In the past few years, the market for artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies has gained strong momentum. What's interesting, though, is that the much of the innovation in this space is driven by disruptors, not legacy vendors.
These 'upstarts' are companies born in the internet age or companies that have transitioned into the AI market, and are building out useful AI products that will likely broaden in their impact over time. Much like how Amazon Web Services (AWS) became the infrastructure provider of choice for many companies with the rise of the public cloud, many of these upstarts will see their products widen in application.
While many of these companies might have originally created their product for a specific use case, it's possible that they will grow into platforms on which the company may build an additional revenue stream. Here are five upstart companies that are pioneering the use of AI and machine learning in their businesses.
It's no secret that Uber considers itself more of a software and technology company than one that merely schedules rides. A big part of that identity is a heavy reliance on machine learning and artificial intelligence. In fact, Uber's head of machine learning, Danny Lange, spoke at the Applied Artificial Intelligence Conference this summer.
The amount of data produced by a company like Uber is huge, and machine learning helps executives to leverage that data for business value. Uber isn't extremely open about how it uses the technology, but it likely helps with their logistics and many other aspects of the business.
"They can mine all that data to figure out how to retain their customers, how to increase the value that the customers are getting, how to prevent churn," said Kalyan Veeramachaneni, principal research scientist at MIT's Institute for Data, Systems and Society.
Additionally, as 451 Research analyst Nick Patience noted, Uber's use of machine learning will likely expand as it continues to invest in autonomous vehicles.
"That's because autonomous vehicles require the ability to be constantly learning about their environment, be it the roads, people, other vehicles, the weather, etcetera," Patience said. "This would be impossible to achieve if this all had to be hand-coded into the application; it can only be done with the applications learning about their environment themselves and adapting to it."
In MIT's ranking of the World's 13 Smartest Artificial Intelligence Companies, electric automaker Tesla came in at number two, behind China's Baidu. Primarily, Tesla uses machine learning to collect data from all of its cars on the road, and then uses this data to build better performance into its Autopilot feature. Tesla CEO Elon Musk claims that using the Autopilot feature reduces accidents by 50 percent.
Much of this was detailed in a September blog post from Tesla, which explained how the company is now using radar as a primary control sensor, with cameras and additional technology as supplements. However, AI comes into play in helping the car more clearly understand the objects in its way.