Artificial intelligence is a powerful tool, but it’s not a magic wand. Applying the technology requires thought and dedication, especially with legacy industries like law and insurance, which are being taken on in this way by Luminance and Omnius respectively. The companies’ founders, Emily Foges and Sofie Quidenus-Wahlforss, spoke with great insight on this on stage at Disrupt Berlin.
Luminance uses AI and natural language processing to help law firms process documents more quickly, not replacing the lawyer but providing additional intelligence and analysis of what may be hundreds or thousands of pages and saving time and money. Omnius applies AI not just to the text of insurance claims, but to the process of handling them, ensuring rapidity not only in documentation but in results like payouts.
Omnius has raised about $30 million in multiple small rounds and grants, while Luminance has raised some $23M mainly in its A and B rounds.
I’ve edited and contextualized our conversation here, but you can also watch the full panel below. I’ve made some slight changes for readability but left things mostly intact. Pull quotes belonging to Emily are on the left, Sofie’s are on the right.
The first thing I wanted to hear from the founders was why they chose these industries, and why now? After all, law and insurance are notoriously old-fashioned, some would even say backwards in many ways. How could they be sure this was an opportunity, and not a folly?
Emily Foges (Luminance): It had more to do with the capabilities of the technology, actually. We started with technology that can read a lot of language, and then we looked at what industry would benefit most from that. It was that way around.
I think the timing is 80 percent of the battle; The fact that the legal profession had got to a point of being ready to accept the use of that kind of technology was more luck than anything. But there’s been such an explosion in enterprise data that lawyers just can’t possibly cope with reading and all of the documentation that they need to — so the market was ready.
Sofie Quidenus-Wahlforss (Omnius): I think we come from a very similar background. We started on a horizontal level, with deep document understanding, and at some point we understood, if you really want to ship business value, you need to dive into one vertical.
We have different verticals to choose: manufacturing, legal, pharma… so then we were like, okay, which area is the biggest that is not transformed yet? And do we see decision makers aware of the of the need to do something? And do they have money?
The insuretech world is of course making a lot of pressure, all the new insurance companies like Lemonade, WeFox, Coya, because they claim to settle a claim in minutes. So the big guys like Alliance, they got nervous. And on the other hand you see, on the technology side, improvements in the areas of computing power, way more access to data, more flexible models. So we thought, the industry is ready, the technology’s ready, I was ready to build a big company. It’s my fourth company and I was like, this time I’ll build something huge. So everything fell into place.
They don’t call them legacy industries for nothing, though. These domains, and some companies, that have existed for decades or even a century or more. That means legacy systems and legacy people, to put it kindly, that may not be amenable to change. Emily had some surprising stats on that, while Sofie advocated an AI-like approach to classifying and selecting clients.
Emily: Some of them are more ready than others, and I think the ones who aren’t ready need to really catch up, because we got to critical mass really quickly. We’re only three and a half years old, but we’ve got 185 law firms around the world signed up. The interesting thing was the most ready people were the law firms outside of the UK, outside of the US. It was European law firms, APAC-based law firms, South and Central American law firms who got on board first. They were more ready because to be honest, the commercial pressure was greater. And then the pressure on the US and UK law firms came from them.
This is something I can really recommend for every startup trying to transform an industry from scratch: classifying your customers. We had 16-17 criteria, how we defined the companies we really want to spend time with.
Sofie: We thought, cool, the transformation is happening already. But after a while, 2018, we were like, okay, this market is not moving as fast as we thought . We looked at our proof of concept, our pilots we did with insurance companies and were like, wow, every big insurance company in Europe wants to have an AI pilot project but who’s really ready to start with AI full production?
And this is something I can really recommend for every startup trying to transform an industry from scratch: classifying your customers. Who is a laggard, who is an early adopter, who is early mainstream, is an innovator? Then we decided together with the board, okay, we’ll only focus on innovators and early adopters, and the rest should wait, or we can both wait for each other — but we cannot waste our time.
Ring Car Cam leaks: This could be Amazon’s Alexa dash-cam
Details and what appears to be an image of Ring’s upcoming Car Cam have leaked, with the connected dash cam expected to add security both when the vehicle is parked and while it’s on the move. The newest addition to Ring’s line-up was actually announced in September 2020 as part of Amazon’s big device launch, though at the time no pictures of the Car Cam hardware itself were shared.
Still, Ring’s description painted a fairly comprehensive picture of what it was intended to do. As well as tracking bumps and attempted break-ins, and notifying owners via the Ring smartphone app, it can also be used to record journeys and summon emergency services in the case of an accident being detected.
If you’re being pulled over by the police, meanwhile, saying “Alexa, I’m being pulled over” will automatically begin video and audio recording. At the same time as that’s being uploaded to the cloud, the system will send a notification to pre-selected family members to let them know the stop has taken place. Ring said there would be a physical privacy shutter, too, and a choice of WiFi or LTE connectivity. The whole thing would be $199.99, though cellular plans would be on top of that.
Since then, we’ve not heard anything more about the new dash camera. A leak on The Tape Drive, though, has revealed what it could look like, and it’s certainly an unusual design.
