Mar 29, 2021

Peloton acquires three AI companies to improve hardware

AI
Exercise
Hardware
Sam Steers
2 min
Courtesy of Getty Images
Peloton has purchased three organisations specialising in artificial intelligence (AI) in an attempt to improve its hardware and services...

The exercise and technology company Peloton has purchased three businesses with AI expertise to try and improve their services and hardware.

The New York-based organisation’s most recent acquisition, Aiqudo was purchased in February this year, whilst Atlas Wearables and Otari were bought late last year, Bloomberg reported. 

While the companies are small in size, Aquido built an AI-powered digital voice assistant whilst Atlas Wearables made fitness smartwatches that guide users through a variety of workouts.

The purchases will aim to enable Peloton to build new hardware that expands on its range of bikes and treadmills, and could also introduce the company’s first digital voice assistant with help from AI and computer vision technology engineers. 

John Foley, CEO of Peloton, believes that the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to changes in the way people exercise, with most now doing so from home.

“What’s clear is the shift into the home is not a COVID-led phenomenon. It has accelerated it. There’s a secular shift into business in the home.”.

“It’s a better experience and a better place at a better value, and consumers are all seeing that. Some of the research we’ve done on going back to the gyms and consumer perception vis-a-vis home workouts suggest that certainly, COVID has been a tailwind for our demand. 

“But in terms of demand for Peloton products and connected fitness in the home, we see continued momentum in the foreseeable future,” he said.

In December 2020, Peloton reportedly purchased fitness equipment provider, Precor, for USD$420mn.

It also acquired Silicon Valley engineering firm Gossamer Engineering, which helped design devices for Google and Facebook, back in 2019. 

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Jun 17, 2021

Facebook Develops AI to Crackdown on Deepfakes

Facebook
MSU
AI
Deepfakes
3 min
Social media giant, Facebook, has developed artificial intelligence that can supposedly identify and reverse-engineer deepfake images

In light of the large tidal wave of increasingly believable deepfake images and videos that have been hitting the feeds of every major social media and news outlet in recent years, global organisations have started to consider the risk factor behind them. While the majority of deepfakes are created purely for amusement, their increasing sophistication is leading to a very simple question: What happens when a deepfake is produced not for amusement, but for malicious intent on a grander scale? 

 

Yesterday, Facebook revealed that it was also concerned by that very question and that it had decided to take a stand against deepfakes. In partnership with Michigan State University, the social media giant presented “a research method of detecting and attributing deepfakes that relies on reverse engineering from a single AI-generated image to the generative model used to produce it.” 

 

The promise is that Facebook’s method will facilitate deepfake detection and tracing in real-world settings, where the deepfake image itself is often the only information detectors have to work with. 

Why Reverse Engineering? 

Right now, researchers identify deepfakes through two primary methods: detection, which distinguishes between real and deepfake images, and image attribution, which identifies whether the image was generated using one of the AI’s training models. But generative photo techniques have advanced in scale and sophistication over the past few years, and the old strategies are no longer sufficient. 

 

First, there are only so many images presented in AI training. If the deepfake was generated by an unknown, alternative model, even artificial intelligence won’t be able to spot it—at least, until now. Reverse engineering, common practice in machine learning (ML), can uncover unique patterns left by the generating model, regardless of whether it was included in the AI’s training set. This helps discover coordinated deepfake attacks or other instances in which multiple deepfakes come from the same source. 

 

How It Works 

Before we could use deep learning to generate images, criminals and other ill-intentioned actors had a limited amount of options. Cameras only had so many tools at their disposal, and most researchers could easily identify certain makes and models. But deep learning has ushered in an age of endless options, and as a result, it’s grown increasingly difficult to identify deepfakes.

 

To counteract this, Facebook ran deepfakes through a fingerprint estimation network (FEN) to estimate some of their details. Fingerprints are essentially patterns left on an image due to manufacturing imperfections, and they help identify where the image came from. By evaluating the fingerprint magnitude, repetition frequency, and symmetrical frequency, Facebook then applied those constraints to predict the model’s hyperparameters. 

 

What are hyperparameters? If you imagine a generative model as a car, hyperparameters are similar to the engine components: certain properties that distinguish your fancy automobile from others on the market. ‘Our reverse engineering technique is somewhat like recognising [the engine] components of a car based on how it sounds’, Facebook explained, ‘even if this is a new car we’ve never heard of before’. 

 

What Did They Find? 

‘On standard benchmarks, we get state-of-the-art results’, said Facebook research lead Tal Hassner. Facebook added that the fingerprint estimation network (FEN) method can be used for not only model parsing, but detection and image attribution. While this research is the first of its kind, making it difficult to assess the results, the future looks promising. 


Facebook’s AI will introduce model parsing for real-world applications, increasing our understanding of deepfake detection. As cybersecurity attacks proliferate, and generative AI falls into the hands of those who would do us harm, this method could help the ‘good guys’ stay one step ahead. As Hassner explained: ‘This is a cat-and-mouse game, and it continues to be a cat-and-mouse game’.

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