Surcle And The Power of Crowdsourced Innovation

Surcle And The Power of Crowdsourced Innovation

While some industries have already realized the potential of crowdsourcing, others have not yet been impacted. Kickstarter innovated the world of fundraising, allowing entrepreneurs to connect with capital from all around the world. Websites like Fiverr use crowdsourcing for design and marketing solutions. Wikipedia employed the power of the crowd to create a digital encyclopedia. Founded in 2018, the team behind Surcle has brought crowdsourcing to the industry of hardware and manufacturing.

The team originates from Sourceability, a global electronic components supply chain company dedicated to connecting clients with difficult-to-find electronic components. Through their work at Sourceability, the Surcle team realized that as well as components, companies today face a challenge in obtaining innovative solutions to their business problems. The potential of crowdsourcing as a solution to this challenge became rapidly clear, and Surcle was born.

Surcle enables its clients to pose challenges to their diverse community of innovators – engineers, programmers, designers and other industry experts who are vetted and organized according to the skillset they provide. When a client company posts a challenge, the community competes to offer specifically tailored solutions to the problem. Cash rewards, ranging anywhere from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars incentivize active participation. Currently, the Industrial Multi-Protocol Converter challenge is offering $45,000 to the individual or team that can create a messaging system that aggregates industrial sensors and hardware inputs for seamless and real-time tracking.   

The advantages of offering a crowdsourcing option to overcome corporate challenges are immense. Surcle allows companies to draw from a diverse set of perspectives and ideas, expanding beyond the sometimes claustrophobic corporate mindset. Fresh eyes give way to fresh ideas and Surcle provides a far more cost-effective alternative to consulting firms or R&D teams. Currently, Surcle has 18 active competitions and more than $70,000 in incentives.

Surcle And The Power of Crowdsourced Innovation

Surcle’s innovative platform made them an ideal sponsor of the overall Boldest Innovator category for this year’s Bold Awards. The category is dedicated to recognizing the brightest and most original crowdsourcing ideas. The final five nominees for this year’s Boldest Innovator award are:

Plan A is dedicated to combatting climate change through its prediction platform. The platform directs donations towards organizations in those regions predicted to be most vulnerable to climate change.

 Robo Retail is an automated store, capable of storing and selling a diverse set of items to customers. Robo Retail is similar in concept to a vending machine, except that it is the size of a kiosk and capable of managing items of many sizes and shapes. Robo Retail is leading a new era of automated shopping.

Medical Cooling provides an all-in-one, mobile, life-saving device. Paramedics simply carry the Medical Cooling device as a backpack which includes a defibrillator, a vacuum pump, and a ventilator. With advanced telecommunication integration, the medical cooling system also supports Telemedicine options.

Memomi  Memomi is a VR integrated mirror that allows customers to try on virtual products instore. Simply by standing in front of the mirror, a customer can virtually dress in anything from makeup and jewelry to shoes and bags.

The CBOT Physiotherapeutical Robot uses facial recognition technology, a 3D scanner, and an advanced robotic arm to provide A.I. powered, physical therapy treatments to patients.

These companies continue to bring the power of crowdsourcing to novel industries. As the value of crowdsourcing grows, the importance of platforms like Surcle will too. Additionally, crowdsourcing makes R&D affordable to companies and teams of all sizes. The reality is, a well-supported platform featuring crowdsourced innovation will revolutionize the way we approach and overcome problems.

The winner in each of the BOLD Awards’ twelve categories will be announced at a gala dinner award ceremony held at the H-FARM campus just outside Venice, Italy, on April 5 2019. If you think you’re BOLD enough for a very sepecial evening in the company of the award winners, category sponsors and the teams from the event partners H-FARM and Crowdsourcing Week you can apply now for a ticket. 

Author: Noam Levenson


A Perfect Match: Artificial Intelligence and Crowdsourcing

A Perfect Match: Artificial Intelligence and Crowdsourcing

Over the past decade, the field of artificial intelligence (AI) has seen striking developments. There are now dozens of domains in which AI programs are performing at least as well as (if not better than) humans. Crowdsourcing on the other end has matured and reached a certain saturation; and while companies and organizations do see crowdsourcing as a valuable and cost-efficient mechanism, there is a growing awareness of its limitations.

