RAD alumnus on Forbes 30under30 list

It is great to see former RAD student, Alesis Novik, and his colleague (also former Informatics student) Andrius Sutas feature the Forbes 30under30 list for Europe, for the work they are doing in their startup company, AimBrain. Incidentally, their lead scientist, Stathis Vafeias is also a RAD alumnus, so all the more reason we are rooting for their success!

As the Forbes description says, their “tech combines voice, facial and behavioral biometrics, combined with a deep learning engine, all designed to create an accurate profile of a user over time. That helps it determine when a fraudulent transaction is taking place. The firm works with large financial enterprises with hundreds of thousands to millions of users each.



My former student, Alesis Novik, is the cofounder of a start-up company AimBrain, who have a product which is a biometric security layer that can be used with any mobile data-sensitive application. They are actively fundraising, and winning targeted funding competitions, e.g., http://www.ed.ac.uk/informatics/news-events/recentnews/alumni-in-ubs-finals.

These are still early days but I am quite curious about the potential of this general line of research – using personalised attributes (the ‘biometrics’) as a stable source of identity. It would certainly begin to solve the annoying problem of passwords, but does it also have the potential in the longer term to genuinely act as the security side of ‘connected things’?

Hype Cycles 2013

I came across this in my twitter feed today, and find it really interesting. Gartner, Inc., a leading research and advisory company, routinely put together a report evaluating the relative readiness and ‘hype level’ of various technologies. The 2013 report includes the following nice visualisation.


As is perhaps the case for most academic researchers, many of the things I am working on fall in the innovation trigger category, inching into the peak of inflated expectations. It is worth keeping in mind the cautionary note that this only means we are a few years from the ‘trough of disillusionment’ – so, unless we have things to show by then, the reception could be rather cold!

New humanoid robot company

Yesterday, I received an announcement about a new humanoid robot company called Pal Robotics who make the REEM robot. The robot itself seems similar to several others that are beginning to show up in various start-up companies, such as the Nao robot from Aldebaran Robotics – which has been adopted for the RoboCup Standard Platform League. However, I was somewhat surprised by the location of this new company – in the United Arab Emirates. It is great to see this kind of diversity. Robot companies are being set up by everyone from former Google employees (Willow Garage) to people in Europe (Aldebaran) and now the middle east. With this kind of diversity, if even some of the attempts succeed, it would be a great thing for the field as a whole… exciting times indeed!