US and The Netherlands exemine Automatic Sight

Above: A Dutch soldier during the drills. Source: Dutch Ministry of Defence

The US Army and the Royal Netherlands Army recently conducted live trainings examining the Smash 2000 Fire Control System of Smart Shooter from Kibbutz Yagur (near Haifa). The system is mounted on small arms, and zeroes in on the target using AI-based image processing to assist the soldier to shoot more accurately. The US Army tested the system by firing on ground targets, while the Dutch army tested its drone-interception capabilities using small arms. Both armies characterized the exercises as successful.

The Dutch exercise was carried out at a military facility in the town of Harde (Netherlands), with the participation of combat soldiers from the air force, navy, and the special forces. As part of the exercise, they were equipped with Colt rifles which were outfitted with Smart Shooter’s Fire Control System, in order to test whether it allows infantry soldiers to eliminate low flying drones using their personal weapons.

The soldiers fired at drones of various types and sizes from a distance of up to 165 yards. The company stated that all targets were eliminated. The Dutch Ministry of Defence has also issued an official announcement about the experiment, seemingly hinting at the strategic importance it assigns to the system. Smart Shooter estimated that the success of the two trials constitutes a significant milestone in introducing the solution to the world’s leading armies.

Small arms take down a drone

Dr. Abraham Mazor, VP of Marketing and Development at Smart Shooter, told Techtime that the exercise is the result of four years of working together with the Dutch army. “The Dutch army has examined the functioning of the system in its operational scenarios and in accordance with the threats it faces. The exercise was defined as a success according to the criteria they set. I believe it will lead to the acquisition of the system”. According to Mazor, “The simplicity of the system stood out no less than its accuracy. The soldiers arrived without prior experience, and after a short instruction of several minutes were able to take down drones.”

Drones that were shot with small arms equipped with Smart Shooter’s Fire Control System
Drones that were shot with small arms equipped with Smart Shooter’s Fire Control System

Drone interception using small arms is one of the key scenarios which interest armies around the world. Recently, the US Department of Defense (DoD) incorporated the system in the Counter Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (C-sUAS) program. Mazor: “Our system provides a response to this new kind of threat. There are many systems that know how to take care of drones. However, there is no system that allows a soldier to independently intercept a drone without supporting systems such as a remote radar.”

“The existing systems are based on disrupting drones by electronic means. In the future, drones will be autonomous, without a communication unit or GPS, and in a formation of a drone fleet, and therefore electronic warfare will be less effective. Militaries understand that, and some are considering the possibility that in every combat platoon there will be a trained soldier who can intercept drones.”

The rifle ceases to be a “Statistical Weapon”

Smart Shooter was founded by two former members of Rafael’s missile division, CEO Michal Mor and CTO Avshalom Erlich. It has developed the Smash Fire Control System to be mounted on top of every assault rifle using a rail. The system zeroes in on the target using electro-optical sensors and monitors it using AI-based image processing algorithm.

SMASH 2000 Fire Control System on top of an assault rifle
SMASH 2000 Fire Control System on top of an assault rifle

An automatic tracking allows the soldier to aim effortlessly, and when the weapon is positioned at the right angle – the trigger is released automatically. Mazor: “Smart Fire Control Systems will become an integral element in all modern combat perceptions. The rifle cannot continue to remain a statistical weapon. We upgrade the level of infantrymen to the world of missiles: at the technological level, in the perception, and in production and assembly.”

Jumping targets within 440 yards

The exercise conducted by the United States Army took place during September 14-24 at the APG training facility in Aberdeen, Maryland. During the exercise, the soldiers were equipped with assault rifles which were outfitted with Smart Shooter’s Fire Control System and fired thousands of magazines at stationary, moving, and jumping targets at ranges of 25-440 yards. At the end of the exercise, the accuracy rates were compared to those typical of using standard sights.

The exercise was funded and supervised by the Army Combat Capabilities Development Command. Smart Shooter is currently active in about 15 countries, mostly through subsidiaries or local representatives (in the US and Germany), as well as through collaborations with security contractors such as Thales in Australia, TBM in the Netherlands, and Opto S&D of the Akaer Group in Brazil. “We are in the midst of a very extensive marketing activity, which includes demonstrations and procurements.”

3d Signals expands its presence in Germany

Photo above: Installing 3d Signals’ sensor in a production line. The digitization begins with data collection

The Kfar Saba-based (near Tel Aviv) 3d Signals, which has developed a solution for digitalization, monitoring and analytics of manufacturing machines, has reported that since the beginning of 2020 it had increased its installing base in Europe, and especially in Germany. Germany’s industrial sector is prominent in the production of heavy machinery, automotive, electronics, engineering and chemicals – and is ideal candidate for 3d Signals’ solutions.

The German industry constitutes the company’s main target market, where it is active via a local subsidiary located in the Frankfurt area. 3d Signals’ VP of Marketing, Danya Golan, told Techtime that COVID-19 crisis strongly affected business continuity in many factories, who urgently needed remote managing capabilities. “During the crisis, we have generated new customers in Europe and are providing them with online support,” she said.

