Top 5 Machine Learning Companies to Keep an Eye on in 2018

Even as 2017 winds down, all eyes are still fixed on the future of AI and machine learning.

With the recent revelation that the number of VC funding deals to AI startups stalled in Q3 2017, some critics note that investor interest in AI has perhaps reached its peak. Despite this claim, investors put forth well over $ 1.165 billion toward AI and machine learning companies, signaling that new blood in the space will have to fight tooth and nail to score future funding.

The takeaway heading into 2018? The barrier to entry for AI startups is becoming higher than ever – even as the current movers and shakers in the space are poised to change tech as we know it.

But who are those players, anyway? What should trends should we be looking out for? Below we’ve outlined the top five machine learning companies to watch next year.

1. Status Today

The concept of productivity goes hand in hand with machine learning and automation. Status Today is working to boost productivity in the workplace through AI to both keep track of employee performance and detect anomalies.

This robust, AI-driven engine clues leaders in on which roles, departments and teams are the most engaged and active, in real-time. Status Today automatically stores all employee activity logs, which companies can ultimately use to track workplace trends over time. Rather than digging for developments regarding employee performance, this AI solution paints a clear picture of any given company’s productivity status automatically.

As an added bonus, Status Today’s solution is striving to keep company data safer, using company information to detect any employees who could represent security threats by acting atypically. In a tech world plagued with breach concerns, this is obviously a major plus.

2. Sisense

Organizations struggling to make sense of the many moving pieces of business intelligence are continuously looking at machine learning for a solution. Sisense not only simplifies the process of analyzing BI through visualized data, but also uses machine learning to help business understand how to meet goals regarding their most important metrics.

Sisense Pulse uses AI to track the desired KPIs and crucial metrics of an organization over time, which can include anything from including sales numbers and win rates to supply chain performance and production floor efficiency. The system detects abnormalities and helps businesses determine at a glance whether or not they’re on track to reach their respective goals.

Custom alerts keep businesses informed as to whether or not they need to take immediate action regarding a particular KPI. Sisense Pulse also integrates with the likes of Zapier and Slack, ensuring speedy action and a smooth synthesis with the tools that are already second nature to modern companies.

3. Deepgram

Sometimes it’s the problems you think only your organization has, which can best be solved by the likes of AI. Such is the case of Deepgram, the automated audio transcription service that uses deep learning to convert audio into text.

From interviews and meetings to conversations and beyond, Deepgram removes the headache of having to sort through lengthy audio files manually, or to pay for professional transcriptions that are often fraught with errors. Using heaps of data to make recordings searchable, items such as closed captions, subtitles and transcriptions are only a copy-and-paste away.

Claiming to leave Google Speech API in the dust, Deepgram prioritizes accuracy and efficiency on behalf of companies with demand for processing a high volume of audio. The self-learning solution is poised to improve with time to provide precise transcriptions in an instant.

4. Iris.AI

The theme of AI removing otherwise tedious tasks from the plates of organizations is perhaps most prevalent in the work currently being done by Iris.AI.

This tool is capable of sifting through scientific language on behalf of R&D departments as well as individual users. Breaking down key concepts and topics from over 66 million Open Access papers, Iris.IA notes that their solution can cut traditional research time in half for its users.

In short, the functions of this so-called science assistant are transforming the way that we look at research at large.

5. ViSenze

Visual search technology offers some key advantages over text search. With keywords, if the way you formulate your query doesn’t match the taxonomy of the original content publisher, then your results won’t match what you’re hoping for. But with visuals, assuming that the search system is “smart” enough to discern the object’s attributes, you’re far more likely to find what you’re after.

ViSenze’s visual search engine seems to have the smarts required to make this happen. Through partnerships with Ratuken and other ecommerce platforms, their machine learning-powered technology is already helping shoppers find the looks that they see in the wild. The Singapore-based company is currently forging alliances with content publishers to help monetize their videos by making clips shoppable.

Conclusion

In the ever-changing worlds of AI and machine learning, these companies are among the top holding the reigns for their respective areas of expertise. As investors are becoming more selective in regard to the companies they invest and more advanced bots emerge, the buzz over the AI space will only continue to grow.

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Hydrogen fuel-cell car push 'dumb'? Toyota makes a case for the Mirai

TOKYO (Reuters) – Having invested heavily in hydrogen, a technology derided by Tesla chief Elon Musk as “incredibly dumb”, Toyota Motor Corp is making a renewed push for fuel cell cars to fill a role in a future dominated by electric battery vehicles.

