In a nondescript building close to downtown Chicago, Marc Gyongyosi and the small but growing crew o f IFM/Onetrack .AI have one rule that rules them all: think simple. The words are written in simple font on a simple sheet of paper that’s stuck to a rear upstairs wall of their industrial two-story workspace. What they’re doing here with artiﬁcial intelligence, however, isn’t simple at all.
Sitting at his cluttered desk, located near an oft-used ping pong table and prototypes of drones from his college days suspended overhead, Gyongyosi punches some keys on a laptop to pull up grainy video footage of a forklift driver operating his vehicle in a warehouse. It was captured from overhead courtesy of a Onetrack.AI “forklift vision system.”
Employing machine learning and computer vision for detection and classiﬁcation of various “safety events,” the shoebox-sized device doesn’t see all, but it sees plenty. Like which way the driver is looking as he operates the vehicle, how fast he’s driving, where he’s driving, locations of the people around him and how other forklift operators are maneuvering their vehicles. IFM’s software automatically detects safety violations (for example, cell phone use) and notiﬁes warehouse managers so they can take immediate action. The main goals are to prevent accidents and increase efﬁciency. The mere knowledge that one of IFM’s devices is watching, Gyongyosi claims, has had “a huge effect.”
“If you think about a camera, it really is the richest sensor available to us today at a very interesting price point,” he says. “Because of smartphones, camera and image sensors have become incredibly inexpensive, yet we capture a lot of information. From an image, we might be able to infer 25 signals today, but six months from now we’ll be able to infer 100 or 150 signals from that same image. The only difference is the software that’s looking at the image. And that’s why this is so compelling, because we can offer a very important core feature set today, but then over time all our systems are learning from each other. Every customer is able to beneﬁt from every other customer that we bring on board because our systems start to see and learn more processes and detect more things that are important and relevant.”