Latent AI, which says it can compress common AI models by 10x, lands some key backing ' TechCrunch

Latent AI, a Menlo Park-based startup that was just three years old, pitched investors to a few investors in the TechCrunchs Battlefield competition. Although it didn't win the contest, that hasn't stopped investors from expressing interest in other companies. It recently closed $19 million in Series B funding. This round was co-led and led by Future Ventures. Participants included Booz Allen and Lockheed Martin. 40 North Ventures and Autotech Ventures. The company has raised $22.5 million.What exactly are these backers funding? According to the company, it creates software that can train, adapt, and deploy edge AI neural network networks regardless of hardware limitations or the low-cost chips found in edge devices. It claims it can reduce common AI models by tenfold without any noticeable improvement in accuracy. This is partly due to an attention mechanism that allows it to conserve power and only run what it needs based on the environment and operational context. It also promises that its software will do all this with almost zero latency for its users, who are edge device developers.Steve Jurvetson is a veteran investor and cofounder at Future Ventures. He says that there are many possible applications.There is a growing market for Latent AI's tech. Although Jags Kandasamy, the cofounder and CEO of Latent AI, declined to discuss specifics in an interview, he indicated that the U.S. government was already a customer due to strategic investors such as Booz Allen. (In a press release about Booz Allen's investment in Latent AI last month, a senior vice president at the government services agency stated that the U.S.'s national defense strategy is based on the ability to quickly analyze, collect and act upon data.Lockheed Martin is another strategic investor. He is focused on ways AI technologies can improve the U.S. Military's situational awareness across all domains (land, sea, cyber, and electromagnetic spectrum). It is easy to see why the startup is attractive to him.Kandasamy spoke this afternoon also about an unnamed ski manufacturer who is using Latent AIs tech to create its Google Glass-like AR goggles. He suggested that Latent AI can see a lot of potential in the commercial market too.Of course, given that the world is now rife with data-collecting-devices and that theres an enormous interest in making that data actionable without having to send it back and forth to a distant cloud, there are many other companies and projects with the same objective as Latent AI. Open source tools such as TensorFlow and hardware vendors like Xilinx are just a few of the many.Kandasamy believes that everyone is not perfect. TensorFlow's Kandasamy says that developers only have community support for production deployment. The chipmakers around the globe are focused on their hardware, not vertically integrated. What about their rivals? Kandasamy says that they are either focused on compiling or compression, and not both.Regardless of the outcome, Latent AI is a company with a rich backstory. After Kandasamy, a serial entrepreneur, sold his last startup to Analog Devices, he headed to SRI International in 2018 as an entrepreneur-in-residence. He was immediately impressed by the tech developed by Sekchai, who had been the technical director of research institutions for almost a decade and specialized in low-power, high performance computing, machine learning, computer vision and computer vision. Kandasamy soon found out that Chai had founded Latent AI, and began to iron out some of the kinks.With new funding and a growing customer base who pay Latent AI on an annual basis to have access to its tools and then deploy them on-premise, the question is whether this 15-person company is moving fast enough to keep up with its future and current rivals.Jurvetson clearly believes that the company is well-positioned. Jurvetson says that he is an SRI International advisory board member for over a decade. He has seen many technologies such as Siri develop and then be spun out of the company.He says that this is the only one in which I have ever invested.