Tag Archives: startups

Samsung’s NEON digital avatars shouted as artificial humans

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The fact that Samsung will appear with its new project at CES 2020 has been loud for a long time. Everyone was wondering what artificial humans could be. And one thing is certain. After all the media noise around the project, everyone expected something completely different. Especially after prematurely disclosed material, which can be watched below.

 

What exactly is this project about?

NEON is the idea of Samsung researcher Pranav Mistry. The project emerged out of STAR Labs – Samsung Technology and Advanced Research Labs – and is funded by Samsung, but it’s not actually a Samsung company.

The NEON project is realistic human avatars that are computationally generated and can interact with people in real-time. At this point, each NEON is created from footage of an actual person that is fed into a machine-learning model. A Neon is meant to mimic real human appearance and emotions with its own personality and aptitude to behave like humans. Avatars can also remember and learn.

According to Pranav Mistry, NEON isn’t meant to replace Samsung’s digital assistant Bixby. What is more, it won’t be implemented in Samsung products and NEON operates independently.

 

Examples of the NEON’s application

Each NEON avatar can be customized for different tasks and is able to respond to queries with the latency of less than a few milliseconds. They’re not intended to be just visual skins for AI assistants but put to more varying uses instead. If we are to believe STAR Labs CEO Pranav Mistry, in the near future everyone will be able to license or subscribe to a NEON. The roles can be different: a service representative, a financial advisor, a healthcare provider, or a concierge. The founder also assures that NEONs will work as TV anchors, spokespeople, or movie actors. They can simply be companions and friends if people only would want it.

The first wave of Neons are modeled after real people.
Source: https://www.neon.life/

 

NEONs will work as TV anchors, spokespeople, or movie actors.
Source: https://www.neon.life/

 

What technology is behind it?

There are two main technologies on which NEON is based. The first is Core R3, which stands for reality, real-time and responsiveness. Core R3 is a kind of the graphics engine that powers avatars natural movements, expressions and speech. The second technology is Spectra, which is responsible for implementing artificial intelligence solutions. By this, the creator means intelligence, learning, emotions, and memory. Spectra is not ready for launch yet, but the company says it will present the technology later this year. At the moment it is still being developed.

Neon’s Core R3 graphics engine demonstrated at CES 2020.
Source: https://www.cnet.com/news/samsung-neon-artificial-humans-are-confusing-everyone-we-set-record-straight/

 

What about the uncanny valley?

When NEON avatars can become real comrades in everyday life, one should ask oneself whether the fact that they are so realistic is not a problem. This is specifically about the phenomenon of the uncanny valley, the scientific hypothesis telling that a robot that looks or functions like a human being causes the observers to feel unpleasant or even disgusting. When some people are wondering how STAR Labs has worked out every detail, others feel at least uncomfortable.

 

Why is everyone disappointed?

NEON is like a new kind of life, There are millions of species on our planet and we hope to add one more – this is what we heard from STAR Labs CEO Pranav Mistry before the CES 2020 presentation. It is no wonder that nobody got into awe when it turned out that NEON is just a highly detailed digital avatar. In addition, the demo presented at the show was fully controlled by people from STAR Labs. All the media hype made everyone wait impatiently for the show to finally find out that NEON still has a lot of work to do on its business.

It remains to not believe the haters because NEON avatars look really good and the potential of the project is certainly there. Thus, the final version of the STAR Labs venture has not come and we shouldn’t believe all the media reports. It will soon be clear whether a company can combine two ambitious technologies – the avatars and the AI – together.

 

Do you see a practical application of Samsung’s NEON in the near future? Would you feel comfortable if your teacher wasn’t a real person but Samsung’s NEON?

