Billions of photos are taken every single day, on smartphones, digital cameras and professional DSLRs. But what if those images could be read and analysed for insights into behaviour?
Israeli startup Pixoneye thinks this is the key to understanding much of human behavior, and has developed and entire web-based platform around reading images using machine learning.
Pixoneye's platform analyses the content of images in a smartphone's gallery, but does not infringe on privacy or send any identifying data to any company that is using Pixoneye for insights. CEO Ofri Ben Porat told me that the companies and brands using Pixoneye only get data that covers large numbers of users, such as "20,000 users of your app have a dog," or "5,000 users like cats."
He also told me that the reason Pixoneye analyses images from a phone's gallery is because the images people put on social media are skewed -- they are the "best images of themselves, showing themselves in the best light," said Ben Porat. But in a smartphone gallery, photos are taken purely to preserve and remember the moment, without the intention of showing it to the world, giving a much more accurate definition of each individual user.
Left: Pixoneye co-founders Nadav Tal-Israel (left) and Ofri Ben Porat (right). Right: Tal-Israel and Ben Porat with the Pixoneye London team. Click images to enlarge.
The potential of this kind of product is clear when you consider how important data is to the technology industry. If brands and companies know, at large, what their users like and do -- if you take a picture of something, it's likely you want to remember it for later -- those brands can better align their products to their users' needs. (See 'Data Is the New Oil' – Red Sift Founder Rahul Powar.)
Pixoneye was founded in September 2014 by Ben Porat and CTO Nadav Tal-Israel. The company's research and development base is in Tel Aviv, Israel, while the commercial HQ is in London, at Telefonica's Wayra startup accelerator offices, where Ben Porat is now based. Tal-Israel was previously a computer vision engineer at various companies, including Samsung, while Ben Porat was formerly a Senior Strategic Adviser to the Israeli Minister of Tourism.
The two met and formed Pixoneye when they realised the images on people's phones could be of great analytical benefit. They founded the firm in Israel, and came across London-based accelerator Collider at WebSummit 2014. After pitching, they were accepted into the programme and provided with seed funding, with Ben Porat moving to London to start the commercial HQ, with Tal-Israel staying in Israel to focus on the product.