Cover Story

Artificial Intelligence will shape the future

Intro: Artificial intelligence was founded as an academic discipline in 1956 since then AI techniques have experienced a resurgence following concurrent advances in computer power, large amounts of data, networking capabilities and further increase of theoretical understanding. AI techniques have become an essential part of many different industry sectors, helping to solve different challenging problems from customer satisfaction through to supporting various business goals.

Vasujit Kalia, in a tête-à-tête with Dr. Angelika Eksteen, CEO of AI Directions, talked about AI and how it can be used particularly, but not only, in healthcare.

Please introduce AI Directions

AI Directions is a Dubai based company, which was established in response to the exciting developments in Artificial Intelligence ( AI). AI Directions’ value proposition is based on the development of use cases across a number of industries. Fast and customized service delivery and proprietary methodologies developed to assist organizations to understand the strategic approaches to AI are available to support this aim.

The core staff of AI Directions brings together significant experience in research and development, technical standardization, development and implementation of national level strategies, international collaboration and consultancy. While we are technology neutral in our approach, we are also developing a set of products in the areas of pain detection, crowd monitoring and sentiment detection through the use of computer vision. We develop these products through our own network and via partnerships with research institutions in the region and international technology companies.

AI Directions’ business areas are:

  • TrainingandawarenesswithregardstoAI;
  • Assessment of AI Maturity and development of an AI Strategy;
  • Consultancyto identify opportunities and risks related to theuseof AI;
  • Provision of AI solutions for dedicated problems and customers;and
  • Provisionof IoT solutions, g. for oil and gas or smart cities.

What are the solutions that you provide, and can you elaborate them?

AIDirections’ AI Services and AI Solutions are:

AI Readiness Model:

The AI Readiness Model checks that the prerequisites for successful AI projects, namely digital transformation and data governance, are in place. This works through a selfassessment (alone or assisted) that any organization can carry out to identify their current status and to see what needs to be improved. A report provides all results and a summary highlighting the findings.

Development of an AI Strategy:

In this changing world, all organizations should have an AI Strategy to be prepared for what is coming! AI Directions supports organizations in the development of an AI Strategy; this can take place at a higher level to catch quick wins or makes use on an assessment of AI-related opportunities and risks for the organization, just whatever is preferred.

Sentiment Analysis Solution:

AI Directions’ Sentiment Analysis solution identifies the degree of customer satisfaction through the use of a normal camera. This can be used to replace the physical emoji buttons that are currently the means of identifying customer satisfaction; the AI solution provides better result s a s i t assesses all people, whereas the buttons are used more occasionally by customers.

Face Verification Solution:
Whether you wish to recognize loyal customers or to control access to areas, AI Directions’ Face Verification solution allows you to do so. For this application, we do need to have the faces of the persons in question stored to do the comparison, but this can be implemented in a way that only the machine sees the face and any humans only see the results.

Pain Detection Solution:

  • AI Directions’ Pain Detection solution detects levels of pain non-invasively, using a normal camera, to assist caretakers. There are different scenarios for the use of the Pain Detection Solution (on our web site, there are videos illustrating these cases):
  • Assisting nurses (in non-ICUs) by raising an alarm if patients pain level or other vital sign and raising above a pre-defined alarm point, therewith allowing for purposeful rounding;
  • Helping doctors to objectively assess patients’ pain levels over time;
  • Assessing the pain levels and other vital signs of outpatients, sending an alarm to the doctor if any of these levels are rising too high.

For People Flow:
In any area where lots of people come together, it is important to understand their movements – AI Directions’ People Flow solution does this. This can help to understand where there are bottlenecks in a hospital, and also – if combined with the Sentiment Analysis Solution – can give insights what certain situations do to the people in it.

What makes AI Directions different from other AI companies?

AI Directions is a UAE founded and based company – we are here when we are needed! The decision to build AI Directions in UAE was based on the fact that UAE provides an ideal environment by supporting new technologies, h av ing great inte re st in A I and important A I developments, such as the Ministry of AI.

We do not sell boxes – We strongly believe in the fact that AI solutions are not “one size fits all”, they need to be tailored for best success. Therefore, we work with our customers to first identify where AI solutions are most valuable for the business, and then integrate AI in their business processes.

The main ingredient that makes us flexible in the development approach is our flexible development framework, allowing us for rapid prototyping, development and deployment. This platform supports a range of computer vision applications, such as face verification and pain detection, but is flexible and expandable to other AI domains. It leverages industry and international standards to ensure the broadest interoperability. It can be deployed on a wide range of operating systems and platforms and is modular to allow for the deployment in many varied use cases.

By default, our services are not making use of any AI cloud services, all data stays in UAE. Should cloud solutions be required, the AI Directions

Platform can be deployed on a cloud service and consume cloud AI APIs. Platform scales from edge scenarios through to data center and (if required by a customer) cloud.

All our AI solutions can work with low or no connectivity and on relatively low compute. We can use existing cameras if they are state of the art and also integrate into your patients’ management system, or any other ERP solution that is in place. All solutions are extremely flexible regarding input and output, and entirely privacy preserving as no data leaves the premises, unless wanted.

AI Directions is a pure-play AI company, different from others that add AI to their core business.

Can you throw some light on the partnership between the SEED Group and AI Directions?

SEED Group is a diversified Group operating in industries including technology, healthcare, tourism & hospitality, and real estate. Since its conceptualization in 2000, the group has transformed into a front-runner in multiple business sectors. Our greatest strength lies in forming strategic partnerships with organizations looking to establish a strong presence in the GCC.
AI Directions decided to partner with SEED Group to benefit from their extensive knowledge and invaluable expertise of the MENA business landscape, and to explore opportunities of collaboration with other partners of SEED Group.

What is the cost involved in it these solutions?

We are price competitive because of the networked competence model where we work with highly qualified development resources in South Africa and partner with even some of our competitors to deliver solutions.
Details about the pricing relate to the type of solution employed, whether it is a purchase or subscription- based, how many instances of the solution are employed, how much adaptation is needed, etc. Please contact us if you need to know more.

How do you foresee the popularity of AI in the coming years?

AI will have a significant impact all sorts of businesses, as the infographic provided by McKinsey illustrates:

Therefore, we do believe that AI will get more & more popular in its different applications over the coming years.

What are your expansion plans?

While our current solutions are already good in detecting pain and vital signs, such as heart rate, we plan to enhance the accuracy of these solutions, and to include SPOx using only normal cameras. In addition, we will use radar-and visual fusion-based solutions to enhance the vital signs detection. We are also exploring the use of near-infrared in areas such as hypoglycemia detection.
AI Directions is also in the process to add more data science into their solutions to enhance the flexibility and breadth of applications.