Startups Talk About Their Not-So-Secret Weapon: GPUs

by Alain Tiquet

While our GPU Technology Conference events often focus the biggest names in technology, there’s glory for some of the newest names, as well.

Our maiden GTC Europe — which this week flows over several floors in Amsterdam’s glass-walled Passenger Terminal to the North Sea — is showcasing startups using GPUs from across the continent in the latest edition of our Emerging Companies Summit.

After eight years, we have the formula for ECS down cold: Find fresh companies doing awesome things with GPUs. Put them in front of investors, analysts and potential customers. And stir things up by holding a competition for bragging rights for being named the most promising — while throwing in the right incentives.

This round, a half dozen companies, winnowed down from a list of more than 20, stood and delivered before a group of industry leaders, including VCs; the eminence gris of  industry analysts, Jon Peddie; and an NVIDIA exec. Amid tough competition, a 20-person Swedish company, Mapillary, took home the prize, describing its plans to create detailed maps of the world through crowdsourcing.

Pictured: Analyst Jon Peddie, NVIDIA’s Alain Tiquet, Mapillary CEO Jan-Erik Solem, and NVIDIA’s Serge Lemonde.

“A fundamental piece in making cars and cities smarter is using map data,” said Mapillary CEO and co-founder Jan-Erik Solem, a former computer vision professor at Lund University. “There’s no scalable way to capture this, so we’re crowdsourcing images to introduce scalability in image collecting and scalability in data extraction.”

The company uses community members worldwide to deploy cameras — ranging from smartphones and GoPros to professional DSLRs — to take photos and video that get stitched together using its sophisticated computer vision technology. With more than  1.9 million km of roads already mapped in more than 180 countries, Mapillary has customers that range from municipalities, which need to monitor street signs and trees, to the World Bank, which keeps tabs on conditions in developing countries.

For winning ECS, Solem received an NVIDIA Telsa P100 GPU accelerator designed for artificial intelligence; $120,000 in credit for Microsoft Azure cloud services; and a free trip this spring to Silicon Valley, where he’ll get a chance to compete at the main GPU Technology Conference for up to $100,000 cash.

Mapillary is heading in the right direction.

Over the years, ECS has given the world a first look at startups such as Oculus Rift, which was acquired by Facebook for $2 billion; Gaikai, acquired by Sony for $380 million; Natural Motion, snapped up by Zynga for $527 million; and Magic Pony Technology, which was purchased by Twitter for $150 million.

The other five companies presenting at this week’s Amsterdam event included:

  • AI Build — CEO Daghan Cam described the company’s work developing AI and robotic fabrication technologies to make manufacturing and construction easy, smart, accessible and affordable.
  • DreamQuark — CEO Nicolas Meric presented his firm’s efforts to help insurance, financial services and healthcare companies create value from the massive amounts of data they have stored.
  • Loop AI — CEO G.M. Calafiore talked about his company’s application of using a DL cognitive technology applying human capacity to power robotic process automation and augmenting the capacity of current employees.
  • Reliability Solutions — CEO Mateusz Marzec talked about using deep learning to predict when preventative maintenance is required to avoid failures of machines and equipment.
  • Vidi — CTO Reto Wyss described how the firm’s software uses image analysis based on deep learning for machine vision focused on the pharmaceutical, auto, medical and textile industries.