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.”

Data Strategy, Web Application, and Recommendation Engine

Fortune 1000 Healthcare Company

Data Strategy, Web Application, and Recommendation Engine

Challenge

Hospital administrators and staff are under intense pressure to optimize performance within facilities while delivering best-in-class care to patients. This highly regulated industry has an abundance of data, but it’s often collected and managed in disparate systems by people with ranging levels of proficiency.

One opportunity to improve hospital efficiency is to optimize the scheduling of operating rooms, surgical procedures, and services.

We were approached by an advanced SaaS-based healthcare data analytics company that needed to use existing data feeds to improve the scheduling of operations for a hospital that used its systems. Because of the sensitive nature of EHR data, security was a priority.

business process management
business partners shake hands at the talks near the round table .the concept of partnership

Solution

Valence delivered a web application including a scheduling recommendation engine. On the back-end, the web application relied on a Paas-based solution that analyzed trends using artificial intelligence.

First, we transformed and normalized the hospital’s robust pipeline of raw and structured EHR data. Using that data, we developed a recommendation engine that prompts hospital staff to take actions based on key data indicators.

Then we designed and developed a custom web-app to present and manipulate data, including the scheduling recommendations.

recommendation engine

Results

The solution provided hospital staff with a decision support tool capable of improving room scheduling and revealed trends and opportunities for efficiency over time. These improvements resulted in improved patient care and hospital efficiency.

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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Cloud Enablement and Machine Learning

Fortune 500 Insurance Company

Cloud Enablement and Machine Learning

Insurance companies rely on extensive historical data to predict and manage risk and establish rates. Historical data is becoming less reliable as insurance companies face simultaneous challenges of escalating climate change risks and shifting industry regulations.

Challenge

A prominent insurance company approached Valence seeking a way to better predict and plan for weather disasters. Doing so would help improve its risk models and allow more accurate premiums for policy holders. Given the unpredictable nature of many weather events, a solution that gave real-time information about whether a weather event had occurred or was about to occur was important.

Solution

Valence was engaged to develop a pilot solution using cloud-based machine learning and IoT devices to identify weather events and notify the client in real-time. We trained the machines to recognize sounds picked up by IoT devices at weather ground stations, using 10,000 audio seed files.

Results

With our algorithms and AI process, we could train the machines to recognize 12 unique types of weather events, including metrics tracking the severity of the events.

The pilot included placing 500 devices with machine learning modes at strategically selected locations nationwide. The input from the devices was found to be 85% accurate in the initial pilot.  The pilot informed future strategies for the insurance company and contributed to the technology development roadmap.


Contact Us

Let’s Connect

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.