There is no doubt that parents will do anything they can to keep their children safe. Modern technology has made so many advancements that one might think there is little else that needs to be developed. However, Benjamin Lui knew that there was, and still is, so much more that needs to be done using technology for children. His concern for his own child led him to develop BabbyCam, a monitor that uses facial recognition to alert parents when their children are awake and alert or if they may be in distress. During his interview with Nall-edge, Benjamin described how BabbyCam was born and what is in store for the future.
NE: Can you share a story that inspired you to get involved in AI?
BL: Being a first-time parent is tough and I wanted all the help I could get when our baby was born. I worried about making sure my baby was getting enough sleep and not crying for too long in the crib. I also learned that babies should sleep on their backs instead of their stomachs because that would reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). I started looking for baby monitors that had facial recognition or could detect if the baby was on his or her stomach, but didn’t find any. So I decided to build my own.
NE: Describe your company and the AI/predictive analytics/data analytics products/services you offer.
BL: BabbyCam is a baby monitor that uses AI to recognize your baby and alert you when your baby is awake, asleep, crying, makes a sound, or face is covered. It can send alerts straight to your phone and track your baby’s sleeping schedule. BabbyCam also comes equipped with a gooseneck clamp that you can easily mount anywhere on your crib. As a new parent, it helps calm some fears since there is always “someone” watching my baby when I’m not in the room.
NE: How do you see the AI/data analytics/predictive analysis industry evolving in the future?
BL: The AI hardware will get better. The evolution will be exciting to watch because this opens the door to what you can do with software. Currently, AI software is very demanding on hardware and pushing hardware to the limits. Now semiconductor companies are adding AI-specific hardware to their chips and increasing performance. As AI hardware becomes more and more ubiquitous, so will AI software.
NE: What is the biggest challenge facing the industry today in your opinion?
BL: I’d like to point out 2 challenges. One is data. We need good data and a lot of it. That takes energy and time to gather. The 2nd is finding people with AI skills. To take advantage of all that data, you’ll need people who know how to write code using AI techniques and frameworks. We don’t have enough of either right now.
NE: How do you see your products/services evolving going forward?
BL: In my product, I'd like to add classifications for more emotions. Think of catching your baby's first smile or laugh. I also think my BabbyCam unconsciously knows when my baby is sick or not. The data is all there, we just need to translate it. Recently my daughter caught a cold and based on the alerts I received overnight, I knew she didn't have a good night's sleep. I didn't have the energy to count how many times my baby woke up in the middle of the night, but BabbyCam did. I did make sure to check her temperature in the morning and she had a fever. I'm absolutely convinced BabbyCam's AI has helped us be better parents.
NE: What is your favorite AI movie and why?
BL: Star wars. The movies aren’t really focused on AI but shows how an AI-infused life can look like. Things like speaking to a robot become second nature. I like that the movies show AI with a lighter tone by adding emotions to it. There are many instances where the characters hug a droid or even argue with them. It plays down the perspective of AI being something scary and instead, shows a familiar relationship that we can all relate to.
NE: What type of advice would you give my readers about AI?
BL: AI is hard. Don’t be fooled by all the promises or scariness that is associated with AI. Yes, it can get good at a specific task, but it will make a lot of mistakes getting to that point. I think deploying it in focused problems will be very beneficial, but it won’t take over the world…yet.
NE: How does AI, particularly your product/service, bring goodness to the world? Can you explain how you help people?
BL: My personal view of BabbyCam is that whoever uses it becomes part of our family. For example, BabbyCam can detect when a baby cries and send proper alerts to the parents. My daughter Elise was the first baby that BabbyCam trained on and learned what a baby crying looks like. Through her data, Elise has indirectly provided care for other babies. She is like an older sister to all the other babies now.
NE: What would be the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you during your company’s evolution?
BL: While developing BabbyCam, there were times it would detect a baby in an empty crib. I didn’t think much of it since I just assumed it made a mistake and needed further training. Weeks go by and it still was detecting a phantom baby in an empty crib. I was racking my head trying to adjust the hyperparameters and data set. Finally, I looked closer at the crib and noticed a Pampers diaper box in the corner of the room. On the front of the box was a picture of a baby’s face. Facepalm.
NE: What are the 3-5 things that most excite you about AI? Why? (industry specific)
BL: AI can be a great teaching tool. There are a lot of things that parents pickup and learn raising their children. For example, loose blankets are not ideal for young infants. AI could warn parents of the possible dangers when it sees it. Or if AI notices a baby having trouble falling asleep, it can recommend different methods that other parents have used to help their baby sleep. AI can be used as a transfer of knowledge.
NE: What are the 3-5 things worry you about AI? Why? (industry specific)
BL: At first, we might fear the capabilities of AI. But as with most innovations, we will get used to them and start taking them for granted. Whenever we travel and don't take BabbyCam, I feel blind. It's weird knowing every detail of how your child sleeps and then going through nights of not knowing anything. As parents, I sometimes question have we become too dependent on AI?
NE: Over the next three years, name at least one thing that we can expect in the future related to AI?
BL: AI will increase efficiency in our workplace and in our home. In a hospital, a nurse can accomplish other tasks in the hospital if we have smart baby monitors that will alert them when they are needed. At home, I don't need to stay close to the crib because BabbyCam will alert me if my baby wakes up while I'm mowing the lawn. However, increased efficiency can also cause deductions to the workforce. There will be less jobs in certain sectors that can be replaced with AI. Standards and expectations will be raised as current workers can do more with the help of AI.
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