Larnabel Ventures, a company founded by Russian billionaire retail magnate Said Gutseriev, and VP Capital, a venture fund backed by Belarusian businessman Viktor Prokopenya, have teamed up to invest $7mn in Banuba, reports East-West Digital News (EWDN).
Born in Belarus but now registered in Hong Kong and operating internationally, this startup develops innovative AI technologies and AR apps. Users are provided with an experience, which Wired found “way more sophisticated than Snapchat’s or Facebook’s selfie filters.” One of Banuba’s products is the ‘Face AR’ software development kit (SDK) for mobile app developers, which provides end users with sophisticated face filtering, beautification, avatar and other 3D features.
The Banuba technology is already being used in Facemetrix, notes TechCrunch — an app that can “track a child’s eyes to ascertain whether they are reading something on a phone or tablet or not.” Not only can users to ‘track’ a person’s gaze, they can also “control a smartphone’s function with a gaze.” Banuba claims to have 31 patent applications in the USA, EU and Australia. Its team of nearly 100 employees is located essentially in Minsk, the capital of Belarus.
This investment comes as part of an ambitious global AI investment program launched by VP Capital and Larnabel two years ago. The two funds already invested $5mn in Banuba in February 2017, $25mn in Capital.com in July 2017, and $2mn in Read2play in June 2018.