 

References:

[1] https://www.theverge.com/2020/1/7/21051390/samsung-artificial-human-neon-digital-avatar-project-star-labs

[2] https://www.theverge.com/2020/1/8/21056424/neon-ceo-artificial-humans-samsung-ai-ces-2020

[3] https://www.engadget.com/2020/01/05/samsung-neon-artificial-human-teaser/

[4] https://www.cnbc.com/2020/01/06/samsung-neon-artificial-human-announced-at-ces-2020.html

[5] https://www.cnet.com/news/samsung-neon-project-finally-unveiled-humanoid-ai-chatbot-artificial-humans/

[6] https://www.cnet.com/news/samsung-neon-heres-when-well-get-details-on-the-mysterious-ai/

[7] https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/magazines/panache/meet-neon-samsungs-new-ai-powered-robot-which-can-converse-sympathise/articleshow/73135240.cms

[8] https://www.livemint.com/companies/people/we-ll-live-in-a-world-where-machines-become-humane-pranav-mistry-11577124133419.html

[9] https://mashable.com/article/samsung-star-labs-neon-ces/?europe=true

[10] https://www.wired.co.uk/article/samsung-neon-digital-avatars

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DeepL – a translator which surpassed Google Translate

Reading Time: 4 minutes

A company doesn’t have to be a technological giant to create a product that exceeds the most popular programs of the same type. There is no doubt that in the world of automatic translation Google, Microsoft, and Facebook are the leaders. And yet it turns out that a small company DeepL has created a translator that sometimes exceeds the quality of the most popular programs of this type.

DeepL logo
Source: https://www.deepl.com/home

 

How DeepL was created?

It turns out that the key to the development of the translation service was to use the first own product, which is Linguee, a translation search engine on the Internet. The data obtained in this way became training material for artificial intelligence behind DeepL.

Interestingly, Linguee’s co-founder, Gereon Frahling, once worked for Google Research but left in 2007 to continue his new venture.

Currently, DeepL supports 42 language combinations between Polish, English, German, French, Spanish, Italian and Dutch. Already now, artificial intelligence is learning more, such as Mandarin, Japanese and Russian. There are plans to introduce an API, by means of which it will be possible to develop new products and implement the mechanism in other services.

The team has been working with machine learning for years, for tasks bordering on basic translation, but finally, they began a fervent work on a completely new system and a company called DeepL.

 

What is the advantage of DeepL?

Once again, people realized that AI is learning all the time – to the benefit of consumers, of course. The artificial intelligence behind the DeepL not only accurately recognizes words and selects translations, but is also able to understand certain linguistic nuances, perfectly copes with changed sentence patterns, which makes the result of a user’s inquiry extremely natural – as if it was written by a human being.

The company also has its own supercomputer, which is located in Iceland and operates at 5.1 petaflops. According to press releases with such equipment DeepL is ranked 23rd in the Top 500 supercomputers worldwide.

 

The statistics do not lie

The blind test compared the new product and solutions from Google, Facebook, and Microsoft. Professional translators were supposed to choose the best results of the mechanisms in the comparison without knowing the author of the translations:

DeepL’s blind testing results
Source: https://techcrunch.com/2017/08/29/deepl-schools-other-online-translators-with-clever-machine-learning/

 

But that’s not all, because in the BLEU results DeepL also gets great scores. BLEU is an algorithm for evaluating the quality of translation.

 

Why do others recommend DeepL instead of Google Translate?

The main advantage of DeepL in the context of Google Translate is much better knowledge (or rather a detection) of idioms, phrases, and phraseological compounds. Where, for example, Google Translate is weakening and literal meaning is being found, DeepL can surprisingly offer a more nuanced and much more specific language solution. The translation is not a literal translation of the text, but one that best harmonizes with the contexts and connotations characteristic of the words.

