The Kyiv (Kiev)-based firm Zpoken has developed an experimental system, called Minect.ai, to detect landmines and other projectiles utilizing neural networks. It can process in real-time visual data streams from multiple sources including drones, robots and smartphones to recognize and pinpoint the location of landmines.
“We participated in a military and defense exhibition here in Kyiv, and one of the military approached us and asked for an AI method that could be used for clearance of territories covered with landmines,” said Zpoken CEO Anton Gera.
“We thought that this would be a very interesting challenge for us so we came out with a solution and offered it to the Ministry of Defense,” he added.
A more efficient and economical landmine clearance solution is of particular interest to the Ukrainian government given the current tensions in Eastern Ukraine.
To continue its work on the system, the Ukrainian startup company received a grant of 500,000 hryvnias (slightly more than $20,000 at the current exchange rate) from the Ministry of Economic Development’s Foundation for Support of Inventions.
The ministry did not directly allocate actual funds to Zpoken, but is facilitating the ability to pay for its services for the full value of the grant amount through the government electronic procurement system Prozorro via signed agreements with actual contractors.
Minect.ai is not Zpoken’s only product. Gera originally founded the company in January 2017 under the brand ‘Anryze.’ Its early focus was AI powered analytics, security and anti-fraud solutions. Anryze was rebranded as Zpoken in 2019. Gera now characterizes his firm as a data science company.
In June 2017, Gera participated in a pitch night held by Razom IT in New York City with his first Anryze product, which was an AI-powered tracking service for business calls with analytics to improve communications. In September 2017, the company conducted a one-month cryptocurrency ICO that yielded $1.7 million to help fund product development and marketing activity.
Zpoken today offers several other products featuring speech-to-text transcription, facial recognition and emotional and semantic analysis. The company has about 20 staff members.
Gera says that his biggest mistake with the company early on was to try to do too many things. “We had a lot of products. A lot of products that we eventually had to shut down because we couldn’t deal with them all. And that was my basic problem.”
While continuing to explore new product research and development, the Zpoken senior executive plans to focus his commercial efforts on a few good products that can make the company a global success.
- Click here listen to an interview with Zpoken CEO Anton Gera.