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Groundlight, an artificial intelligence (AI) startup based in Seattle, emerged from stealth today with the launch of its new computer vision platform and $10 million in seed round funding.
The round was led by Madrona, with participation from Greycroft Partners, Founders Co-op, Flying Fish, AscendVC and EssenceVC.
The platform allows developers to interpret images programmatically using simple English language instructions and minimal code. It is meant to be integrated into applications such as video stream analysis, industrial automation, process monitoring, retail analytics and robotics.
The service is currently available to a select group of customers through its pilot program. The startup plans to expand its availability and features in the coming months. The platform enables developers, even those without data science experience, to rapidly build robust vision solutions.
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All it takes is a camera and a few lines of code
Traditionally, developers would need to gather and label a dataset, train a model and then create an MLOps solution to maintain it. This process can take months. Groundlight’s computer vision platform simplifies the process, allowing developers to start within minutes by describing their visual task in natural language. The platform then generates an application-specific model and continuously optimizes it using feedback from expert human monitors. For example, a developer could write “count the number of people wearing masks” or “identify the objects on the conveyor belt” and get instant results.
The company calls this workflow its “escalation technology,” which combines traditional deep learning, massive foundation models, edge computing, and perhaps most critically, real-time expert human supervision. As a result, small and mid-sized manufacturers can swiftly implement machine learning (ML) solutions to enhance productivity.
In a statement, Uriel Eisen, founder of Austere Manufacturing, said Groundlight’s API allows for the rapid implementation of a working solution using an over-the-counter camera and minimal coding. “Quality control, process efficiency, and continuous improvement are crucial to our success,” he said. “We’re excited to use Groundlight to inspect our products and monitor our processes without the development overhead of a typical industrial solution. Their API enables a $10 camera and a few lines of code to implement a working solution in minutes.”
Solving real-world problems
Founded in 2019, Groundlight is built by a team with decades of experience in automation and manufacturing. Amazon AI veteran Leo Dirac and Microsoft hardware alum Avi Geiger both led careers in corporate tech before deciding to build a software-based service capable of empowering small and medium-sized businesses with computer vision.
“We feel like the world is on the cusp of a revolution that, in the last 10 years, robots couldn’t do a quarter of the things they do today. But you look at what Boston Dynamics can do, and what other quadrupedal and bipedal robots can do…They are really approaching human-level physical capabilities,” Groundlight founder and CEO Leo Dirac said in an interview with VentureBeat.
“What’s holding [robots] back is the judgment and understanding of the world around them,” he said. “So we started talking to customers who are solving real-world robotics problems. This is, frankly, mostly inside factories, because robots just aren’t smart enough to deal with the complex, unstructured world, which is outside of a very carefully controlled environment, like a factory.”
“The path to solving that problem, I think we can all see now, is through machine learning and AI,” Dirac said. “We realized that the real opportunity was in the perception part of the problem, that robots are limited in what they can do in terms of understanding the world around them. Vision is a key component that we like most people use dominantly, for their understanding of the world around them.”
As computer vision technology matures and becomes more accessible, experts predict that computer vision will become a key driver of innovation and efficiency across various industries. According to a Market Research Future report, the computer vision market is expected to reach $168.8 billion by 2030.
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