London-based machine learning startup Deep Render has raised £4 million, in a funding round led by Pentech with support from Speedinvest, to further develop proprietary technology that could revolutionise how data is stored and managed.

A spin out of Imperial College London’s leading robotics lab, Deep Render claims its image compression technology reduces the file size of images by ten times compared to standard software, while maintaining the same level of visual quality. “We’re not trying to make the original software better, but replace it. Effectively, we are burning the existing compression technology to the ground; rewriting, redefining and reinventing the entire domain,” said co-founder Chri Besenbrush.

Whereas current compression software relies on linear modules, the startup’s AI-powered ‘Biological Compression’ domain uses a non-linear context-aware algorithm that mimics the neural processes of the human eye.

“As humans, our eyes have evolved to care about certain colours and properties of the natural world,” explains Arsalan Zafar, the startup’s other founder. “Accounting for these evolutionary instincts improves visual quality but teaching a machine to do so has been incredibly complex until now. Our technological breakthrough represents the foundation for a new class of compression methods.”

In a press release, the startup cites how stay-at-home orders of the coronavirus pandemic have put a strain on streaming sites like Netflix, YouTube and Zoom, forcing them to downgrade content resolution and quality — “something that wouldn’t have been necessary if they were using Deep Render’s algorithm.”

Besenbruch and Zafar believe the impact could go far beyond everyday data consumers to transform the underpinning data of entire industries and every sector.

Emphasising the crucial importance of the ML startup’s offering, Eddie Anderson of Pentech said: “Image compression is at the heart of almost everything we do online, at home and in business, yet we’re stuck using ill-equipped and antiquated algorithms that won’t, and can’t, meet future needs.”

The new funding will go to product development and new hires.


Photo: Deep Render founders Christian Besenbruch and Arsalan Zafar

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