The camera assembly looks to be mounted on some sort of bracket, either to be positioned above the dashboard or potentially hung from above the rearview mirror. There’s presumably a fish-eye camera on both sides – only visible from one side in the render – to capture footage both inside and outside of the car.
As for functionality, ZatzNotFunny spotted a seemingly prematurely-published Ring Car Cam information document on the company’s support site. It reconfirms some of the details which Ring told us late last year, but also adds a few extra tidbits.
For example, the camera will connect via the vehicle’s data port, not just hook up to a USB or 12V outlet for power. “Ring Car Cam easily installs directly to the OBD-II port in your vehicle, located behind your steering wheel in most cars,” Ring explains. “It securely attaches to the windshield and dashboard of the car, and the cable can be neatly tucked away and out of sight.”
It’s unclear what extra data Ring might be gathering by using that approach. The OBD-II port typically grants access to various driving metrics, and though originally intended as a way for vehicle technicians to diagnose faults and issues in increasingly computerized models, has also gained traction as a way for third-party devices to tap that same stream of information. Amazon had also announced Ring Car Alarm, a cellularly-connected dongle that plugs into the ODB-II port.
The Ring Car Cam itself won’t require a subscription, though you won’t get all of the features in that case. “You can access video stored locally on the device via the Ring app when the car is within range of wifi,” the company explains. “With an optional Ring connectivity plan, you can access video from anywhere via LTE as well as advanced features like Emergency Crash Assist.”
The connectivity plan for Ring Car Cam will also unlock features like real-time tracking, to help locate a stolen vehicle.
What remains to be seen is how Ring Car Cam will fit into Ring’s existing sharing policies with police departments. The Amazon-owned company has found itself mired in controversy in recent years, after inking deals with law enforcement that saw many requests for footage from connected security cameras and video doorbells. Ring had been accused of fueling privacy infringement and supporting racial profiling.
Earlier this month, the company announced a new policy around sharing with public safety and law enforcement agencies. Moving forward, such agencies will ahem to request information or video from communities through a publicly-viewable category on Ring’s Neighbors app. This new section, “Request for Assistance,” will allow communities to see just what sort of data is being shared, Ring says.
“All Request for Assistance posts will be publicly viewable in the Neighbors feed, and logged on the agency’s public profile,” Ring explains. “This way, anyone interested in knowing more about how their police agency is using Request for Assistance posts can simply visit the agency’s profile and see the post history.”
YouTube on iOS PiP makes it much easier to watch videos while multitasking
YouTube is now rolling out the ability for all users to watch videos with picture-in-picture mode, which reduces the video players to a small floating screen on one’s phone or tablet. This feature won’t be limited to only premium customers as some had previously speculated, though those premium customers will get access to the PiP support first.
Android users have had access to YouTube’s picture-in-picture mode for a while; it has become increasingly useful as devices get larger, higher-resolution displays, leaving ample room for using more than one app at a time. With PiP, someone can watch a video in a small corner of their device’s display while doing something else, such as browsing social media, messaging, or playing games.
There have been concerns over recent months that YouTube wouldn’t only make its picture-in-picture mode available to paying Premium subscribers on iOS, but that’s not the case, according to confirmation given to MacRumors.
The feature is now rolling out to all iOS users in the United States, with Premium customers getting it first followed by free users ‘soon.’ Some iOS users have already had access to the YouTube picture-in-picture feature, though its availability has been touch and go with it working only sometimes.
The official support will eliminate the need to deal with difficult workarounds and buggy Safari streaming, though you may need to remain patient if you’re not a Premium user. The feature will be most useful on larger iPhone models where there’s enough screen space to watch a video in the mini player and engage in a second activity.
Researchers say they’ve found the ideal strategy to pay off student loans
When many people near college graduation, they begin to contemplate how they’ll deal with the student loans they’ve racked up over the past few years. The burden — which grows more substantial with every generation — can result in stress and, if not managed properly, may throw one’s life plans off track for several years. Mathematicians with the University of Colorado at Boulder may have a solution, explaining that they developed a mathematical model to explore the ideal repayment strategy.
Generally speaking, college graduates get a brief grace period after graduation during which time they aren’t required to make payments on their loans. Two different options are available once payments start: an income-based repayment strategy that involves paying a certain amount monthly based on one’s salary or simply throwing as much money at the loan as possible to pay it off in a shorter period of time.
In many cases, graduates are often advised to pay the loans off as quickly as possible if the funding amount is on the smaller side. On the flip side, graduates are typically told to take the income-based repayment option if they’ve taken out a substantial amount of funds in the form of student loans. The new study suggests a hybrid approach may be more ideal.
The mathematical model takes into account things like compounding interest rates, the income tax that may need to be paid, and more. The findings indicate that some graduates may benefit from a hybrid-style repayment approach that involves paying off as much as possible for the first several years, then switching over to an income-based repayment plan for the remainder of the balance.
The team of researchers hasn’t made their work available as a calculator for the public, but they do plan to improve it and potentially make it available to existing repayment calculators that may integrate the model. The ideal repayment method will ultimately depend on personal factors that must be accounted for, including things like anticipated salary and more.
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