First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Chen-Ping Yu: We are fortunately doing well and trying our very best to maintain a healthy and active routine where we can.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Phiar.
Chen-Ping Yu: I came from a research background in computer AI. Having completed my PhD in Computer Vision AI in 2016, I continued the research path with a Post-Doc Fellowship at Harvard further in neural-inspired AI. Originally I wanted to build a career in academia, however I found that there are many real-world applications and pain points that could be solved with a lot of the technologies that I was involved in, one of them being that AI was (and still is) too hardware-intensive and a lighter weight AI can be easier to be deployed. Therefore I decided to put my AI expertise into the real-world by co-founding Phiar that builds lightweight AI to power AR navigation as our first use case, with the goal of transforming how people navigate, interact, and experience the world forever.
How does Phiar innovate?
Chen-Ping Yu: Our company is developing the missing layer that all smart mobility and connected cars services and applications require: Spatial AI that allows a vehicle to perceive its surroundings using a camera that can run in real-time at the edge, on a commodity automotive compute platform. Our ultra-lightweight spatial AI technology is powering our anchoring use case of AR navigation, and we aim to have our AI-powered AR navigation platform to support additional smart mobility and connected car services in the near future.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Chen-Ping Yu: Since we are in the mobility space, as people have been cutting down their driving due to the pandemic, this has made our automotive deals to be slower than usual, as well as affecting our live testing progress.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Chen-Ping Yu: So far we haven’t had to make many difficult choices as we are still quite lean, and we were fortunate to have several of our business partners working out financial deals that can help us crossing over this difficult time.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Phiar in the future?
Chen-Ping Yu: I recently picked up meditation and that has helped a lot with stress and anxiety; VR Headsets are also a surprisingly effective tool for indoor exercises! I think a lot of the new things that we have newly adopted to cope with the pandemic would be very beneficial for our well-beings moving forward.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Chen-Ping Yu: We compete with players in the navigation and maps industry that are also building AR use cases on top of their current offerings. We are leading the race and we plan to maintain and stretch our lead by continuing to push our technology boundaries, to offer the very best solution to our customers.
Your final thoughts?
Chen-Ping Yu: I hope everyone can continue to stay healthy during this very difficult time. Fortunately 2020 is almost over and I’m looking forward to a much better 2021!