Human-powered Avatar

Stealth Mode Startup

Human-powered Avatar

Background

A stealth mode startup was inspired to invent a new model of digital engagement that links artificial intelligence, machine learning, computer vision, and hardware to achieve a real-time realistic avatar. This solution could enable enterprise organizations to interact with people in unprecedented ways for scenarios including training and role-playing.

Facial capture that includes emotional context had been developed in Hollywood – the innovation from this startup is that the facial capture would happen in real-time. While the opportunities for film and television productions are easy to see, this client also saw a massive unmet need in the public/private domain without all the post-processing work that Hollywood spends months to create realistic avatars and scenes

facial avatar

Challenge

To render real-time facial features for the avatar, the solution needs to operate faster than real-time, but with technology this new, no one had experience building it.

There was no clear and obvious path for the technology, so the hardware and software elements needed to be designed together. Further, the final solution needed to be extremely efficient in terms of computation cycles without sacrificing quality and reliability.

This project included ingredients like intense time pressure, expertise in cutting-edge hardware and software, creating a seemingly impossible user experience that hadn’t been done before – all amidst an unparalleled job market with extraordinary competition for data scientists and engineers.

Valence was engaged because the leadership team of the digital transformation startup had heard of Valence’s reputation for technical innovation.

Valence was experienced working in uncertainty and could manage a project that demanded rapid prototyping and pristine technical delivery in an agile development environment.

“Valence demonstrated ongoing agility in the face of several unknowns and variables. It was great to work with a technology partner that didn’t require us to tell them exactly what to do and when to do it so we could be successful.”

Solution

Throughout the process, Valence’s engineering team would present concise and well-researched scientific documents that articulate architecture and engineering strategies to be considered. Then Valence would conduct an experiment, get feedback, and create work tickets to finish a set of requirements for the upcoming sprint.

The work started by testing a range of hardware and sensor approaches, while concurrently exploring ways to capture the surface textures and features of the human face in motion. The last hurdle was to process the data received from the cameras and sensors faster than real-time.

Ultimately the solution required that the hardware capture images at 60-frames-per-second so that they could be rendered and played back at 24-frames-per-second, which is the standard for video conferencing and is perceived as seamless by the human eye. The data is stored and processed on a local workstation appliance because latency and delay hazards with cloud computing introduced too much risk to performance.

Valence researched dozens of cameras and sensors before selecting Intel RealSense 3D cameras with an integrated RBG sensor, offering the highest depth and performance.

“Valence’s engineers didn’t just accept the challenge – they relished it. We needed to partner with a firm that was comfortable with the unknown, could do the necessary research, had the technical expertise to innovate, and then turn out an enterprise product – and that was Valence.” Founder, Stealth mode Startup.

“When you think about partnering with a third-party technology consultant, the relationship between engineers is especially important. Valence’s collaboration and communication were spot on and enabled our rapid integration.”

Results

As part of the solution, Valence also built a custom solution that generated unlimited synthetic data of faces for machine learning. The client, therefore, did not need to purchase annotated faces from third-party vendors, saving tens of thousands of dollars in training data.

The final real-time solution powers the startup’s avatars in a fully interactive 3D environment, with details like different lighting and shadows reflecting the choice of interior and exterior environments.

In addition to creating something that has never been done before, Valence helped the startup to effortlessly collaborate between the two teams to create an enterprise-caliber platform that was more than just a science experiment. Valence’s work has been seamlessly integrated into the startup company’s larger solution.

Valence set this startup to be able to ship V1 of its commercial avatar product to market much faster than if it tried to organically hire the right skill sets in its early stages.  

“Valence is our go-to partner for high-end innovation tackling the toughest problems. Their contributions accelerated our innovation and go-to-market.”

Immersive Technology Showcase

Fortune 10 Company

Immersive Technology Showcase

Immersive technology showcase

This global technology business serves the public sector, with federal, state, and local governments relying on its services. The business had successfully established itself as a leading productivity technology provider.

Challenge

The public sector market represents a massive opportunity for this business. The worldwide emphasis on cloud services meant that this client needed to join its peers in pivoting its business model to promote cloud services, but public sector clients struggled to make the connection between the client’s productivity offerings and its cloud services.

Solution

Our client needed to demonstrate cloud capabilities and tell a clear and compelling story to its customers.

Valence was chosen to conceptualize, design, develop, and support a live demo facilitated by technology. Valence was chosen thanks to the firm’s deep understanding of cloud technology. The demo tells the client’s story and helps to activate sales conversations between our client’s sales team and its customers.

