You’ve probably noticed the recent chatter around the AI industry. If you haven’t, well, stop reading right now and Google “apocalypse and AI”. We don’t subscribe to Elon Musk & Co.’s Terminator-inspired doom and gloom, but all the fervour surrounding the sector is telling. AI, once little more than a plot-point in science fiction movies, is now a reality.

Since 2015, a growing section of our client’s products or services involved AI in both the B2B and B2C space. We’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with European leaders involved in theoretical research, like Dhatim; leading North American solutions providers, like ElementAI; and even startups in the Asian market, like Active.AI. These clients have posed many similar challenges but always via a very unique approach — perfect food for our creative minds!

We love working with AI startups, which is why we keep a close eye on the top AI startups, and how the market is shaping up in Canada. And, because we’re nice, we’ve decided to share. Here’s our map of the Canadian AI ecosystem:


that was part of our study of the market. And below, you’ll find a list of the startups we’re keeping an eye on throughout the world. From cancer research to farming, these are the leaders in the industry who are writing the future of AI.

1. SoundHound


You wouldn’t expect a company that started by sniffing out the artist and name of a song to be at the top of a list of AI startups, but here they are, and for good reason. Started thirteen years ago as a Shazam-like app, SoundHound has moved from recognizing songs to interacting with people. Currently, the company still offers its music-recognizing app, SoundHound, but has added Hound, a virtual assistant app; and Houndify, a speech-to-meaning engine that powers a variety of software from major firms.

With Hound, which runs on Houndify, SoundHound has created the most powerful virtual assistant. Hound is able to react to speech in a much more complex, human way than other virtual assistants, making the user experience much more enjoyable, and the assistant itself much more powerful.

Hound allows you to:

  • ask complex questions
  • ask follow up questions
  • use both inclusions and exclusions in your query

That means you can ask SoundHound’s virtual assistant, “What are all the 24 hour convenience stores in a five minute radius of me, excluding 7–11s?”

With a variety of new technologies in beta, SoundHound continues to push to make the interaction between humans and their AI counterparts more natural and, well, human.

2. Freenome


The search for a cure for cancer has galvanized people across the world to bike, run, shave their heads — anything to bring in money to aid the search.

Now, medical startups have stepped into the gap, trying to find a way to leverage AI in the battle. The primary focus of most of these startups is liquid biopsies — or detecting cancer in blood samples. Freenome, however, boasts they have already taken the next step: not only diagnosing the patient, but detecting where the cancer likely is, if it’s benign or malignant, and which treatment would be most effective based on that blood sample.

With thousands of tests under its belt, the software is getting better and better at detecting cancer thanks to machine learning. Currently the company is focused on detecting colon, breast, lung and prostate cancer. But, before it can roll out its technology to the public, it must complete the necessary clinical trials in order to secure regulatory approval.

3. Bowery Farming


Farming isn’t the first thing that comes to most people’s mind when it comes to technology, but Bowery Farming is working to put an end to that misconception.

They have, quite literally, upended farming, flipping its fields vertically and moving them inside, where they can do a better job of controlling all the variables. Sensors and cameras allow the company’s AI to monitor crops, making sure each plant is under ideal conditions for growth. Bowery Farms claims that their method is up to 100 times more efficient by output per square foot than a traditional farm.

Because all variables are accounted for, all Bowery Farm produce is grown without chemicals, making it certified organic. This produce is already available in stores.

4. Arterys


Mundane, repetitive tasks have always been one of the strengths of computers. Arterys augments that strength with AI to allow computers to effectively examine MRI scans. Arterys’ AI has reduced the time required to examine these scans to just 15 seconds. That’s over 44 minutes faster than the average doctor can complete this task.

Every examination is uploaded to a central cloud, giving the system a growing data set. By leveraging machine learning, along with the constantly growing data set, the system gets more and more accurate over time. In fact, Arterys cardiac MRI technology, which examines scans of the heart and the blood flow through its ventricles, is the first cloud-based AI system to be FDA-approved in clinical settings.

Currently, Arterys is seeking similar approval for its lung and liver technology.

5. Spoke


Like the name applies, this startup’s AI aims to be the connection between the people on the ground at your company, and the hub — the spokes on the wheel that keeps your company moving forward. Have a question about a policy, or notification on a maintenance issue? Tell Spoke’s bot and it will answer. Or, if it can’t handle your problem, like a lack of paper towel in the washroom, it will tell someone who can deal with it. By utilizing machine learning, the AI is becoming better, and more useful with each question asked of it.

With communication options via Slack, email, text, or its own app, it offers your employees a multitude of ways to get their questions answered — keeping your business from getting bogged down by simple questions, and time-consuming requests.

A New Era for AI

AI has the potential to greatly benefit every sector of the economy, changing the way we live and work. We believe, unlike Musk, that AI will change our world for the better, and these five companies are just a taste of the wonderful benefits that will come.

We’re excited — not just at the bright future ahead of us, but to work with companies that have such big dreams. AI will change our world, and we love being a part of that.

Article written by the Team — Flying Saucer Studio

January 29, 2021
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