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Former Apple employees reveal iPhone-connected aftermarket car backup camera

Bryson Gardner, Joseph Fisher and Brian Sander think that cars should be upgraded like software. That's why the three ex-Apple employees founded Pearl Automation Inc., a company that announced a new iPhone-connected backup camera this week.

After launching in 2014 with Gardner as CEO, Fisher as vice president of Engineering and Sander as COO, Pearl has just announced its first product: RearVision, a backup camera and alert system. It will ship in September priced at $499.99.

"We met at Apple in the iPod group in 2005," Gardner, the Pearl CEO, told AppleInsider in an exclusive interview on Tuesday. "I moved on to manage iPhone development. In 2013 we left Apple. We mapped out what we wanted to do. At Apple we liked Apple's ability to take core technologies and deliver them to consumers, and that's what we're doing now."

Pearl's RearVision is a system is built around dual high-definition cameras in a license-plate frame powered by solar energy. A plug-in car adapter goes into a car's on-board diagnostic port. Once paired with the Pearl App, which can work with both PearliOS or Android, the cameras wirelessly stream images to the phone mounted on the dashboard. No additional screen is required.

The software can analyze video streams to warn of obstacles or other cars and provides audible warnings and visual alerts to the driver.

Images can be delivered in portrait or landscape and a tap-to-pan feature allows drivers to scan the view. It also works at night.

The Pearl RearVision will also receive software updates to provide performance improvements and new features.

Joseph Fisher, Bryson Gardner and Brian Sander

A key feature of the product is its ease of installation. The license frame installs with only two screws, the adapter plugs into the dashboard and the mount allows placement of a smart phone.

The system retails for $499.99 and Pearl is taking pre-orders through its website,

Gardner noted that of the 1.2 billion vehicles worldwide and 260 million in the United States, only about 7 percent are new each year.

"So, 90 percent of the cars on the road are old," he said.

When automobile companies introduce new features, they do so in the new models. Pearl is trying to provide new features for existing models and sees a massive market for its products.

Pearl has been flying under the radar since its 2014 launch. It has over 70 employees, many of them Apple veterans. It has received $50 million in funding in two rounds from Accel, Shasta Ventures, Venrock and Wellcome Trust. New product launches are planned, although Gardner would not reveal their nature.