The passage from a German news article rendered by DeepL
Source: https://techcrunch.com/2017/08/29/deepl-schools-other-online-translators-with-clever-machine-learning/

The passage from a German news article rendered by Google Translate
Source: https://techcrunch.com/2017/08/29/deepl-schools-other-online-translators-with-clever-machine-learning/

 

No wonder that DeepL is gaining recognition all over the world. Here are some reviews:

Thanks to more French-sounding phrases DeepL has also surpassed other services.Le Monde, France

In the first test, from English to Italian, it was very accurate. In particular, he understood the meaning of the sentence well, instead of being stunned by the literal translation.La Repubblica, Italy

DeepL from Germany surpasses Google Translate. A short WIRED test shows that the results of DeepL are by no means worse than those of its best competitors, and in many cases even surpass them. Translated texts are often much more fluid; where Google Translate creates completely meaningless word strings, DeepL can at least guess the connection.WIRED.de, Germany

We were impressed with how artificial intelligence selects the translations and how the results of its work look afterward. Personally, I had the impression that on the other side sits a man who on speed translates.Antyweb, Poland

 

The DeepL tool has been made available to a wider audience – for free in the form of a website.

Now it is only a matter of waiting for DeepL to advertise its tool, because although it does not have a large language base, at first glance the accuracy of the translations definitely exceeds the most popular tools of this type.

It’s worth watching how the product will develop further as the current achievements of DeepL are really promising.

Did any of you choose DeepL instead of Google Translate?

 

References:

[1] https://techcrunch.com/2017/08/29/deepl-schools-other-online-translators-with-clever-machine-learning/

[2] https://www.deepl.com/blog/20180305.html

[3] https://www.dw.com/en/deepl-cologne-based-startup-outperforms-google-translate/a-46581948

[4] https://www.forbes.com/sites/samanthabaker1/2019/06/27/will-this-german-startup-win-the-translation-game/

[5] https://www.deutsche-startups.de/2018/07/05/deepl-koelner-uebersetzungskoenig-macht-millionengewinn/

[6] https://www.forbesdach.com/artikel/davids-erbe-und-igels-strategie.html

[7] https://www.letemps.ch/societe/deepl-meilleur-traducteur-automatique

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Tight on space? Try a shelf reinvented by Tylko

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Poland ranks 6th in terms of furniture production worldwide. No other of our industries have such a strong position. Despite such a well-developed market, it turned out that there is still room for innovation and development.

The founders of Tylko have created an application for designing shelves themselves. They are boldly invading the global furniture market, which is only just discovering the possibilities of new technologies and sales via the Internet.

Interior design with a Tylko shelf
Source: https://tylko.com/

 

How does it work?

You aim your smartphone at the place where you want to place the rack. You can view and configure a piece of furniture using the app: you can adjust the shape, height, and width of the furniture by sliding the slider and analyze the changing price. The application translates your design into production files and sends them to one of the factories that produce the parts that make up your shelf. It will come to you two or three weeks later as a flat-pack, a self-folding piece of furniture – sequentially packed, with personalized instructions and no tools required.

The Tylko shelf arrangement
Source: https://tylko.com/

Tylko shelf integrated into the interior
Source: https://tylko.com/

 

What distinguishes Tylko from other companies?

Surely the easiest thing to identify is customization. Tylko is not the first company that does it, but it does things completely differently, in a form that is very simple and accessible to everyone. Furniture is supposed to be functional in terms of ergonomics. It is meant to be beautiful, stable, possible to produce and to serve the customer for a long time. All this is written in a complex algorithm, which is very simple to use with a series of sliders to let users quickly tweak and apply dimensions, styles, and finishes. This is the advantage.

 

Why is Tylko a technology company?

Tylko is not e-commerce. The product is sold over the Internet, but calling this startup an e-commerce site is too simplistic. It is a technology company that has its products and creates them. Tylko is an inventor when it comes to a physical product.

The startup has very complex algorithms that make the furniture the way we want it to be, i.e. it meets all values and conditions. Drawing furniture for production has been completely eliminated. Instead of that, Tylko writes programs that draw furniture for production. Automating the creation of production files is a very strong thing at this startup.

In addition, the elements that make up the furniture are of different sizes. Each time they have to be packed in a different way which is also facilitated due to technology. The startup also created an algorithm that packs these things, and by the way, it creates a manual for the factory staff on how to hide these items inside. This process is completely chronological. We open package no. 1, take out the manual, there is an element no. 1, element no. 2, element no. 3. Thanks to this, especially in a small apartment, we don’t have to put everything down on the floor first and look for these things, but they are arranged in turn.

