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Vol. 138 Mar 2020
Open Ocean Camera’s advanced technology raises marine life research effectiveness
The ocean is one of the final frontiers on earth. It is home to a plenitude of wonderful creatures and ecologies yet to be explored and understood. But traditional ways of monitoring marine life, with static cameras and manual processes, are too inflexible and costly to be efficient. Open Ocean Camera, a Cyberport Creative Micro Fund (CCMF) grantee, has a better idea, and it has developed the hardware and the AI to make marine research less expensive and more effective, flexible, and fun.
What Open Ocean Camera offers are significant improvements over the conventional way of conducting long-term underwater video monitoring with the market’s popular action cameras in the likes of GoPros. Instead of lasting only three days, the start-up’s camera can last three weeks underwater and comes with eight times more storage than regular action camera models available in the market. Equipped with a deep learning based classification system, the camera can even sort images automatically, saving researchers from sifting through hours upon hours of recording for a few seconds of worthwhile footage. In addition, the software comes with fully flexible timetabling and custom image modes – 320 at present – which enable the camera to record under different sea conditions and according to plans.
Indeed, during Open Ocean Camera’s pilot testing, the solutions have demonstrated a 50x improvement in post-processing time and a 7x improvement in annual operational cost for marine research and data collection.
To train its deep learning model and to hone the software’s auto-sort capabilities, Open Ocean Camera has gained access to more than a million images from Nat Geo funded research groups in the Philippines. This trove of materials has enabled the start-up to improve the accuracy of its software in identifying one of the marine species by 85% in just six months.
The start-up is now targeting a two-fold business model. In addition to selling camera hardware, the start-up is planning to sell its trained sorting models to scientists to help them sort and process their data. Open Ocean Camera will also soon launch a Kickstarter campaign to bring its solutions to more people, which will amplify the impact of this fantastic innovation.
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