Clay AIR Grows by Partnering With Qualcomm

By Bruce Harpham Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Thomas Amilien, CEO of Clay AIR.

Hand tracking company Clay AIR has grown to $100,000 in monthly revenue. Founded in France in 2016, the business is currently funded by individual investors. To fuel additional expansion, the tech company is currently working on its Series A funding round. Furthermore, Clay AIR has offices in Los Angeles, France, and Shanghai.

Qualcomm Partnership Is a Key Advantage

As a newer tech company, Clay AIR has secured a critical partnership with Qualcomm to grow. “Qualcomm chose to partner with our company as we specialize in hand tracking and gesture recognition. Our partnership enables us to train our machine learning models on their reference designs,” Charlotte Mallo, Head of Marketing at Clay AIR, told Startup Savant in an interview.

Qualcomm is a significant tech business known for producing technology components for mobile devices, laptops, cars, and virtual reality uses. The hardware company earned a net income of $5.1 billion in 2020, up from $4.3 billion in 2019.

The Tech Company Focuses on Business Customers

As a B2B company, Clay AIR is focused on selling to other business users. “Our customers include Lenovo, Thales, and Bose,” said Mallo. The company develops custom value-based pricing for each business deal depending on a few factors like the length of the integration work and other software involved.

Lenovo, a global computer company known for the Thinkpad laptop brand, uses Clay AIR technology in the ThinkReality A6 augmented reality headset. Based on the Android Oreo platform, the A6 product uses a Qualcomm processor and Intel VPU (vision processing unit. The Lenovo product is much lighter, only 380g (0.83 pounds), than other businesses’ augmented reality headsets. The ThinkReality A6 was launched in 2019 to compete against other business headsets like the Microsoft HoloLens 2 device.

Hand Tracking Technology Is Growing in Popularity

The Hand and gesture tracking tech business has recently expanded in popularity. “From a user perspective, hand tracking is becoming a must-have feature since Oculus Quest 2 sold over a million units in Q4,” Mallo commented during the interview.

The Oculus Quest 2 is a virtual reality headset that includes hand gesture hardware. The headset is compatible with multiple games such as Star Wars: Tales from The Galaxy's Edge and The Climb 2. In 2020, Quest-related monthly revenue increased from less than $8 million to more than $12 million per month, according to Road to VR data.

While Oculus is a leader in the market, other tech companies are active in the VR headset business. Valve Index has been recognized as the best VR headset for gaming by Digital Trends. MergeVR, in contrast, is a low price (priced under $100 at Amazon and elsewhere) device compatible with the iPhone.

Gesture Tracking Expands Beyond Entertainment

Gesture and hand tracking technology products are currently most common in video games and types of entertainment. However, that is not the only market. For example, gesture processing technology could be used to help people communicate by sign language. Newsweek estimated that there are one million people who know American Sign Language (ASL) as of 2019. If that use case takes off, it may pose a threat to sign language interpreters.

In business, training is a crucial application for this type of technology. According to Oculus, Johnson & Johnson achieved a 233% performance increase by using VR training.

About the Author


Headshot of Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is an author and marketing consultant based in Canada. His first book, "Project Managers At Work," shared real-world success lessons from NASA, Google, and other organizations. His articles have been published in CIO.com, InfoWorld, Canadian Business, and other organizations. Visit BruceHarpham.com for articles, interviews with tech leaders, and updates on future books.

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