The main markets for the company are Germany, Great Britain, France, Switzerland, Austria, but sales are made all over Europe. Many American investors have tried to convince their founders to bring their business to the United States. However, the owners did not want to do this as the place where they want to develop their product is Poland.

Does the company have a chance to become a global brand that will be recognized? Is there still room for startups in the furniture industry?

 

References:

[1] https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/tight-on-space-think-modular-furniture-600zqdcfp

[2] https://www.forbes.pl/biznes/tylko-meblowi-rewolucjonisci/xcy5mp5

[3] https://techcrunch.com/2017/03/07/tylko-bags-3-1m-to-size-up-a-bespoke-furniture-business/

[4] https://mamstartup.pl/13-polskich-startupow-ktore-moga-podbic-swiat

[5] https://plndesign.pl/tylko-albo-az/

[6] https://gregalbrecht.io/pl/podcast/mikolaj-molenda-tylko/

[7] https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/tylko-2

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Scaled Robotics – an innovator in the construction industry

Reading Time: 3 minutes

It has been exactly a month since we knew the winner of the latest edition of TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin 2019. Congratulations to the newest Startup Battlefield winner, Scaled Robotics, who designed a robot that can produce 3D progress maps of construction sites in minutes.

Scaled Robotics wins the Startup Battlefield
Source: https://techcrunch.com/2019/12/12/scaled-robotics-wins-startup-battlefield-at-disrupt-berlin-2019/

 

How does Scaled Robotics work?

The startup has created a robot that trundles autonomously around construction sites, using a 360-degree camera and custom lidar system to systematically document its surroundings. All this information goes into a software backend where the supervisors can check things like which pieces are in place on which floor, whether they have been placed within the required tolerances, or if there are safety issues like too much detritus on the ground in work areas. The data is assembled automatically but the robot can be either autonomous or manually controlled.

 

Why construction companies need Scaled Robotics?

Construction is one of the world’s largest but also most inefficient and wasteful industries. There are estimates that nearly 20% of every construction project is rework. The problem of waste and rework is so widespread that the industry on average operates on a 1-2% margin. The root of this problem stems from the fact that the construction industry is still relying on tools and processes developed over 100 years ago to tackle the problems of today. The robot can make its rounds faster than a couple of humans with measuring tapes and clipboards. Someone equipped with a stationary laser ranging device that they carry from room to room just works too slowly. Using outdated data is one of the main problems for developers. This is confirmed by the case that was carried out in one of the companies. One of the first times startup took data on a site, the client was completely convinced everything they’d done was perfect. Scaled Robotics put the data in front of them and they found out there was a structural wall just missing, and it had been missing for 4 weeks. Thanks to Scaled Robotics’ technology such situations do not take place.

Simultaneous location and ranging (SLAM) tech
Source: https://techcrunch.com/2019/12/11/scaled-robotics-keeps-an-autonomous-eye-on-busy-construction-sites/

 

Technologies that support people’s work

There is no doubt that the entire competitive advantage of Scaled Robotics lies in innovative technology. An advantage of simultaneous location and ranging (SLAM) tech is that it measures from multiple points of view over time, building a highly accurate and rich model of the environment. Automated Construction Verification system with scans from traditional laser scanners, can verify the quality of the build providing high precision information to localize mistakes and prevent costly errors. What is more, Automated Progress Monitoring helps track the progress of the construction project and provides actionable information for site managers to prevent costly errors. By comparing this to a source CAD model of the building, it can paint a very precise picture of the progress being made. Scaled Robotics also built a special computer vision model that’s suited to the task of sorting obstructions from the constructions and identifying everything in between.

What Scaled Robotics did is that they rethought the entire construction process. Their mission is to modernize construction with Robotics and Artificial Intelligence, thereby creating a manufacturing process that is lean, efficient and cost-effective.

Does Scaled Robotics have a chance to revolutionize the construction industry on a global scale?

