Different day, different crowd : If day 1 of the LDV Vision Summit was all about science, research and data ( massive amounts of data), Day 2 opened the doors to more practical applications of visual tech, mostly around revenue. In other words, how companies are using the discoveries of researchers to extract value, information and monetary rewards. As in the previous day, panels were a flowing mix of individual presentations and group discussions. Here are some elements of day 2 which particularly caught our attention.
Opening the day and a recurrent conversation of the day was video content, its exploding consumption (84% of all internet traffic) and upcoming evolution. However, two key issues are yet unsolved, proper monetization and adequate tracking. While videos are certainly becoming the favorite visual media consumed on mobile, everyone is still trying to figure out the most effective ways to turn this audience into hard cash.
Investors took the stage a few times, putting emphasis on this issue but also on how they perceive their relationships with start-ups in the visual tech space. While a lot was said on the frictions between founders and VC’s, the main takeaway was how deeply they are interested in this space. The underlying reason for their involvement is fueled by the massive potential that visual tech offers in unlocking information never before accessible.
One good example was seen with satellite imagery. What used to take large numbers of humans to decipher, sometimes incorrectly, can now be done in minutes and at an impressive scale. Examples were shown of how satellite imagery can be used to relate in near real-time shopping patterns by analyzing parking space at shopping malls nationwide. Not only can it reveal the days, if not the hours, where traffic is the highest, but also precisely show which stores are getting the most action. Other companies, like Placemeter, can drill down this type of information on a street level by tracking how many people enter and leave stores. On a larger scale, by analyzing the shadow casts on oil refinery storage tanks, these companies can give a precise and accurate estimate of oil reserve worldwide without having to rely on sometimes flawed government data. (note: some of these presentations were on Day 1)
Key here is understanding the scope and richness of the data that can only be unleashed thanks to recent progress in computer vision. Which seemed to bother some.
Photography has always been considered a creative expression. And while the acceptance threshold of what is a creation varies by individuals, some take offense to the possibility that visual creation could one day no longer be seen as artistic creation, but just pure data feeds. The Summit also touched on that topic, thanks to a variety of presenters, like Dave Krugman, social editor at BBDO or Charles Traub, Chair, MFA Photography & Related Media at the School of Visual Arts. As one explained how leveraging the social media powers of photography via Instagram, he creates artistic communities around a visual theme, the other, along with a group of his colleagues, brought a fresh reminder that photography has a far broader reach than pure data collection and can be an extremely powerful tool for social change.
There were a few panels that touched upon quantifying emotional and visual aspect of photos and videos. Marian Stewart Bartlett, Co-Founder and Lead Scientist at Emotient , showed how facial analysis can extract the emotional state of individuals and graph the reactions of crowds in real-time. As well, Asmau Ahmed, CEO, Founder, Engineer, at Plum Perfect, showed how their app can accurately suggest to user the perfect color combination to wear, either as make-up or clothes, based on a rapid analysis of your face or clothes you are already wearing.
There is obviously a lot more that has been said of equal importance and the organizers will release some videos of the presentations before the year’s end. One major takeaway for all present at the LDV Vision Summit is the broadness of applications of the visual tech space. We are only scratching the surface of the myriads of possibilities advances in research and technology offer and we are just seeing the tip of its practical usages. There will be much more in the upcoming year and we are impatiently looking forward to the next summit.
Author: Paul Melcher
Paul Melcher is the founder of Kaptur and Managing Director of Melcher System, a consultancy for visual technology firms. He is an entrepreneur, advisor, and consultant with a rich background in visual tech, content licensing, business strategy, and technology with more than 20 years experience in developing world-renowned photo-based companies with already two successful exits.