Edge AI startup Kneron today announced it has raised $40 million in a round led by Horizon Ventures. The funding will be used to grow algorithms made specifically for on-device machine learning and semiconductor design operations.
Kneron released the KL520, a chip made for deployment of AI on smart home and IoT devices last year, and showcased the KL720 at CES earlier this month.
Manufacturers increasingly demand more efficient algorithms and hardware that can deploy on-device machine learning. By making both hardware and software specifically for the edge, Kneron is seeking to differentiate itself from the competition.
“We have a reconfigurable AI engine that can simultaneously support audio, video, 2D, and 3D, and we are not only a chip company. We’re a total solution company that can provide a solution with a pertained model, so that’s almost like a turnkey solution,” Kneron CEO Albert Liu told VentureBeat in a phone interview.
Beyond deploying AI at the edge, Kneron has recently been in the news for using masks to fool facial recognition algorithms. The mask was initially made for internal tests of the company’s own software, but it was able to trick facial recognition systems for many publicly available solutions. The demonstration was intended to show the brittleness of facial recognition and how susceptible it is to bad actors and to spur the industry to do better.
Kneron will use the funding to explore communication between devices by making simple inferences to create sequential actions without the need to transmit information in the cloud.
“It’s not like we want to repress the current cloud AI solution. It’s just another solution that can compound or make your information be more private … It’s cheaper and faster because you don’t need to count on the internet delay,” Liu said.
The company has raised a total of $73 million to date, following a previous round that included investors like Qualcomm, Sequoia Capital, and Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund.
Kneron was founded in 2015 and currently has 150 employees at semiconductor operations in Taiwan and offices in San Diego, California.