July 15, 2022
Also – New supply chain risk management platform and a DroneBase acquisition
AI Business brings you the latest in deals and products from across the AI world.
This week’s roundup covers a shakeup in AI leadership at Tesla, dead celebrities resurrected as digital twins in the metaverse and more!
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Creating digital twins of celebrities in the metaverse
A New Zealand-based company is offering celebrities the ability to preserve themselves as digital twins.
Auckland-based Soul Machines recently partnered with Nicklaus Companies to create a digital twin of golf legend Jack Nicklaus. Users can even ask him for golf tips.
'Digital Jack' can understand users' words and nonverbal communication cues. The avatar can use this user information to provide unique, personal responses that are consistent with Nicklaus' knowledge of the sport.
Soul Machines’s Digital People services are designed to interact with people online − with the company setting its sights on metaverse-related brand partnerships and sponsorships.
“Digital People give us the opportunity to change the way that fans connect with their heroes, and we can also potentially bring back celebrities and icons from the past,” Greg Cross, CEO of Soul Machines, told Variety.
The company's technology was created by its co-founder and chief science officer Mark Sagar, an Academy Award winner for the animation and motion capture technology used in films such as Avatar, King Kong and Spider-Man 2.
Tesla’s AI chief resigns
Tesla’s director of AI, Andrej Karpathy, tweeted that he has left the company. “I have no concrete plans for what’s next but look to spend more time revisiting my long-term passions around technical work in AI, open source and education.”
During his time at Tesla, he led the development of the company’s advanced driver assistance system, Autopilot. Last month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stepped up its investigation into Teslas on Autopilot crashing into first-responder vehicles stopped on our beside roads. The probe moves Tesla a step closer into being recalled.
Before announcing his decision to leave, Karpathy was on a four-month leave of absence.
His exit comes after Tesla announced it was dismissing 230 data annotation staff in its Autopilot team while also shuttering its San Mateo, California office.
Deutsche Telekom to use more Google Cloud services
Deutsche Telekom is partnering with Google Cloud, with the companies set to collaborate on cloud infrastructure and telecom data consumption.
The companies will focus their work on 5G networks deployed in Austria, as well as network and CX analytics through AI and ML.
The plan expands on the pair’s previous work which saw them build and deliver cloud services to German health care providers.
“We are excited to expand our partnership with Google Cloud by conducting trials in key areas that will allow us to more rapidly innovate and launch new services and customer experiences,” said Claudia Nemat, board member of Deutsche Telekom.
Digital twins deal
Digital twin developer Matterport has acquired VHT Studios, a U.S.-based real estate marketing company that offers brokerages and agents digital solutions to promote and sell properties.
Matterport’s acquisition of VHT Studios provides real estate brokerages access to an expanded selection of marketing services - including drone imagery, virtual tours and high-end photography.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. However, the transaction is expected to bring together VHT Studios’ visual media services with Matterport’s 3D Digital Twin platform.
Matterport said the deal will allow it to expand further into the real estate industry while adding marketing services for other sectors such as commercial real estate, travel and hospitality and the retail sector.
"We are not only excited for how we can transform the customer experience in the real estate industry but also how we can apply VHT Studios' expertise to our growing enterprise business as demand for digital twin technology continues to surge," said RJ Pittman, Matterport's CEO.
Managing supply chain risks
Cloud solutions provider Ivalua has launched a new platform for supply chain risk management.
The Release 174 platform includes AI tools for document segmentation, clause classification and metadata extraction.
The platform also has search functionality - allowing users to find legal documents and clauses quickly based on keywords, and the presence or absence of specific types of clauses.
"In today's dynamic and challenging global economy, the ability to effectively collaborate with internal stakeholders and suppliers is critical to business success," said Pascal Bensoussan, Ivalua's chief product officer. "Our new release will further boost collaboration and greatly enhance automation and efficiency.
Drone inspection acquisition
Intelligent imaging outlet DroneBase has acquired U.K.-based Inspection², a provider of AI-enabled aerial inspections.
The acquisition expands DroneBase's AI-enabled inspection capabilities across telecom and transmission and distribution. The deal will see James Harrison, CEO of Inspection², lead transmission and distribution and telecoms business units at DroneBase.
"This acquisition enables us to immediately offer expanded services to our wind and solar clients while expanding to serve the telecom industry globally," said Dan Burton, CEO and founder of DroneBase.
This is DroneBase's second acquisition in less than 12 months - last December, it purchased AirProbe, a company in India that offers AI-enabled inspections in the solar energy sector.
New defense research center in the UK
The U.K.’s Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) has created a dedicated defense AI research center.
The Defence Centre for AI Research (DCAR) will be tasked with studying potential applications for AI solutions in war gaming exercises, managing multiple sensors and ethics.
The DCAR was launched in conjunction with the Alan Turing Institute and is being funded by the Ministry of Defense's chief scientific advisor.
Whilst based in London, Turing will use its outreach to engage with universities around the country, drawing together the U.K.’s best expertise.
Between five and eight new academic posts will open up as a result of the research center starting in September – with the potential to grow further.
"The DCAR will be a center of excellence which provides real focus to developing and applying AI ethically in defense contexts," said Glen Hart, a senior principal scientist from Dstl.