AI has started becoming synonymous with automation for several digital firms. The technology is making its impact in different sectors in different ways. Now there are firms building AI for eCommerce to boost customer engagement and personalisation on online stores. In several cases, machine learning driven & data empowered chatbots can be more effective at recommendations, than a human sitting at the other end of a live chat box.
Internet firms can heavily leverage this tech depending upon all the possibilities they can think of. However there are some who believe that the use cases of AI isn’t restricted to digital businesses alone. Such is the team at Fluid AI, which wants to make the capabilities of an AI enabled system available for everyone.
Fluid AI – An Introduction
Mumbai-based Fluid AI was founded in 2008, by two brothers Abhinav Aggarwal and Raghav Aggarwal, with a belief that the power of artificial intelligence can be used across industries, sectors and use cases.
On one hand the company offers machine learning driven decision making for various business operations, and on the other it is creating virtual customer assistance for firms with a physical presence.
AI Driven Operational Decision Making
“The AI technology uses genetically evolving neural networks to create over 100,000 iterative models from the data sources given to us by the clients. It studies the data pattern which arises from the model evolves accordingly and improves feedbacks whenever the market conditions change.” says Abhinav.
The company offers a Plug and Play artificial intelligence system, which can be installed in any system. It connects to hundreds of data sources within and outside the server and gives the suggestions based on the previously collected data.
For instance, every eCommerce retail firm works with several logistics partners. And for every order it has to fulfil, it has to consider many parameters like order item, cost, pin code, fragility, warehouse location etc. An AI system sitting on top of real time data, can reduce the decision making time and determine the best partner for each particular order.
When asked about the corporates using such a system Abhinav shares “The major sectors we cater to are Banking. Retail, Hotels, Automotive and Realty.” It is currently working with customers like Vodafone, Toyota, Deloitte, Emirates NBD, Barclays, Rolls Royce, Accenture and Axis Bank.
Artificial Intelligence in the Real World Environment
The 50 membered team is working to expand AI solutions to the tangible world. “Fluid Motion turns any screen in-store into a smart and interactive screen using artificial intelligence. It talks to customers who walk in front of it and puts them in a digital environment where they can explore about the product using their gestures.” says Abhinav.
Fluid motion is the startup’s motion and gesture recognition offering. They have integrated it in screens that can offer an augmented reality experience in stores. Using infrared cameras, the solution detects when a customer walks by and starts speaking to them. Some clients are using the screens as customer support interfaces, which can also be used for up-selling by recommending customers what they might like by learning their preferences in real time.
Abhinav says, “We are trying to replace people with AI, which can better assist the customer with their queries eloquently and without any errors.” The backend of the customer interaction interface is powered by their proprietary engine which works with the help of respective client’s data.
At a bank’s kiosk, the system can guide users through the processes and resolve their queries. At a retail store, the touch screens can show the available catalogue, and give personalised recommendations from the available products. The company feels that their technology would make such interfaces superior to the existing static screens, since it can detect movement and call out to the nearby standing customers like a human staff.
Challenges Faced & The Way Forward
Like most enterprise AI companies, Fluid AI, too faced a roadblock when it came to getting access to sufficient data to train the systems. Abhinav says, “Since we tend to create a hundred thousand data point for the software to better predict the outcome in today’s ever changing and dynamic environment, we need to have the data from the clients’ side for input. Initially the clients were unwilling to release these data, but were later on convinced by our tech to comply with us.”
Further, the adoption of standalone touch screens in retail environments is still mostly limited to certain malls in the metro cities. The company initially had troubles in deploying their intelligent interfaces in the real world, and wasn’t able to get feedback on how customers actually interacted with them. Hence again they didn’t have sufficient response data to train their system and iterate it.
When the two brothers started, there weren’t many available resources for the products they wanted to build, and hence had to make everything from scratch.
As an advice for other startups in the same field, Abhinav suggests “Firstly, try to deploy your product to the real world as early as you can, so that you’ll have an idea as to how your product is performing at a very early stage. Secondly, try to expose yourself to as many sectors as possible. You may never know which industry will be more beneficial for your growth, until you explore it.”
Presently the team is planning to increase the company’s client base and improve existing relations with clients in India. Their focus is to expand further in UK, Philippines, Middle East and India, and on entering into the US market in the upcoming financial year.
Also, on an interesting note, the founders say that they are not hiring any more people in the team, instead they are simply deploying their AI solution to handle everything from their reception to their recruitment.
Minds Behind the Venture
Abhinav and Raghav Aggarwal founded Fluid AI when they were at HR College. Both of them had a passion for technology and are self-learnt coders. Raghav dropped out of IIM Ahmadabad and Abhinav dropped ISB Hyderabad, as they both felt that HR had given them everything they needed to succeed in the business world. Abhinav’s also done his CA and Raghav his international CFA.