Google CEO Sundar Pichai has professed, that at about the time that the company was moving into an ‘artificial intelligence first’ world. The Internet giant is financing AI start-ups across India to help it achieve that goal. Budding ventures that analyze medical data to reduce human error, gather insights to help travelers and even provide cooking apps for diverse culinary needs, are some of the AI companies that Google is nourishing at its ‘Launchpad Accelerator.’
“The speed at which you can solve problems is so much faster when you apply AI,” quoted Paul Ravindranath G, program manager, Google India. “We have started including companies that are efficiently solving problems using AI and machine learning.”
Launchpad Accelerator Programme
The firm’s six-month accelerator programme meets young companies from emerging ecosystems with the best of its people, network and advanced technologies to help calibrate their products. It also joins them with mentors from top tech firms and venture capitalists in the Silicon Valley, U.S.
In return, Google, whose parent company Alphabet Inc. reported a revenue of $90.27 billion in 2016, is hoping that its technology and cloud computing platform gets consumed by these start-ups and they build their innovation on top of them.
One such firm is SigTuple which is building intelligent screening solutions to aid diagnosis through AI-powered analysis of visual medical data. The company also aims to improve speed, accuracy, and consistency of some screening processes. Also, medical institutions can serve more patients, with a significant decrease in human errors.
Through its accelerator programme, Google is also rigorously fostering TensorFlow, a software that makes it easier to build AI systems. This is being used by Kochi-based start-up Agrima Infotech. It had developed a deep-learning computer vision technology which could be used for advanced image recognition techniques. Agrima has implemented this in ‘Recipe Book’ a favorite cooking app on Android Play store. The app solves the recipe discovery problem. For example, a user needs just to click an image of an ingredient. It then quickly recognizes and suggests the best recipes which could be made out of that component.
Google’s accelerator programme is also backing Noida-based RailYatri, whose app helps long-distance travelers at every stage of the journey. This includes inquiry about seat availability, the best route to take, information about train delays as well ordering the food and booking the hotel. The firm stated that approximately 40 million people in India take long-distance journeys daily. However, the transportation system used by these people are constrained by supply-demand mismatch and operational inefficiencies.
Old problems persist
Google was among the earliest to start buying private firms to advance its own AI research and is now the most active acquirer in the space, according to CB Insights, a data intelligence platform. This July, Google acquired Bengaluru-based Halli Labs that applies modern AI and machine-learning techniques to solve old problems.
This month, dunzo, a task-fulfillment start-up that leverages AI and human operators also raised a $12.3-million Series B round led by Google, according to Aspada, an investor in the Bengaluru-based firm. Dunzo provides a conversational mobile commerce platform. It manages the discovery and fulfillment of local tasks across categories such as food and grocery delivery, and offline retail purchases.
In 2013, Google also picked up deep learning and neural network startup DNNresearch from the computer science department at the University of Toronto, said CB Insights. According to the report it shared, this acquisition helped Google make major upgrades to its image search feature. In 2014 Google acquired British company DeepMind Technologies for some $600 million.