Edge Startup of the Year CxO Interviews: Anders Hardebring, CEO and Co-Founder Imagimob AB
In the lead up to the presentation of the Edge Startup of the Year Award at Edge Computing World, we’re taking some time to get to know the leaders of each of the ten Finalists. Today we are talking with Ander Hardbring, CEO & Co-Founder of Swedish Startup Imagimob AB, about all things edge computing:
Hi Anders ! Tell us a bit about yourself – what led you to get involved in the edge computing market?
My involvement in the edge computing market actually started long before the term “edge computing” even existed. In the late 90s, I headed up global sales at a Swedish company called Across Wireless, and we invented a way to run small applications on a SIM card. The SIM card was actually an edge computing platform, but with very little computing power. This was during the years when there was a lot of hype about mobile internet and the market was crazy. We did a billion dollar exit in April 2000.
In 2013, I met my Imagimob co-founders Alexander Samuelsson and Tony Hartley. We realized that we shared a common vision about connected and intelligent devices, and that the time was right to start a company that could address this huge market.
What is it you & your company are uniquely bringing to the edge market?
We’ve been doing Edge AI customer projects with both large corporations and small startups since 2015, so we have a considerable amount of experience and expertise in this area. Using internal versions of Imagimob AI, we’ve carried out more than 20 Edge AI customer projects, including projects with large corporations such as Scania, Husqvarna, Autoliv, and Flir Systems. We’ve also helped customers take their products to market. The Bellpal fall detection watch (www.bellpal.com) has been commercially available on the US market since 2019, and more products will hit the market soon. Combining all this experience with our product vision, along with customer requirements, is what has enabled us to finalize Imagimob AI—the SaaS solution we are now offering to the edge market.
Imagimob AI is a SaaS solution for the end-to-end development of Edge AI applications for consumer and industry applications. Some great examples of Imagimob AI in action are the Bellpal watch, just mentioned, with fall detection for the elderly, gesture-controlled headphones with an Acconeer radar sensor, the Scania C-Me vest which enhances truck driver safety, and various other solutions we’ve built for anomaly detection in the industry.
Our solution appeals to professional developers and enterprises that are developing intelligent products or want to add intelligence to existing products. We want to empower domain experts, data scientists, machine learning experts, and embedded experts with a powerful solution that allows them to target Edge devices while maintaining focus on their core expertise and staying productive.
Compared to the competitor products we’ve found on the market, Imagimob AI is more configurable and allows more advanced AI models to be built. Developers can add their own preprocessing and custom AI models to squeeze out the extra performance needed to go from proof-of-concept to a real product.
Imagimob AI allows for the development of highly efficient AI applications that run on low power hardware, Arm Cortex M0 or higher, with a RAM memory size as low as 10 kB—an area we know we are very competitive in. This means that intelligence can be added to any product containing sensors, enabling the product to make sense of the world around it and act accordingly.
Tell us more about the company, for instance how long has the company been going, who is involved, and what are your major milestones?
Imagimob was founded in 2013 by Tony Hartley, Alexander Samuelsson, and Anders Hardebring. We anticipated that there would be a huge market for connected and intelligent devices, and one of our first projects was in the area of human motion using accelerometers and gyroscopes. In 2015, we raised our first round of funding and from that point we started focusing more of our work on our product. In 2015, we got our first large project with a large Swedish corporation in the industrial sector. The project report we wrote for them highlighted the value of Edge AI, and if you read the report today it still holds true.
We’ve exhibited at CES in Las Vegas twice. In 2017, we demonstrated an intelligent steering wheel together with Autoliv, and in 2020, we demonstrated gesture-controlled headphones together with the radar technology company Acconeer. Both CES events have been very important for us. At CES 2021 (the all digital event), we are planning to demonstrate a working prototype of gesture-controlled, in-ear headphones.
In April 2020, we signed our first commercial contracts for Imagimob AI SaaS with two large customers, and they are already up and running. Imagimob AI will be commercially available on the market on September 7.
How do you see the edge market developing over the next few years?
There have been a lot of developments among tech companies over the last six months and we expect that to continue. The market will mature and grow quickly and the competition is heating up. It still takes time for large corporations to bring their products to market, especially now during the Corona pandemic, but I am sure that will improve significantly in the near term.
If we allow ourselves to focus on the AI side of this market, we believe that many of the AI applications currently running in the cloud can be deployed on the edge already now. With coming advancements in the computational capabilities of edge devices, almost every kind of AI application that runs in the cloud today will be able to run on the edge. This opens up a world where any sensor can be intelligent, understanding the world around it. Having the intelligence deployed right next to the sensor will remove latency, improve privacy, increase battery life, enable better interactions between humans and machines, and make for better products. More interestingly, it will enable completely new applications—which we can’t even imagine, yet.
Don’t Miss the Award Announcement at Edge Computing World during the FREE-to-attend Keynotes on Tuesday, October 13th. The Announcement of the 2020 Edge Startup of the Year Winner will be the culmination of a special feature Keynote on that day, which includes the final pitch off of all 10 Edge Startup of the Year Finalists, and a live interview with leading Edge Investor Lip-Bu Tan, CEO, Cadence Design Systems, & Chairman, Waden International, discussing the edge investment space.