Kairos buys Limerick’s EmotionReader to make facial recognition diverse

17 Jul 2018

EmotionReader’s technology in action. Image: EmotionReader

Kairos snaps up EmotionReader, which can scan faces in a crowd and tell how audiences are reacting.

EmotionReader, an Enterprise Ireland-backed facial recognition start-up, has been acquired by Miami-based Kairos in an undisclosed “multimillion-dollar” deal.

EmotionReader’s platform records consumer reactions to on-screen video at scale, anywhere in the world, using webcams. Artificial intelligence (AI) then analyses viewer attention and emotional response, enabling media and brand owners to collect actionable insights and analytics for video.

‘In our mission to fix biases in today’s face recognition algorithms, we’re thrilled to welcome to Kairos some of the best deep-learning talent in the world’

The company is the brainchild of Dr Padraig O’Leary and Dr Stephen Moore, and it was founded only last year.

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Moore, working from his Singapore base, is understood to have built an impressive R&D team in the south-east Asian country.

“The EmotionReader team is looking forward to working with Kairos to make state-of-the-art in face recognition accessible to all. EmotionReader’s technology is a perfect fit for the Kairos platform,” said Moore.

“I believe with recent advances in AI and deep learning, we’re at a tipping point where AI will change the lives of millions of people for the better. Kairos is perfectly placed to make this a reality and do it in a socially responsible way to benefit all.”

As part of the multimillion-dollar deal, Kairos will consolidate its R&D team into a new Singapore office led by Moore, taking advantage of the region’s AI talent and giving it a platform for an upcoming APAC expansion.

“With EmotionReader’s research team on board, Kairos will be working hard to push the limits of current face recognition systems to be more accurate in real-world conditions. Specifically, in optimising the algorithms to work without bias on all races, ethnicities, genders and ages of faces,” said Ben Virdee-Chapman, chief design officer and head of product at Kairos.

“And, as face recognition systems are adopted for new use cases, potential IP opportunities will be a focus to cement Kairos as a leader in this space, including diversity of algorithms, automatic learning faces template as faces change over time (eg ageing) plus offering anti-spoofing solutions for our customers.”

Moore is an alumnus of the University of Limerick and was CTO of facial recognition technology company IMRSV, which Kairos acquired in 2015.

O’Leary was previously CTO of cloud platform TruePivot and a researcher at the Science Foundation Ireland-funded Lero centre in Limerick. He also held senior research positions at the University of Adelaide and the Applied Research for Connected Health centre in Dublin.

“In our mission to fix biases in today’s face recognition algorithms, we’re thrilled to welcome to Kairos some of the best deep-learning talent in the world,” said Brian Brackeen, CEO of Kairos.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years