 

References:

[1] https://www.scaledrobotics.com/

[2] https://techcrunch.com/2019/12/11/scaled-robotics-keeps-an-autonomous-eye-on-busy-construction-sites/

[3] https://techcrunch.com/2019/08/02/digitizing-construction-sites-with-scaled-robotics/

[4] https://techcrunch.com/2019/12/12/scaled-robotics-wins-startup-battlefield-at-disrupt-berlin-2019/

[5] https://pitchbook.com/profiles/company/279687-25

[6] https://angel.co/company/scaled-robotics

[7] https://www.theburnin.com/startups/scaled-robotics-wins-techcrunch-disrupt-battlefield-3d-construction-site-progress-maps-2019-12/

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Have companies already packed your Christmas presents?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

If you do not know what to wrap your Christmas presents in, do not worry. You still have time. However, companies that have already had to think about gift madness in July, must say something different. The packaging is one of these elements that companies should plan well in advance. In the end, Christmas is the ultimate challenge for all eCommerce owners, retailers, and marketers alike. That is why you should know what Packhelp is.

 

Find the problem and solve it

A Polish company that specializes in low-cost, one-off printed boxes was founded in 2015. The founders, Wojciech Sadowski, Maciej Zając, Konrad Kwiatkowski, Maciej Woźniczko, Patryk Kabaj, and Arek Wasilonek, have all worked in advertising and IT. One of their clients asked them to order custom boxes for his product. After some research, it turned out that it is almost impossible to place an order for a small number of boxes. Why? Because normal printing houses require high minimum orders (>500 pieces) and a lot of technical knowledge, they offer a very long turn around (30-45 days) and very high personalization costs with poor quality. Not to mention even worse customer service. Packhelp founders decided to change that.

 

A unique business model

Packhelp developers have found a unique business model. They used modern technologies to enable everyone to order personalized packaging that was previously reserved only for large companies. Through its online marketplace and intuitive web app, anyone can design and order their own packaging in just a few clicks. Thanks to cutting-edge technologies personalized packaging is accessible for everyone, rather than just medium and big business. It is the technology, unique sales process, superior customer service and constant expansion of their range that helps them conquer new markets. This year the startup has just raised €8.8 million in one of the largest Series A rounds in the CEE region. Packhelp is on track to become one of the major players in the global packaging market.

 

How is this working?

The Packhelp mobile application currently uses modern ARKit. You can choose any flat surface in your surroundings. When you turn on the application, the virtual box model will appear at your fingertips. Users can slide their products into the virtual box model and see if they fit in. The online application is to be even more automated thanks to the use of technologies based on artificial intelligence.

Packhelp mobile application
Source: https://zapakuj.to/aplikacja-mobilna/

 

Sustainable packaging

McDonald’s announced its packaging will be 100% renewable and recycled by 2025. Millennials are pushing brands to be more socially and environmentally responsible. Packhelp has a responsibility to care for the environment and help their customers do the same. That is why every single cardboard product in its range is made from a minimum of 80% recycled cardboard. This means that when you order custom packaging from Packhelp, you are getting a material that was a school book, cereal box or a bank statement in another life. Even when you’re all about eco-friendliness, you can still make that thrilling unboxing moment last longer.

If you are interested in what environmentally friendly products Packhelp offers, watch the video.

 

Perhaps your presents will be packed in boxes designed thanks to Packhelp. In any case, opening gifts is always a nice experience, and it is less than a month when you will do it. It also remains to be hoped that the producers have decided on the most ecological solutions. And more importantly, they thought about ordering packages early enough.

 

References:

[1] https://techcrunch.com/2018/06/05/packhelp-raises-a-seed-round-to-spread-the-love-of-beautiful-boxes/

[2] https://www.eu-startups.com/2019/03/warsaw-based-packhelp-secures-e8-8-million-series-a-for-its-custom-designed-packaging-for-businesses/

[3] https://packhelp.com/18-ideas-for-designing-christmas-packaging/

[4] https://www.forbes.pl/biznes/packhelp-pozyskal-10-mln-dolarow-polskie-pudelka-rozpychaja-sie-w-europie/1j6jg8g

[5] https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/packhelp#section-overview

[6] https://zapakuj.to/aplikacja-mobilna/

[7] https://www.pb.pl/packhelp-dostal-paczke-pieniedzy-956112

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To disrupt the way health is monitored

Reading Time: 3 minutes

After battling it out on Centre Stage, the audience cast their final votes. A moment of waiting and… we have it! Congratulations to Nutrix, who were crowned on Centre Stage at Web Summit 2019 tech conference this week, for their innovative solution to measuring glucose in the blood without needles.