FILE PHOTO – The Toyota Mirai, an hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, is displayed on media day at the Paris auto show, in Paris, France, September 29, 2016. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

Japan’s biggest automaker believes both technologies – all-electric battery cars like the Tesla Model X on one hand and Toyota’s hydrogen Mirai on the other – will be needed to fully usurp gasoline cars. 

“We don’t really see an adversary ‘zero-sum’ relationship between the EV (electric vehicle) and the hydrogen car,” Toyota chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada told Reuters ahead of the Tokyo auto show. “We’re not about to give up on hydrogen electric fuel-cell technology at all.”

Toyota began pitching its fuel-cell car as a mainstream gasoline car alternative in 2014 when it launched the Mirai with a price tag of 7.24 million yen – almost $ 70,000 at the time.

The car has since been launched in the United States and other countries around the world. But initial excitement has faded as major markets including China and Europe have tilted heavily toward electric vehicles.

Just 4,300 Mirais have been sold, compared to around 4 million units of the Prius, Toyota’s blockbuster hybrid that ushered in the age of the EV.

Uchiyamada, who is known as the “father of the Prius”, says Toyota isn’t anti-EV and is investing heavily in technologies such all solid-state lithium-ion batteries to make them more desirable.

But it also sees some advantages for hydrogen cars, which are propelled by electricity generated by fuel cells.

One major issue facing EVs is the length of time they take to charge – up to 18 hours in some cases – and a problem being amplified as automakers pack in more batteries to extend range.

Rapid charging technology is helping to solve this issue. But a 30- to 40-minute wait is still too long for many ordinary drivers with busy lives, says Yoshikazu Tanaka, the chief engineer in charge of Toyota’s Mirai.

What’s worse, rapid charging when used too often compromises battery life significantly, he and other engineers say.

While a hydrogen car can refuel in under five minutes, the high cost of the technology and a lack of refuelling stations is a problem, something Toyota has been focused on addressing.

The company has joined forces in Japan with rivals Nissan Motor Co and Honda Motor Co, and with energy companies such as JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy to build a network of refuelling stations that now totals 91.

FILE PHOTO – The Toyota Mirai, Toyota Motor Corporation’s first commercially available, mid-sized hydrogen fuel cell sedan, is seen at a press preview in Newport Beach, California, November 17, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

Tanaka also wants to significantly extend the car’s driving range to compensate for the lack of fuelling stations.

While still at the concept stage, Tanaka wants to raise the “practical driving range” of the Mirai to about 500 km (310 miles) from the current 350-400 km (190-250 miles). A fuel cell car’s practical range usually dips to 65-70 percent of its “sticker” range – 650 km for the Mirai – because drivers often use air-conditioning and accelerate with abandon.

Making the fuel cell system more efficient and trying to gain more propulsion power from a given amount of hydrogen will be key, Tanaka said. He also wants to package the vehicle more efficiently to gain more storage space for larger fuel tanks.

CHINA HOPES

Toyota says one of the most promising markets for hydrogen cars is China – a key advocate of electric cars but one which is beginning to embrace fuel-cell technology as well.

Last month, Shanghai announced plans to promote development of fuel-cell vehicles by adding hydrogen refueling stations, subsidizing companies developing fuel-cell technologies and setting up R&D facilities. The city’s goal is to put 20,000 hydrogen fuel-cell passenger vehicles and 10,000 commercial vehicles on the road by 2025.

”Chinese policymakers visit us and we visit them frequently” to discuss Toyota’s hydrogen fuel-cell technology, says Katsuhiko Hirose, a green tech engineer at Toyota. 

Toyota was set to test hydrogen fuel-cell cars in China this month as part of an effort to determine the feasibility of selling the Mirai there.

But it’s not all just about cars.

In an effort to encourage other industries to use hydrogen, Toyota and Air Liquide S.A. helped set up the Hydrogen Council, a global lobby launched in January on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

With 27 members including automakers Audi, BMW, Daimler, Honda, Hyundai, and energy companies such as Shell and Total, the Hydrogen Council has lobbying policymakers and investors on hydrogen.

The council’s main argument is that electricity supplies can be limited and unstable in high demand. That’s because power grids have small buffers as electricity cannot be stored easily and transported. Large-scale adoption of hydrogen can solve that issue, said Toyota’s Uchiyamada, who is also co-chair of the Hydrogen Council. 

Electricity generated during the night, which usually goes to waste when unused, and electricity generated by solar and windmills can be stored and easily transported as liquid hydrogen, much like gasoline.

“Elon Musk is right – it’s better to charge the electric car directly by plugging in,” said Tanaka. But hydrogen has a place as a viable alternative to gasoline, he added.

Reporting by Norihiko Shirouzu; Editing by Lincoln Feast

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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