Imagine a world where no one’s privacy is breached, no faces are scanned into a huge database, and no privacy laws are broken. This is a world that is fast approaching. Can companies simply eliminate the need for real-world CCTV footage, and switch to synthetic humans, acting out possible scenarios a million times over? This is the tantalizing prospect of a new UK startup that has attracted funding from an influential group of investors.
UK based MindTech Global It has developed what it describes as an end-to-end synthetic data creation platform. In plain English, its system can visualize visual scenarios such as someone’s behavior inside a store, or crossing a street. This data is used to train AI-based computer vision systems for customers such as large retailers, warehouse operators, healthcare, transportation systems, and robotics. It literally trains a ‘synthetic’ CCTV camera inside a synthetic world.
That last investor is important. In-Q-Tel invests in startups that help US intelligence capabilities and based in Arlington, Virginia…
Mindtech’s Chameleon platform is designed to help computers understand and predict human interactions. As we all know, the current approach to training AI vision systems requires companies to have a data source such as CCTV footage. The process is fraught with privacy issues, expensive and time consuming. Mindtech says Chameleon solves that problem, as its customers quickly “create unlimited scenes and landscapes using photo-realistic smart 3D models”.
An added bonus is that these synthetic humans can be used to train AI vision systems to address human failures surrounding diversity and bias.
MindTech CEO Steve Harris said: “Machine learning teams can spend up to 80% of their time sourcing, cleaning and organizing training data. Our Chameleon platform solves the AI training challenge, helping the industry through AI network innovation such as Frees us up to focus on high-value tasks. This round will enable us to accelerate our development, enabling a new generation of AI solutions that help humans interact with each other and the world around them. better understand how to interact with
So what can you do with it? Consider the following: A child slips out of his parent’s hand at the mall. Synthetic CCTV running inside Mindtec’s landscape is trained thousands of times how to view it in real time and alert staff. Second: A delivery robot meets children playing in a street and figures out how to avoid them. Finally: a passenger on the platform is misbehaving too close to the rail – CCTV is trained to automatically detect them and send help.
In-Q-Tel Managing Director (London) Nate Puffer commented: “Mindtech impressed us with the maturity of their Chameleon platform and their commercial traction with global customers. We are looking forward to the many applications of this platform in various markets and the smart, We are excited by the potential to remove a significant obstacle to the development of more intuitive AI systems.”
Miles Kirby, CEO of DeepTech Labs, said: “As a catalyst for deeptech success, our investment and accelerator program supports ambitious teams with an appetite for novel solutions and building world-changing companies. MindTech’s highly-experienced team AI is on a mission to disrupt the way systems are trained, and we are happy to support their journey.
There’s certainly potential for darker applications, such as a petty theft inside a supermarket, or perhaps ‘customizing’ hard-pressed warehouse workers in some dystopian fashion. However, in theory, MindTech’s customers can use this platform to free themselves from the biases of middle-managers and serve customers better.