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Iprova brings AI-driven invention to Cambridge

Iprova's Tim Beard, right, with Cambridge Science Park director Jeanette Walker
Iprova's Tim Beard, right, with Cambridge Science Park director Jeanette Walker

Anglo-Swiss AI-driven invention company Iprova, which uses AI to augment the human ability to create, has opened a new office on Cambridge Science Park.

CEO Julian Nolan of the Lausanne-based organisation says the company core technology uses machine learning to look for ‘triggers’ – unexpected findings which create new abilities and provides new perspectives for human inventors.

He says: “Our approach to invention is to analyse vast amounts of data using cutting-edge AI techniques to identify social, market and technology advances from around the world, which enable our team of human inventors to develop new inventions for our clients. By using AI, we are able to invent faster and with a greater level of disruptiveness than previously possible.

“So we work for a client,” explains invention developer Tim Beard, who’s based at Iprova’s Cambridge office in the Bradfield Centre. “They come to us, and may say, ‘We’re doing a lot of smart lighting, can you provide patentable inventions that extend what we can do with it and which are consistent with our customer journey and strategy?’. With the help of our technology, we identify inventive social, market and technology signals. These then help us, as invention developers, to create inventions which have strong commercial relevance through their timing and level of disruptiveness.”

Julian Nolan, founder and CEO of Iprova, which is headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland
Julian Nolan, founder and CEO of Iprova, which is headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland

Julian adds that many of the possibilities they spot don’t require new components - just adaptations of existing ones.

“For example, Iprova has created an invention that facilitates the implementation of gesture recognition in a range of devices including mobile phones, televisions and computers,” says Julian. “The invention repurposes the LED backlight present in the display of many existing devices for use in time-of-flight technology, a key component in gesture recognition systems. The light that is normally used to illuminate the display is adapted to provide a photon source for a time-of-flight system, simultaneously reducing the cost, power and space required for a gesture-based interface. The associated patent for this has been widely referenced by leading technology companies around the world.”

Recent granted patents based on Iprova adjust the features of a smartphone according to the needs of the owner. One such invention uses a person’s stress levels - detected from fitness trackers, for example - to manage the privacy of their phone, providing easy access to services at times of need but preserving privacy at other times.

Julian continues: “We don’t try to compete with internal R&D teams in large companies. These teams often have very deep knowledge of their domains, but limited breadth. We add value by analysing the interrelations between diverse technologies to create disruptive, commercially valuable inventions. These could be the ‘silver bullet’ to enable a company to dominate a market or diversify to new markets.”

Julian believes that Iprova is using AI to change the economics of invention and this will have a profound impact on how companies compete and develop new products.

Over the past few years, Iprova has created well over a thousand inventions in areas as diverse as healthcare, autonomous vehicles, mobile devices, 5G telecommunications, energy, lighting and robotics. Many hundreds of patents have been filed based on these by Iprova’s customers which comprise of many of the world’s leading technology companies in the US, Europe and Asia.

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