ProGlove, a startup developing wireless gloves with built-in barcode scanners and gesture-sensing features, this morning announced that it’s secured an investment from global growth equity investor Summit Partners. The capital infusion brings the Munich, Germany-based startup’s total raised to roughly $60 million, following $6.7 million and $2.2 million rounds in April 2018 and May 2016, respectively.
CEO Andreas Koenig said the proceeds will fuel the expansion of ProGlove’s international footprint. “Organizations seeking to maintain a competitive edge in the era of Industry 4.0 must rethink and reinvent the way in which humans and machines interact. Wearable devices acknowledge the importance of enabling a smarter, more effective worker in the industrial IoT environment,” he said in a statement. “Industrial wearables define the future of assembly, production and logistics processes. Our smart wearables are designed to function as a natural extension of the workers’ tools, strengthening the role of the human in today’s automated world.”
ProGlove got its start in 2014 with a simple concept: a robust glove designed to improve the efficiency of hands-free scanning across the manufacturing, logistics, transportation, and ecommerce segments. After earning recognition in Intel’s 2014 Make it Wearable challenge and commercializing its scanner glove in 2016, it hired on dozens of employees and attracted customers like Audi, BMW, Bosch, Daimler, DHL, and Lufthansa Technik. ProGlove says that today, it counts 136 people among its workforces in Munich and Chicago, and over 500 brands among its client base.
“Our goal is to recognize and enable the value of human involvement in today’s increasingly automated industrial environment,” said ProGlove cofounder and vice president Thomas Kirchner. “We’re excited to work with Summit to expand our global reach and bring the industrial IoT to the human workforce on an international scale.”
ProGlove customers have their choice in glove, from a standard glove for picking, assembly, packing, and staging tasks to gloves with palm and index trigger that can be worn with a free hand or in combination with different glove types. All can be customized via a config tool that’s optimized for smartphones and tablets, and they transmit data over a dedicated radio connection that can be freely selected from 70 channels.
ProGlove’s secret sauce is the Mark 2, a compact module that fastens to the back of its gloves and pairs with tablets, smartwatches, wearables, and other devices over Bluetooth Low Energy from up to 150 centimeters away. It provides feedback in the form of adjustable acoustic signals, vibration, and LEDs on the back of the hand, and it lasts for up to 15 hours on a charge.
The Mark 2 slots into a dedicated station to rejuice. As for the data it collects from scanned barcodes, it’s fed into an access point, which in turn funnels it to a PC, IPS, terminal, or tablet via USB or RS232 cable.
ProGlove says its scanner unit can reduce scanning time by up to 4 seconds per scan, representing an improvement in scanning efficiency of as much as 50%. Furthermore, it claims productivity is further improved by its complementary software solutions, which give glove wearers feedback on tasks performed to cut down on mistakes, improve quality, and provide data for future decisions.
“At Summit, we focus on partnering with companies that have the team, technology and vision to define the categories in which they operate,” said Summit Partners managing director Dr. Matthias Allgaier. “We believe ProGlove’s customer-centric approach to product design presents a significant opportunity to empower the human worker while increasing workplace efficiency.”
ProGlove’s latest funding round comes shortly after SoftBank Group chief operating officer Marcelo Claure said that a trillion connected devices on the internet of things will generate $11 trillion in value by 2025.