Edinburgh-based tech start-up IMERAI has completed an investment round led by Apollo Informal Investments to support the development of a new echolocation technology.

Founded in 2018 by Alex Bowen following after graduation from Heriot-Watt University, the firm’s sensors mimic the way bats use reflections of sound to build an image of an environment and navigate during flight.

The readings from the sensor are similar to those of video cameras, but do not capture identifiable facial features, which the firm said provides a new opportunity for firms focused on maintaining user privacy.

Using Micro-Electro-Mechanical System (MEMS) microphones, IMERAI’s technology is designed to allow AI to understand the physical world.

Applications are being built for consumer electronics, security, building occupancy, automotive, and defence markets.

The undisclosed investment will be used to further the design of the sensor by working with end-users and manufacturers and by expanding the engineering team from its base at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, creating five new positions over the course of the next year.

Founder and CEO Alex Bowen said: “We’re tremendously excited to get started with building out our team to deliver sensor development kits to our end-users and manufacturing partners. Edinburgh is one of the best places in the UK for new tech hardware and IP companies to start out.

“There is a wealth of talent and expertise in the sensors and MEMS space at our doorstep and we are definitely going to make the most of it.”

Michiel Smith, Gatekeeper at Apollo Informal Investments added: “Apollo is always on the lookout for innovative start-ups that are looking for funding to create early traction with customers and get them ready for follow up rounds. IMERAI perfectly fitted this bill and we are excited to join Alex on his journey”