Behind the scenes, Valence provided project management, demo curation, and technical support for an immersive experience that was spearheaded in Washington, DC and then replicated across the United States. In our role as demo facilitators, we contributed a comprehensive understanding of cloud technologies, the competitive landscape, our client’s technology offerings, and market needs.

Tour sessions serve groups of 8-10 attendees, who engage in 90-minute tours through an immersive trade-show style booth with several rooms. Each room showcases real cloud solutions impacting organizations using our client’s technology.

Results

The first round of demos delivered 101 tours reaching 602 people from 200 organizations. The combination of demos and tour facilitation drove new cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) business opportunities for our client. The success of the effort resulted in a decision to repeat this model at additional locations for expanded services.

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Artificial Intelligence and Computer Vision

Leading Orthodontics Startup

Artificial Intelligence and Computer Vision

The intersection of healthcare, dentistry, and orthodontics with technology has revolutionized to the personal wellness industry. The direct-to-consumer orthodontics industry has been particularly transformed thanks to a convergence of digital advancements. Teledentistry uses electronic information, imaging, and communication technologies to provide and support dental care delivery, diagnosis, consultation, and treatment.

Challenge

A leading consumer-facing orthodontics disruptor needed to harness technology to deliver exciting, delightful experiences to engage and convert potential customers.

Valence was engaged to design and develop a pilot marketing experience that would help potential customers to envision their smile after receiving treatment. Valence’s experience in digital retail experiences made the firm uniquely positioned to address this business need.

Solution

Valence designed and built a mobile application that allows customers to See Their New Selfie to anticipate what was possible through teledentistry. The experience included options to share their future selfie to expand the brand’s reach.

The services to deliver this highly personalized and technology-driven experience included web application design and development, and computer vision with artificial intelligence application development.  Technologies included Amazon Web Services (AWS) Lambda, API Gateway, and S3.

Results

The pilot informed the startup’s digital roadmap and received high marks from test users.

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The next step on your digital transformation starts with a conversation. Let us know how we can help you, and we’ll get back to you right away.

Voice Assistant

Innovation Lab

Voice Assistant

At Valence, we help enterprise customers understand and apply next-generation technologies in a smart and innovative way to advance business goals. We often experiment with these technologies within our own business, testing and tweaking how we design, develop, and deploy innovation. It often begins by identifying a simple challenge.

Challenge

Tracking down operational information within a company can be difficult. Whether an employee has questions about benefits, healthcare, or IT-related issues, they often spend valuable time searching through handbooks, emails, and websites to find answers.

Solution

Our innovation lab scoped this issue and created the Valence Bot.

The Valence Bot is a voice activated chatbot that uses Amazon Alexa to answer common employee questions and handle requests related to the company.

The Valence Bot was built on top of the core framework of Amazon Web Service Machine Learning using the Lex engine. After adding functionality and integration points to this framework, the Valence Bot is bundled into an Alexa private skill and deployed to employees using Alexa for Business.

Results

The Valence Bot eliminates the hassle of unnecessary maintenance tasks by providing employees instant access to information from anywhere using Alexa. Employees can now devote their time and energy to tasks that matter. Operational information, such as employee benefits, shipping information, and expense reimbursements are handled with Valence Bot. Tasks that took up internal overhead can also be addressed, such as resolving IT requests or ordering routine office supplies and equipment.

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Unified Data Governance

FORTUNE 100 TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANY

Unified Data Governance

Our client is a people-focused technology and telecommunications brand that offers a spectrum of services to a variety of industries and markets. Technology is at the heart of competitiveness for this organization.

Because of the varied services and markets, leadership must understand complex KPI data pulled from disparate sources. Decisions must be informed, confident, and efficient.

Challenge

Our client struggled to achieve a holistic view of the business across its initiatives. It was difficult to drive portfolio-wide decisions based on program data. Detailed project-based data was in disparate systems and decision makers couldn’t surface the data in a consumable way.

These challenges were holding the business back from achieving its potential.

The Solution

Valence was engaged to understand the data ecosystem within the client’s business, and to recommend a strategy for data governance and reporting. Following those recommendations, Valence was asked to implement the governance structure.

Working with the client, we were able to implement a data governance process that addressed intake, drove initiative priority scoring, provided synthesized results, and delivered guidance on overall portfolio execution approach.

This resulted in a consolidated portfolio view of both in-flight work as well as upcoming “horizon” work in which the team would invest.

Results

In addition to bringing consistency to the reported project detail, the cross-functional leadership team could now leverage data insights to provide decision support across sensitivity analysis of expected outcomes based on optional paths forward.

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The next step on your digital transformation starts with a conversation. Let us know how we can help you, and we’ll get back to you right away.