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March 23, 2017
You may not believe this, but a lot of companies still have boxes upon boxes of paper, and they're paying a lot of money to store these boxes full of paper in massive warehouses. Not only is this a blatant waste of cash, it's also a huge strain on the environment. This is where Ripcord comes in. This may sound like a sales pitch, but its use of AI to solve such a mundane problem is really quite interesting.
They've developed an AI robot which is capable of sorting through different types of paper. No matter what 'A' size your paper is, or even whether the papers have been attached with staples, Ripcord's robot can sort through it all and then scan your documents and send them to the cloud, ready for when you need them.
Their advert sells Ripcord as, "the world's first robotic digitisation company." However, it the sophisticated AI behind the boxy looking robot - it's not one of those sexy-looking AI robots I'm afraid - that really interests us. “[Ripcord’s] machine can handle mixed content from the size of a business card to a legal sized sheet, and it can go from rice paper all the way up to the thickness of card stock without changing anything,” said Ripcord's CEO and founder Alex Fielding says (via The Verge).
Ripcord was backed by Steve Wozniak (of Apple fame) and venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers. If the adverts and Fielding are to be believed, this AI robot may have the potential to revolutionise the storing industry. However, it's not like they're the only ones who offer this sort of service. Companies like Kodak and Xerox do make scanners that are built to do a similar task, however, their products aren't designed to sort through documents and remove any staples themselves. Their systems requires humans to do those tasks.
“They’re building machines that are perfectly designed for uniform content but horrible for the plethora of craziness that comes when you open the lid of a bankers box. Everyone packs those things completely different,” said Fielding.
“It’s like they expect that as soon as it comes out of the printer it goes in a scanner, and that’s just not the reality.”
But how much does an AI robot like Ripcord cost? “We charge per record image in the cloud per month,” Fielding says. “We don’t charge for the rest of the things competitors charge for, like picking up or moving boxes, digitization, shredding it, storage. Just the access.” If Fielding is able to scale this business model accordingly, he could be look at taking a significant cut out of the storage market. Storage companies must be looking at technology like this with trepidation.
“If you think about it, we’re talking about really advanced sensors and optics, machine-vision driven robots, a host of different sensor technologies,” said Fielding. “It’s almost the exact same technology for self-driving cars or drones, we’re just applying it to finding staples on a page.”
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