With the knowledge that advanced technology stuck in labs is next to useless if not utilized for commercial use, Singapore-based Exploit Technologies – the technology transfer arm of Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) – last week signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Asia News Network (ANN) to collaborate on projects and solutions built for the media and advertising industries. As part of the agreement, Exploit Technologies will work together with ANN, a network of national daily newspapers published in Asian cities, on various initiatives covering joint technology development, exchange of technological information, as well as on marketing campaigns.
Key technology areas covered include human language (speech and text) processing, mobile imaging, video processing and analytics. This agreement hope to build a business and technology ecosystem around the media and advertising sectors and to grow more successes along the lines of A*STAR start-up Knorex. Knorex developed iSnap, an augmented reality application that has been implemented across eight major regional newspapers: Thailand’s The Nation, Malaysia’s The Star, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Indonesia’s Jakarta Post and Kompas, Myanmar’s Eleven, Singapore’s The Edge and Hong Kong’s China Daily. The solution has been helping major regional publications gain reader engagement and tune content, and its smartphone-driven solution enables newspaper readers to scan editorial and advertisements in iSnap-enabled newspapers to get extra content, such as 3-D images, video clips, photo galleries, product catalogs and contest forms, on their devices. As a result, iSnap-enabled newspapers have all seen mobile app downloads and usage jump by over 100 percent in under three months from their respective launches. These newspapers have also generated new sources of revenue that amount to over S$3 million in total to date.
“Media owners and news organizations have expressed the need to more accurately target and profile users, to develop and deliver rich content with more speed and efficiency and to optimize delivery of content – hence our focus on human language processing, mobile imaging, video processing and analytics,” said Lee Han Boon, senior vice president at Exploit Technologies. “With new business models comes the need for new technologies. Exploit Technologies has been working with A*STAR Research Institutes and partner organizations to develop portfolios of enabling technologies to help strengthen the sector’s competitiveness. As A*STAR’s technology transfer arm, we then work with licensees on commercializing the most promising research outcomes and bringing them to the marketplace – much like what we’ve done with Knorex.”
“Industry input is key in helping the research community decide where to invest their resources, thus bridging the gap between science and commercial needs,” added Mr Philip Lim, CEO of Exploit Technologies.
Other technologies showcased during the announcement include:
MIMAS: An on-device advanced mobile image recognition and augmented reality technology platform that does not require an Internet connection. It recognizes the content of the image or scene using patent-pending image recognition methods and returns the relevant information in an augmented reality view on mobile phones and tablets. MIMAS is faster and uses less memory in recognising images and provides more accurate view tracking for image/video overlays when the mobile device is moved or rotated, compared to what is currently available. Sidestepping latency and stability issues caused by patchy mobile and Internet connections, MIMAS enables developers to create apps that can truly be used anytime, anywhere.
ARISE Entity Search Engine: Current search engines such as Google and Bing organize information in terms of keywords and documents, rather than via deeper understanding or context. This means users not only need to formulate queries carefully and manually identify correct search results, they often need to go through multiple pages of information to get what they are looking for. ARISE’s Entity search engine aims to take search beyond mere web pages. It also picks up disparate forms of information from online media including blogs, social networks, restaurant web sites and more. It then presents the information in a coherent, easy-to-read format.
Video Cutout: By automatically segmenting its “foreground layer” from a live VGA or HD video stream in real time using only a single webcam and a standard desktop or laptop computer, Video Cutout enables content developers to change backdrops or get rid of distracting backgrounds quickly when shooting an interview or video for example. While humans differentiate easily between a subject in the foreground and “noise” in the background, it is challenging to automate such a task with computer algorithms – thus making such content-editing a time-consuming process. With Video Cutout, this process is automated, which means content developers can now perform these edits speedily and efficiently.
Magic Touch: Magic Touch is a portfolio of advanced image/video manipulation technologies that enable easy creation of fun and eye-catching effects from photos and short video clips on smartphones. Publishers and advertisers can create quick content for eye-catching mobile and online advertisements without having to invest in expensive content authoring tools.
[Image credit: Exploit Technologies, A*STAR]