Cities traditionally inspect the state of public spaces, objects and surfaces such as roads or harbors simply by looking around. BrainCreators wants to automate such inspections with the help of AI. ‘Automating inspections will lead to reduced costs and improved safety, consistency and efficiency’, CEO and co-founder Jasper Wognum says.
BrainCreators was founded in 2016 by Wognum and his business partners Gerbert Kaandorp and Peter Eijk. Wognum: ‘All three of us studied artificial intelligence at the University of Amsterdam. So we’ve known each other for a long time.’
They reunited in 2012 to found LookLive. This company offered an AI tool that recognized the clothing of celebrities and then showed the users where to buy them. A day after they sold LookLive, the trio founded BrainCreators. Marco de Pater (CFOO) and Glenn Brouwer (CRO) also joined later on.
Looking for skilled employees
BrainCreators has two offices in Amsterdam: one at the Science Park and one on the Moermanskkade. The company has about 40 employees, but Wognum hopes to double this number this year. ‘We are looking for people with extensive experience in computer vision and deep learning’, he says. ‘Of course there aren’t that many because it is a relatively young field. But it is important to us because of our growth ambition.’ According to Wognum, working at BrainCreators is very attractive because people are given a lot of freedom in how they solve things: ‘In addition, you won’t have to work as a consultant for a specific customer. Instead, you will work within a team on the best solution we can offer to a lot of customers.’
Wognum elaborates on BrainCreators’ activities: ‘We create digital inspectors. We do this wherever people inspect something using their eyes.’ A security officer for example, who monitors movements at an airport. Or a harbor master who watches what comes in and goes out.’ But the company does not solely focus on movements; they also digitalize the inspection of objects and surfaces. ‘Think of road surfaces, floor covering or steel’, explains Wognum. ‘These inspections are normally done with the bare eye or by hand. We offer automated solutions for this kind of work.’
Braincreators is mainly active in the fields of infrastructure, buildings and public spaces such as airports. ‘But we also work within the production environments themselves, such as factories and recycling companies. So we are very much present in the physical world.’ Wognum tells a bit more about the AI technology being used: ‘We often use a combination of computer vision methods and deep learning to be able to recognize things. The basis is always images or video.’
Working end product
Unique to BrainCreators’ working method is the fact that they focus on a fully functioning end product. ‘There are many proof of concepts, pilots and models out there. But there are only a few companies that make these into usable products. We aim to create products which can be used immediately in daily practice.’ Those end products are then sold on a large scale. ‘Take road surfaces, for example’, Wognum says. ‘Roads are everywhere and are as such are very scalable. We are therefore getting more and more international customers. From Australia for instance, and America, Columbia and India. We want to develop products that work all over the world.’
BrainCreators is always looking for scalable solutions in the tangible market of mobility and public spaces. Entering into partnerships is a key aspect in this regard. Wognum: ‘We always work in partnerships. We create a new product together with a domain partner. An example of such a product is Inspech, a digital road inspector. We made this in collaboration with Strukton’s daughter company Unihorn. And in collaboration with Bosch, we have created a crowd inspection product that is deployed at Schiphol Airport.’
As mentioned earlier, the end products that are created in collaboration with partners are sold on a large scale as a complete (SaaS) solution. ‘We are therefore limiting these partnerships to those that we think have real future scaling potential’, Wognum emphasizes. ‘Customers of the end products are, for instance, other airports or public areas. Clients who use Inspech are construction companies, provinces or municipalities.’
Just like any other company, BrainCreators encounters certain challenges. Wognum explains: ‘Everyone is talking about AI, but there are very few people who can really make it concrete. This means that there is a lot of confusion surrounding what is possible and what is not. When it comes to AI, it usually turns into a long and complicated story. Because of this, there are many doubts.’ According to Wognum, this confusion and uncertainty can be avoided by bringing a fully working product to the market. ‘There is a lot of distracting noise now because the discussion quickly becomes about innovation and new technology. The challenge is to get over that and just say: look, this is the product and this is how it works.’