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Hillcrest Labs rings up $25M D round

January 7th, 2008

ROCKVILLE, MD—Hillcrest Labs rings in the New Year with a $25 million D round led by AllicanceBernstein with previous investors New Enterprise Associates, Columbia Capital, and Grotech Captal participating. The company plans to expand its technology—which allows a user to make entertainment choices by pointing at a graphic menu—to a range of devices.

Founded in 2001, the company has raised a total of $50 million in venture backing, a spokesperson tells TechJournal South.

Hillcrest Labs’ patented Freespace motion control technology senses motion in three dimensions and precisely translates human motions into on–screen cursor movement. When embedded in a handheld input device, Freespace allows consumers to simply point and click to navigate content and application choices on televisions, set–top boxes, PCs and a range of other digital media devices. Freespace can also be adapted for use in game controllers.

“Hillcrest Labs has created an entirely new and potentially game-changing platform for television and other forms of home entertainment,” said Jamie Kiggen, Senior Vice President of AllianceBernstein.

“By combining pointing with a graphical, ‘zoomable’ interface, their technology holds the promise to fundamentally alter how consumers interact with their TV and digital media.”

The Loop: one ring to replace many remotes

“Competition is intensifying, not just between traditional television service providers — like cable operators, telcos and satellite companies—but also with consumer electronics manufacturers planning to make ‘over-the-top’ plays in home entertainment,” said Peter Barris, managing general partner of NEA Associates.

“All of these companies face the same issue — how to enable consumers to easily navigate the thousands of content options that are packaged with their service offerings. Hillcrest solves this problem uniquely and will create significant value for its customers.”

“We now have multiple deals with major companies that plan to bring our technology to market in the near future,” said Dan Simpkins, founder and CEO of Hillcrest Labs. “We aim to bring a new ‘point-and-click’ paradigm to the television and beyond.”

Hillcrest sells an application creation platform called HoME, which enables consumer electronics
manufacturers and service providers to create unique interactive digital media products for TV and other digital media devices.

Applications made with HoME are controlled by pointing and provide consumers an intuitive way to browse, discover, and interact with large volumes of digital media. It can be used in a wide range of consumer devices including remote controls, PC mice, and game controllers.

The first hardware implementation of Hillcrest’s Freespace motion control technology is The Loop. The Loop is a ring-shaped device With two buttons and a scroll wheel, The Loop is ideally suited to the operation of media devices in the living room. Users can lean back, put their feet up, and easily control any on–screen function.

The company is demonstrating its product this week at the Consumer Electronics Show.

Hillcrest Labs’ software has been honored numerous times including the CES Innovations Award 2006, Gartner’s Cool Vendors for 2006, and Popular Mechanics Editor’s Choice Award 2007.

On the Web: www.hillcrestlabs.com

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