware business.

Founded in 2009, Scandit disrupted the handheld barcode scanner industry by enabling off-the-shelf smartphones to do the same thing, plus much more. It used computer vision to solve the difficult problem of using smartphone cameras – which were not designed as data capture scanners – to reliably capture barcode data. 

This focus has paid off handsomely since there are so many applications for barcode scanning across many industries. Scandit grew to over 1,700 customers and created partnerships with Salesforce, global retailers, logistics companies, and the UK’s National Health Service, among others.

Now with money to burn and the new normal of remote work driving demand, Scandit looks poised to expand the use of its computer vision technology far beyond its roots of replacing a handheld scanner. The company said it will use some of the proceeds to fund R&D work on AI / Machine Learning capabilities and move its computer vision offerings further into wearables and robots.

Data capture is a potential killer app for wearables such as smart glasses, freeing up two hands while capturing data from anything and everything of interest to Google, Meta, Amazon, and all the other data vacuuming companies. Scandit has plans to provide more data services from data capture and is already in the OCR business, extracting unstructured text from anything one can capture with a smartphone camera. Augmented reality (AR) is also dependent on situational data taken from the surrounding physical environment, and Scandit has a potential play in enabling AR data capture.

Not bad for a company that built its reputation around the humble barcode. We look forward to tracking Scandit’s progress as it expands beyond its base. 

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