by Hector Marinez

NVIDIA just announced its “Ones to Watch” award, which recognizes five promising startups from among the 60 that took part in the Emerging Companies Summit (part of the GPU Technology Conference) in early October.

The five winners– selected for their technology, market opportunity and potential to make an impact¬– use GPU technology to create new opportunities based on visual computing, video processing and computer vision.

• IQ Engines of (Berkeley, Calif.) has technology that recognizes and labels photos, making it possible for content owners to monetize images.
• Milabra (New York City) uses computer vision to recognize images and serve up ads alongside them, much in the way that Google AdSense does for text.
• MirriAd (London) has created an embedded advertising platform for video content. This is product placement after the fact – added in so seamlessly it looks like it’s always been there.
• Ubitus (Taipei) provides a video cloud computing platform, allowing, for instance, telecoms to offer premium services around live video sharing and consumers to access rich media on any device with a browser.
• Visuvi (Redwood City, Calif.) has created a visual search technology using computer vision and machine learning that lets you search for images without text. It has applications for medical imaging as well as consumer search.

What’s interesting about this lineup is what it says about the future of image processing and the way our online experience of images and video is going to change. IQ Engines, Milabra and MirriAd each take different approaches to solving one of the most nettlesome problems on the web today: how to monetize the ever-growing numbers of online photos and video. The intensive processing demand of their technologies means their offerings become cost-effective only with the GPU.

A common theme heard at ECS was that online video content is about to explode the way that photos did a few years ago. Ubitus anticipates the virtualization of video content – where it doesn’t matter where the video is physically stored, nor does it matter what device you choose to access it with. GPUs allow Ubitus to transcode video in real-time, streaming content across different networks, codecs, bandwidths and resolutions.

Visuvi Pic And in Visuvi’s (Chris Boone, CEO of Visuvi, receiving award) case, medical imaging is another area where GPU technology is poised to have a major impact. Visuvi’s algorithms allow for instance, doctors to take an image that might show cancer and feed it into the image search, returning images that are similar in order to make a more accurate diagnosis.

Back in March, NVIDIA launched its GPU Ventures program with the goal of identifying new companies that leverage GPU technology and supporting them with everything from direct investment to networking opportunities. With this award, GPU ecosystems just got a little healthier.