The Three Aha Moments that Launched Deep Sentinel

by | Oct 25, 2017

Deep Sentinel Co-Founder & CEO, David Selinger explains how Deep Sentinel came to conception:

After nine years at the helm of RichRelevance–an Artificial Intelligence (AI) company focused on personalizing the online shopping experience–I was ready to return to my roots building technology and focusing on the next generation of AI and robotics. I hadn’t settled on an exact field, but in Lux Capital I had found the perfect partner with whom to explore opportunities and ideas. Lux invests in emerging science and tech on the cutting edge, oftentimes even before a business case is proven. As a VC having mostly PhDs as partners, they can walk the walk. While meeting and exchanging ideas with the folks at Lux, I happened on deep neural networks–known many decades ago as multi-layer perceptron networks–which led to my first “aha” moment in the founding of Deep Sentinel.

Aha #1: Deep neural network technology has finally come of age after decades of false alarms…and it’s the single largest technology leap forward I’ll see in my lifetime.

When I realized that the buzz out of Google on “deep learning” was real, I was blown away; most “AI” hype is marketing hullabaloo. Deep Learning is anything but that. Originally conceptualized in the ‘90s, we didn’t have the underlying technology to make deep neural networks work back then. But today, with a series of leaps forward in technology, deep-learning powered machines can learn abstractions that until now have been the exclusive domain of human beings. You already encounter this when Facebook automatically tags your friends, but deep neural networks can do so much more–even things like  restoringcolor in black-and-white photos, or synthesizing audio with lip motions in videos. A combination of underlying technology and statistical method improvements led me to the conclusion that deep learning will be the single largest AI leap forward I expect to witness in my lifetime.

Aha #2: In today’s home security market, “advanced technology” is still a euphemism for wireless sensors and megapixels.

The next “aha” moment occurred not long after a burglary took place in my neighborhood. As a result of this crime, I researched home security systems, and I was frankly appalled by what I found. “Advanced technology” in the legacy world of home security was basically a euphemism for wireless sensors and megapixels!

Just picture the ADT technician in my home, excitedly demonstrating their “advanced technology” by highlighting an LCD screen, keypad and wireless sensors. This “Back to the Future” moment felt like I had been dropped into an ‘80s TV infomercial.

And that’s when the final “aha” came.

Aha #3: Deep neural networks can recast and solve today’s legacy home security problem.

My research into deep neural networks and the underwhelming state of the so-called “home security” market catalyzed my final aha moment. Ninety-nine percent of crimes occur after the intruder has crossed the property perimeter. If we could use AI to cost-effectively detect and evaluate threats at this crucial juncture, we could tilt the advantage from criminals to homeowners–creating a new class of home security solutions. Using real-time AI, imagine activating warnings in the form of sound or light to deter criminal activity within seconds, instead of just recording it to review tomorrow over a frustrated shout of “DID YOU SEE THAT!” or a “STOP, no, I wish I could go back in time!”

Much like when I co-founded Redfin, I see the opportunity for technology to transform the fundamental expectations of a market. At Redfin, interactive mapping, UX and transparency of data (i.e., Big Data) revolutionized the real estate industry by starting with the consumer. Similarly, at Deep Sentinel I see deep neural networks and computer vision transforming every consumer’s expectation of a true sense of home security.

Many aha moments later, Deep Sentinel is one year in and up and running. After testing many prototypes with off-the-shelf cameras and getting a series of AI clusters going, we remain fueled by that same founding vision of using AI to keep the bad guys away from people’s homes. We’re blessed with the support of great investors like Jeff Bezos, Pierre Omidyar, Lux Capital and Shasta, as we continue to build our team of deep learning computer vision and hardware experts. We hope you’ll follow along, and share in this journey with us!

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