Maria Hahn, CEO & Founder of Nutrix, receiving the main prize at Web Summit 2019
Source: https://portugalinews.eu/web-summit-announces-nutrix-as-pitch-winner/

 

Diabetes prevalence

Firstly, we will look at the data. It is estimated that 415 million people are living with diabetes in the world, which is estimated to be 1 in 11 of the world’s adult population. 46% of people with diabetes are undiagnosed. The forecast is as follows: the figure is expected to rise to 642 million people living with diabetes worldwide by 2040.

 

Nutrix’s vision

This year’s winner of Web Summit PITCH, powered by Siemens is going to disrupt the way health is monitored. Today it is only when you are unwell that you get the information from your doctor. Nutrix wants to give the people a chance to monitor this before.

Nutrix
Source: https://nutrix.tech/

 

Future of glucose monitoring

Currently, Nutrix is developing a high tech nanosensor that is placed on the tooth which detects glucose level in the saliva and transfers information to an external app. Nutrix is invisible, non-invasive, and patient-friendly. Additionally, it will track food intake and provide valuable information for the patient and artificial pancreas algorithms.

Nutrix’s nanosensor technology
Source: https://nutrix.tech/

 

Progress and development

Nutrix is being incubated at University Children’s Hospital Basel and developed at CSEM lab a private, non-profit Swiss research and technology organization.

 

Advantages

It is not the mere fact of monitoring blood glucose that arouses the greatest enthusiasm. It turns out that you can control the level of other chemicals in the same way. The technology proposed by the startup becomes useful not only for people who are sick and their lives depend on the level of specific substances in the blood. It is also an effective way to control the compounds consumed every day.

Correct blood sugar is important not just for diabetics. Fluctuations in blood sugar levels can contribute to weight gain and fat deposits all over the body. Therefore, it is a mistake to think that glucose levels should be controlled only by those who have diabetes.

So we get to the point where we can confidently say that the use of Nutrix is ​​an effective way to prevent civilization diseases.

Finally, Nutrix has a long-term vision that goes further than just glucose. This is their current focus, but ultimately the company wants to go into how to monitor the reaction of the immune system.

 

Diabetes and the environment

There are more advantages. Blood glucose test strips are the basic equipment of every diabetic. The strips are used for self-monitoring of blood glucose. They are used once and then discarded.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, lancets are medical wastes called sharps. Sharps can be dangerous to that handling garbage if they are thrown in the regular trash. What is more, many people do not pay attention to the safe disposal of their medical waste. The use of a nanosensor eliminates the need for strips and reduces harmful effects on the environment.

 

Cost-effectiveness

An additional advantage of eliminating the need to use measuring instruments is not only the reduction of harmful effects on the environment. The less intrusive (read needleless) device will be sold at half the price of existing devices.

Invisible, non-invasive, patient-friendly. Good for the Earth and still less costly. There is nothing else to do but observe how Nutrix revolutionizes medicine. Soon, checking how many chemicals you ate during the day will be a matter of opening the app.

Can you imagine all of that data on your mobile device’s screen without the need of doing blood tests?

 

References:

[1] https://portugalinews.eu/web-summit-announces-nutrix-as-pitch-winner/

[2] https://www.diabetes.co.uk/diabetes-prevalence.html

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diabetes

[4] https://nutrix.tech/

[5] https://www.eu-startups.com/2019/11/nutrix-glycose-level-measurement-device-wins-pitch-competition-at-web-summit-2019/

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glucose_meter

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK115277/

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