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To cap off two days of AI panels, discussions, fireside chats, and networking at Transform 2019, VentureBeat today presented the AI Innovation Awards. These awards honor emergent, compelling, and influential work in AI drawn from our daily editorial coverage. We take pride in shining a light on innovation, and the VentureBeat AI Innovation Awards, presented by Ople, give us a chance to do so in a new way.

Ople’s mission is to make AI ubiquitous,” said founder and CEO Pedro Alves. “We want everyone in every business to harness the power of AI and get more from the data. In order to achieve our mission, it’s important to acknowledge other innovators in the field to learn from each other to build a stronger community and a better world. That’s why we wanted to participate in AI Innovation Awards; to congratulate and bring awareness to fellow AI innovators.”

The awards are in the categories of NLP/NLU, Computer Vision, Business Application, Startup Spotlight, and AI for Good. There were four nominees in each of the five categories, encompassing truly superb intelligence, innovation, and achievement.

And the winners are …

NLP/NLU Innovation: Corti


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Denmark-based Corti describes itself as “artificial intelligence with a purpose,” namely, to help emergency call operators determine whether a call involves a cardiac event. Using pattern recognition with words and tone of voice, Corti says it is significantly more accurate than human operators at identifying such emergencies, and can do so 30 seconds faster.

Computer Vision Innovation:

Instead of a shopkeeper helping you pick out clothes while you spend hours twirling in front of a mirror, uses image recognition and data to do it all with AI. offers a host of personalization tools and serves as a starting point for retailers that are eager to incorporate AI but unsure where to begin.

Business Application: Bossa Nova

Bossa Nova may be an unusual name for an AI company, but its robots have danced their way into retail stores — as workers, not products. They roam store aisles and use computer vision and facial recognition software, with RGB photos and point clouds, to perform inventory management. The boxy robots are already deployed in dozens of Walmart stores, and by last year they had traversed some 7,000 miles, 0.4 MPH at a time.

Startup Spotlight: Xnor has largely flown under the radar, but the startup’s edge solutions are compelling. The company wants to prove that you can get strong deep learning performance on the edge with extremely low-power and inexpensive devices — reflective of its “AI everywhere, on every device” mantra. Xnor’s AI2Go platform is designed to offer optimized, prebuilt models for on-device AI, or for developers interested in creating their own.

AI for Good: Joy Buolamwini, Timnit Gebru, and Inioluwa Raji

The ethical and technical issues around facial recognition software continue to spark heated debate. Joy Buolamwini, Timnit Gebru, and Inioluwa Raji have focused in particular on the significant problem of algorithmic bias in identifying gender and people with darker skin — concerns detailed in a study of Amazon’s Rekognition. Amazon pushed back against the accuracy of the study, but the researchers have found support from dozens of AI experts.

We congratulate these winners, and all the nominees for their important contributions to the field of AI! 

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