This is now changing with the convergence of AI and crowdsourcing: the latter has evolved into a more pragmatic approach for corporates and organizations, who access the crowd not only for co-creation of products or their ingenuity but rather as trainers for AI systems. The other side of the equation is the growing awareness of the potential AI has in empowering crowds and enhancing their value.

In fact, AI and crowdsourcing are a perfect match. Take for example machine learning (ML) – a subset of AI. ML algorithms build a mathematical model of sample data, known as “training data”, to make predictions or decisions without being explicitly programmed to perform the task. This outcome is the result of two powerful forces in the evolution of information retrieval and analysis: natural language processing (NLP), and crowdsourcing.

Today we are accessing the knowledge of the crowd to label data – for instance to label a picture to be a cat or a dog. But this is just the beginning; crowds can provide data sets – for example, an individual or a group of people could provide data regarding their health, which an AI-system could collect and analyze, thus supporting the development of new treatments. And much like current crowd-based labor markets, where people are getting paid for performing micro-tasks (e.g. Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, or Witkey) – the crowd will either get paid for its data or will provide data for free to help advance a good cause for humanity (as in the case of CancerBase). Another exciting example is that of  sbv IMPROVER – a platform that is developing a crowdsourced and AI-based classification challenge on microbiome samples from inflammatory bowel disease patients.

Combining AI with the insights of annotators and the information provided and encoded by large numbers of humans, which traditionally has been performed by small numbers of people (usually experts), can allow companies and organizations to acquire large labeled datasets at lower cost, thus making R&D and production processes more efficient and less costly.

The other side of the equation is how ML can be harnessed to leverage the complementary strengths of humans and computational agents to solve crowdsourcing tasks. One of the main challenges of managing large online communities, especially communities who produce large quantities of data and information, is the challenge of synthesizing this information, i.e. creating knowledge – insights, patterns, predictions and more. Most communities rely heavily on human moderators, and can use analytics tools to analyze quantifiable participation patterns, but not the (sometimes fuzzy) content produced by humans.

Another problem with manually managing online crowds is the need to identify the right target audience, a sub-group if you will, for a specific ask, task or message. Take marketers that manage online communities, for example: they need to reach people who can contribute to their campaigns and not trolls, or just irrelevant participants. Remember that invaluable communication from a marketer is perceived as spam and could cause reputational damage.

Crowdsourced-AI, however, helps to overcome such problems. It enables human-like intelligence, allowing individuals and crowd subsets to be better analyzed and targeted. Even more so, AI-based engines can identify patterns in crowd behavior as well as discursive patterns (as in the case of an exciting Israeli startup – Epistema).  An AI-based crowdsourcing, or a crowd-based AI would allow to bridge between the basic level of data and information – which machines can analyze much better than human beings – and the knowledge domain, which is in the highest cognitive level, currently only performed by humans.

This vision of crowdsourcing our opinions and combining them with AI‘s superhuman ability to crunch data and come up with patterns, stands behind IBM’s “Project Debater – Speech by Crowd” as IBM dubs it – a “new and experimental cloud-based AI platform for crowdsourcing decision support.” It solicits arguments for and against a specific topic from as many humans as possible and then uses them to create debate speeches.

Looking even deeper into the future, there is a third type of AI-and-crowdsourcing convergence, only in this case, the crowd isn’t composed of people, but machines. This is what I call “Machine Sourcing” – the fourth component of the “Big Knowledge” revolution, along with AI, crowds and advanced data visualization. Machine Sourcing is based on machines that can not only write code, program and develop new algorithms, but create an algorithm that can analyze other algorithms, decide which ones serve a certain purpose, and use them to create another set of algorithms – or neural networks. Google’s AutoML is an early example of such existing technology: “neural nets that can design neural nets”. Wow!

sbv IMPROVER is sponsoring the Boldest Scientific Project in the international BOLD Awards. Details on the final five nominees in this category are available here. The winner will be announced at a black-tie award ceremony being held very soon at the campus home of  accelerator hub  H-FARM near Vencie, Italy, on April 5 2019. You can apply if you think you’re BOLD enough for one of the remaining event tickets for a unique gala dinner evening with the award winners, sponsors and the teams from H-FARM and Crowdsourcing Week.

Author: Dr Shay Hershkovitz