Home Tech Mobius Labs nabs $6M to help more sectors tap into computer vision...

Mobius Labs nabs $6M to help more sectors tap into computer vision – TechCrunch

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Berlin-based Mobius Labs has closed a €5.2 million (~$6.1M) funding round from increased demand for its computer vision training platform. Ventech VC, Atlantic Labs, APEX Ventures, Space Capital, Lunar Ventures, and some additional angel investors lead the Series A investment.

The startup offers an SDK that lets the user create custom computer vision models fed with a little of their training data — as an alternative to off-the-shelf tools, which may not have the required specificity for a particular use case.

As an SDK, Mobius Labs’ platform can also be deployed on-premise and nontechnical— rather than the customer needing to connect to a cloud service to tap into the AI tool’s utility. It also flags a ‘no code’ focus, saying its tech has been designed with a non-technical user in mind. “Our custom training user interface is straightforward to work with and requires no prior technical knowledge on any level,” claims Appu Shaji, CEO and chief scientist. 

“Over the years, a trend we have observed is that often the people who get the maximum value from AI are nontechnical personas like a content manager in a press and creative agency or an application manager nontechnical sector. Our no-code AI allows anyone to build their applications, thus enabling these users to get close to their Vision without waiting for AI experts or developer teams to help them.”

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Mobius Labs — founded in 2018 — now has 30 customers using its tools for various use cases. Uses include categorization, recommendation, prediction, reducing operational expense, and “generally connecting users and audiences to visual content that is most relevant to their needs”. (Press and broadcasting and the stock photography sector have unsurprisingly been big focuses.)

But it reckons there’s a broader utility for its tech and is gearing up for growth. It caters to businesses of various sizes, from startups to SMEs, but mainly targets global enterprises with significant content challenges — hence its historical focus on the media sector and video use cases. Now, though, it’s also targeting geospatial and earth observation applications as it seeks to expand its customer base.

The 30-strong startup has doubled in size over the last 18 months. Year-on-year growth has also been 2x, but it believes it can dial that up by tapping into other sectors. With the new funding, it’s planning to double its headcount again over the next 12 months as it looks to expand its geographical footprint — focusing on Europe and the US.

“We are working with industries rich in visual data,” says Shaji. “The geospatial sector is something we are focussing on currently as we strongly believe they are producing vast amounts of visual data. However, these huge archives of raw pixel data are useless.

“For instance, if we want to track how riverfronts are expanding, we have to look at data collected by satellites, sort and tag them to analyze them. Currently, this is being done manually. The technology we are creating comes in a lightweight SDK and can be deployed directly into these satellites. The raw data can be detected and then analyzed by machine learning algorithms. We are currently working with satellite companies in this sector.”

On the competitive front, Shaji names Clarifai and Google Cloud Vision as the main rivals it has in its sights.   “We realize these are the big players but at the same time believe that we have something unique to offer, which these players cannot: Unlike their solutions, our platform users can be outside the field of computer vision.

By democratizing the training of machine learning models beyond simply the technical crowd, we are making computer vision accessible and understandable by anyone, regardless of their job titles,” he argues. “Another core value that differentiates us is how we treat client data. Our solutions are delivered in a Software Development Kit (SDK), which runs on-premise, completely locally on clients’ systems. No data is ever sent back to us. Our role is to empower people to build applications and make them their own.”

Computer vision startups have been a hot acquisition target in recent years, and some earlier startups offering ‘computer vision as a service’ got acquired by IT services firms to beef up their existing offerings. At the same time, tech giants like Amazon and (the aforementioned) Google offer their computer vision services too. But Shaji suggests the tech is now at a different stage of development — and primed for “mass adoption”. 

“We’re talking about providing solutions that empower clients to build their applications,” he says, summing up the competitive play. “And that [do that] with complete data privacy, where our solutions run on-premise, and we don’t see our client’s data. Coupled with that is our technology’s ease of use: It is a lightweight solution that can be deployed on many ‘edge’ devices like smartphones, laptops, and even satellites.”  

Commenting on the funding in a statement, Stephan Worries, partner at Ventech VC, added: “Appu and the team at Mobius Labs have developed an unparalleled offering in the computer vision space. Superhuman Vision is impressively innovative with its high accuracy despite very limited required training to recognize new objects at excellent computational efficiency. We believe industries will be transformed through AI, and Mobius Labs is the European Deep Tech innovator teaching machines to see.”

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