AI system listens to your engine and tells you if you’re running into problems

A lot of the most high-profile applications of deep learning technology involve aspects of computer vision, such as cutting-edge facial-recognition technology. However, an innovative artificial intelligence startup from Israel is looking to apply those same neural networks and smart algorithms to another area — acoustics. Better yet, they are doing so to help users spot early warning signs that machines, such as cars, may be about to fail.

“I was on a train about three years ago, going back to my hotel after a business meeting,” 3DSignals CEO Amnon Shenfeld told Digital Trends. “The train suddenly started making strange noises. These weren’t the usual sounds that trains make, but something out of the ordinary. It was the same week that a train had overturned in Spain, injuring a lot of people. Everyone stopped talking and was getting very worried. I had the thought that maybe if there was a train mechanic or engineer sitting on the train, they could tell us if the noise was normal and, if not, where it was coming from and whether it could be safely ignored.”

From that slightly scary scenario (from which he emerged unscathed), Shenfeld came up with the idea behind the company called 3DSignals. The company’s goal? To harness the latest AI machine learning technology to understand the noise patterns made by machines running into trouble and relating them back to users via their smartphone or tablet.

Properly trained, Shenfeld said that the company’s deep-learning algorithms are able to identify and predict specific problems with an accuracy rate of 98 percent.

To do this, machinery for monitoring has to be kitted out with the company’s proprietary hardware: Consisting of a connected processing unit and an ultrasonic microphone five times more sensitive than the human ear. While the human range is between 20Hz and 20kHz, 3DSignals’ custom mic can detect sounds ranging up to 100kHz.

ai system listens engine tells youre running problems sensorkit
The 3DSignals sensor and data collector kit in its industrial casing.

Shenfeld said his company never set out to create its own hardware, but had to in order to carry out its mission statement. After all, as pioneering technologist Alan Kay once said, people serious about software need to build their own hardware. “We went on Google and searched for ultrasonic, cloud-connected, ruggedized microphones, but we couldn’t find what we wanted,” Shenfeld said. “So right now we’re manufacturing the only device of its type that can be used for remote monitoring via acoustics.”

At present, 3DSignals is busy speaking with leading European carmakers about using the technology both in cars as well as to monitor auto factory machinery. It is also being used to monitor other non-auto industrial machinery like circular cutting blades in mills and hydroelectric turbines in power plants. The tech will be shown off on January 23 as part of the IoT Tech Expo in London.

“You know that saying about whether or not a tree that falls in the forest makes any sound?” Shenfeld said. “Well, we want to update the question to what happens to a machine that fails with no engineer standing next to it? We think we have the answer.”

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Business

Apple banned from distributing some iPhone models in Germany

Apple is following the FTC's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.
Computing

Is AMD's Navi back on track for 2019? Here's everything you need to know

With a reported launch in 2019, AMD is focusing on the mid-range market with its next-generation Navi GPU. Billed as a successor to Polaris, Navi promises to deliver better performance to consoles, like Sony's PlayStation 5.
Home Theater

Sony’s 360 Reality Audio is the epic sound revolution you didn’t know you needed

After Sony’s utterly bizarre press conference, I almost missed what was perhaps the most impactful sonic experience at the show. Luckily, I went back to Sony’s booth on the last day of the show, only to have my mind blown.
Cars

Robomart’s self-driving grocery store is like Amazon Go on wheels

Robomart's driverless vehicle is like an Amazon Go store on wheels, with sensors tracking what you grab from the shelves. If you don't want to shop online or visit the grocery store yourself, Robomart will bring the store to you.
Emerging Tech

Glowing space billboards could show ads in the night sky

Look up at the night sky in 2020 and you might see an ad for McDonald's floating among the stars. A Russian startup is working on a project that uses a constellation of small satellites in low-Earth orbit to create glowing ads.
Emerging Tech

New brainwave reader tells teachers if students are concentrating

Massachusetts-based startup BrainCo has developed brainwave-reading headbands which can reportedly help reveal if students are concentrating in class. Here's how they're being used.
Emerging Tech

Fears about kids’ screen use may have been overblown, Oxford researchers find

Many people take it as gospel that digital technologies are harmful to young people’s mental health. But is this true? A recent study from the University of Oxford takes a closer look.
Emerging Tech

Meet Wiliot, a battery-less Bluetooth chip that pulls power from thin air

A tiny chip from a semiconductor company called Wiliot could harvest energy out of thin air, the company claims. No battery needed. The paper-thin device pulls power from ambient radio frequencies like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cell signals.
Emerging Tech

Hexbot is a modular robot arm that does everything from drawing to playing chess

Who wouldn’t want their own personal robot arm to do everything from laser engraving to competing against you in a game of chess? That's what Hexbot, a new modular robot, promises to deliver.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world will take your breath away

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

Too buzzed to drive? Don’t worry — this autonomous car-bar will drive to you

It might just be the best or worst idea that we've ever heard: A self-driving robot bartender you can summon with an app, which promises to mix you the perfect drink wherever you happen to be.
Emerging Tech

Scientists successfully grow human blood vessels in a Petri dish

Researchers have managed to grow human blood vessels in a Petri dish for the first time, and even to successfully implant them into live mice. The results could be a game-changer for diabetes.
Emerging Tech

Tiny animals discovered in Antarctic lake deep beneath the ice

Scientists have made a surprising discovery in Antarctica: the carcasses of tiny animals including crustaceans and a tardigrade were found in a lake that sits deep beneath over half a mile of Antarctic ice.