We talked to Shinya Motohashi, Co-founder and COO at Edgematrix, about modern-day AI and this is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Shinya Motohashi: Although the number of infected people in Japan is less than in Europe and the United States, my family often stays at home to prevent infection with COVID-19. We are free to go out, but most of my work is done at home.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Edgematrix.
Shinya Motohashi: After working with a Japanese telecommunications company and Vodafone, I joined a Silicon Valley headquarters startup over 10 years ago. And for about 5 years, we have been developing a new AI business in Japan. In 2019, we spun off the AI business and founded EDGEMATRIX with 9M USD funding from NTT DoCoMo and construction companies in Japan.
How does Edgematrix innovate?
Shinya Motohashi: Our innovation is to provide one-stop and seamless AI products and services for video at the data generation site (edge) as known as “Video Edge AI”. Camera images are becoming more and more high definition like 4k and 8k. Due to a large amount of data, it is difficult to always send high-definition video to the cloud via a communication line for AI processing. However, it is not easy to install large-scale equipment for video AI processing on site.
To address this issue, we have developed the “Edge AI Box,” a small device that can perform AI processing and communication at the site (edge) where data is generated.
This Edge AI Box can be installed in many different locations. It is impossible to manage one by one by human hands. Therefore, we provide a cloud service for remote management of this device. By using this service, you can remotely replace, install, and run various AI apps that you need. In addition, images analyzed by AI can be monitored at many locations at the same time.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Shinya Motohashi: There were good and bad sides. The good thing is that the increased opportunities to use AI for camera images installed on-site have created a new source of revenue. For example, a solution that uses AI and a thermal camera to detect high body temperature and prevents it from passing through the entrance gate. Or if there are more than a certain number of people in a small space, AI will warn you, etc. The downside is that the big project was postponed.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
Shinya Motohashi: By introducing video and AI at the edge, it turned out that it is possible to do things that conventional humans could not do. For example, humans cannot simultaneously monitor the images of hundreds of surveillance cameras installed in buildings and towns. However, AI can be used to warn of images of danger or anomalies. Since this can be done at the edge, real-time response becomes possible.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Shinya Motohashi: No!
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Shinya Motohashi: No!