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Twitter acquires 'visual intelligence technology' startup Madbits

updated 06:48 pm EDT, Wed July 30, 2014

Company prototyped several types of apps, decided to take system to Twitter

Madbits, a startup company founded by Clément Farabet and Louis-Alexandre Etezad-Heydari, announced this week that they are taking their technology to Twitter. The company was focused on making computers learn through the use of artificial intelligence, specifically "deep learning" as it readied for a public launch. Details of the deal have not been shared by either company.

In a post on the company's website from Monday, the team says that the course of its development lead it to teaming up with Twitter. Citing a like-minded "ambitions and vision," the company believes that the social media company will help "scale the technology."

"Over this past year, we've built visual intelligence technology that automatically understands, organizes and extracts relevant information from raw media," said Madbits. "Understanding the content of an image, whether or not there are tags associated with that image, is a complex challenge. We developed our technology based on 'deep learning,' an approach to statistical machine learning that involves stacking simple projections to form powerful hierarchical models of a signal."

Details are slim on what the image technology actually is, or how far along it is in development. According to the company's LinkedIn profile, it was involved in media experiences as they pertained to video and images. The primary interest of Madbits was image search, including the ability to create "intelligent, dynamic image sets, to automatically organize large databases of images."

A cached page from January indicates that Madbits was working on a platform called CKOiA, which would allow a new level of interaction with images. The platform was said to use machine intelligence to adapt to user input. Madbits previously released at least two applications, Momentsia and ISIT. Momentsia allowed iOS users to create collages out of existing photos in the library or from new photos. ISIT appeared to be tied to photo streams in Instagram. Both apps no longer appear on the iOS store.

Twitter is the latest company to dive into "deep learning," as some companies like Google and Facebook have already made investments into the technology. With the number of images that appear on the micro-blogging site, along with Vines, Twitter could potentially have a quantifiable use for the technology.

Both founders of Madbits were students of Yann LeCun at New York University. LeCun now leads Facebook's artificial intelligence research laboratory in New York.

by MacNN Staff



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