This week was NVIDIA’s Emerging Companies Summit and as I’ve done for a number of years now, I’ve participated in the review panel. This year there were some amazing solutions for product placement in video, on-line customized product retail, and a solution called Mainframe2 that is designed to put your engineering workstations in the cloud.
Let’s cover some of my favorites.
Cortexica stood out as the company that had used models of human image differentiation to create an e-commerce-targeted image recognition system that could more quickly match buyers to the things they wanted to buy. Apparently, there are two types of image recognition companies: those focused on facial recognition for things like security and authentication, and those focused on everything else. Cortexica is in the latter group.
For instance, for eBay motors, it has a service that allows a user to take a picture of a car they see and like, and then it connects that user online to similar cars that are for sale on the service. For eBay clothing, you take a picture of an outfit that you like and it gives you a choice of similar clothing that is on sale. The first tries for more of an exact match -- car for car -- and the second groups by pattern, color and style to get you close enough. Pretty powerful because it allows you to drive from image and buying intent to actually making the online purchase in real time.
Back when the Internet first got off the ground, I was convinced that one of the big breakthroughs would be retailers that could build what you designed for yourself in terms of clothing and shoes. What I didn’t realize was that first there needed to be a common platform that would allow such a solution and manufacturing flexibility enabling it.
Well, manufacturing has become vastly more flexible over the years and Fluid provides a solution that interfaces between what a buyer creates and what these systems can build. Currently in use by companies like Reebok for shoes, Serena & Lily for bedding, JanSport for accessories, Look Twenty Eight for clothing, and other branded providers like Nine West and Vans, it is delivering the experience, enabling build-to-order solutions for consumers. It is interesting to note that this has also shifted related manufacturing from Asia to the U.S. because folks will pay extra to get their own design more quickly and are less likely to return what they designed.
Morpheus takes what is typically a long process on an expensive money-losing MRI machine and turns it into a short (8 minute) event that creates an accurate 3D image of the part of your body being studied (generally your heart). The issue with MRI machines is that the 1.5 hours that a scan typically takes on this $1M+ machine eats up more resources than medical insurance companies are willing to pay for, so MRI machines are money losers in hospitals.
But if you can take that 1.5 hours and turn it into 8 minutes, you can cycle through far more people and suddenly the money loser is a money maker. Interestingly, the quality of the result is better too, because the resulting model, evidently, is easier to work with. This is one of those technologies that could save your life.
Mainframe2 is the hosted workstation with the screwy name. I spent a lot of time in IBM branding and we did everything we could to get away from the mainframe name back in the 1990s. However, it carries a lot of recognition and this interesting company apparently is willing to take the risk that it could be perceived as out of date in exchange for that recognition.
Ironically, this is not a new mainframe product but a highly scalable remote workstation offering. This is a powerful, hosted workstation solution that allows workstation applications to be delivered as a SaaS offering and scale to the requirements of the job. Workstations by nature are expensive, the software that runs on them even more so, and both are generally underutilized and often relatively unsecure because powerful engineers often have a great deal to say about their work environment, which may expose the hardware and work product excessively to theft.
This solution potentially addresses all three problems, centralizing the hardware into a protected environment, eliminating the CapEx cost and providing the software as part of the subscription, avoiding the high upfront cost. While more Workstation 2 than Mainframe 2, it is nonetheless a powerful alternative to buying and supporting hardware on premise.
NVIDIA’s GPU Technology Conference is an amazing event and the Emerging Companies Summit is an interesting part of it. Here you see companies doing amazing things. This year I saw technology that could save my life, could allow me to finally customize my clothing and shoes, and could put my high-performance hardware in the cloud, reducing the chance a burglary would shut me down.
One final company I ran into was Total Immersion. It wasn’t in one of my sessions, but it has a technology that actually takes the shopper, Web searcher or game player and puts them in the action. You have to check out its video to see what I mean.
Over all, there were a number of companies that showcased their unique technology at the Emerging Companies Summit. I can’t wait until next year because I expect I’ll be even more amazed at what I see.