The pilot program led to a new direction

3d Signals was founded in 2015 and has raised $26 million to date. The company was recently selected to participate in the prestigious Technology Pioneers program of the World Economic Forum. It started by developing a platform for forecasting malfunctions in industrial machines, based on external acoustic sensors. The solution aroused great interest in the industry, but a pilot program with industrial partners proved to be a disappointment: The insights it had produced gave only limited value to the production managers.

Danya Golan, VP of Marketing at 3d Signals
Danya Golan, VP of Marketing at 3d Signals

Danya: “Predictive maintenance is today a big buzz in the industry, but sometime the value of these tools is quite limited. Our system, for example, knew which component was going to break down in which machine. It was very impressive, but it did not contribute much to the ongoing operation of the entire production line”.

Following lessons learned, the company recalculated its vision, and transformed itself from sensor-oriented to system-oriented provider. It abandoned the focus on acoustic sensors and malfunction prediction, and adopted a digital approach to allow factories to transform themselves from “stupid” factories to “smart” ones; a system suitable for any production machine, regardless of model or role of its independent units.

The “Smart Factory” is not so smart

The term ‘Industry 4.0’ has been around for several years, but is far from being wide spread. According to Cisco, less than 10% of the tens of millions of manufacturing machines in the world are connected to a communications network. “Without digitization, there is no basic infrastructure that allows for visibility, and there’s no data to operate Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning algorithms or any other kind of analytics.”

Unlike other solutions in the market, than can be very costly and complex, 3d Signals works with an unobtrusive platform based on external sensors which are easy to operate and to install. In fact, it takes less than an hour to complete a full connection of an industrial main machine. “Even basic information is sufficient to make a significant change. We monitor the machines from the outside by using sensors such as a current transformer or an acoustic sensor, to learn whether or not the machine is functioning.

“Within 48 hours of the installation, there is a unified monitoring dashboard for the entire factory. Today our technology is focused on the algorithms and presentation of information in such a way that both the CEO and the floor manager can understand. Our data shows that our customers had improved their output by 30% within 3 months of launching the platform.”

The screen shows 3d Signals' analytics in the production floor
The screen shows 3d Signals’ analytics in the production floor

Intel and Microsoft Promote Security Standard for AI

Last week, Intel and Microsoft brought together nearly 100 security and Artificial Intelligence (AI) experts to discuss new standards for Homomorphic Encryption (HE), which is emerging as a leading method to protect privacy in machine learning and cloud computing. The HE standards workshop took place on Intel’s Santa Clara, California campus. Following the first meeting in October, 2018, Intel and Microsoft initiated the founding of the group.

As more data is collected and used to power AI systems, concerns about privacy are on the rise. Casimir Wierzynski from the office of the CTO of AI Products Group at Intel, said that Intel is collaborating with Microsoft Research and Duality Technologies on standardizing HE, “to unlock the power of AI while still protecting data privacy.”

Fully homomorphic encryption, or simply homomorphic encryption, refers to a class of encryption methods envisioned by Rivest, Adleman, and Dertouzos already in 1978, and first constructed by Craig Gentry in 2009. Homomorphic encryption differs from typical encryption methods in that it allows computation to be performed directly on encrypted data without requiring access to a secret key. The result of such a computation remains in encrypted form, and can at a later point be revealed by the owner of the secret key.

It allows AI computation on encrypted data, thus enabling data scientists and researchers to gain valuable insights without decrypting or exposing the underlying data or models. This is particularly useful in instances where data may be sensitive – such as with medical or financial data.  Homomorphic encryption also enables training models directly on encrypted data, without exposing its content. Such encryption would enable researchers to operate on data in a secure and private way, while still delivering insightful results.

Walmart Acquired Natural Language Startup Aspectiva

Walmart adopts Artificial Intelligence software to enhance the end-to-end shopping experience. The company announced that it has acquired Aspectiva, an Israeli-based start-up from Tel aviv, for an undisclosed sum of money. Aspectiva will be joining Walmart’s Store N8, the incubation arm launched by the retailer in 2017 to uncover the ideas that will transform the future of commerce.

Aspectiva has built an Artificial Intelligence software suite to analyzes consumer opinions and turning them into valuable insights in order to help eCommerce visitors to make informed decisions resulting in increased online conversion rates. By applying deep Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning, Aspectiva surfaces what people say about any product and understands what they feel about it. The software automatically identifies product attributes shoppers talk about by analyzing massive volumes of user generated content.

Aspectiva was founded in 2013 by Ezra Daya, Eyal Hurwitz and Yoad Arad. Prior to founding Aspectiva, The CEO Ezra Daya managed the global Text Analytics group at NICE Systems. The CTO Eyal Hurwitz is also a veteran of NICE Systems where he served as a senior scientist and led innovative initiatives, including international collaborations. Yoad Arad, VP Business Development, held senior sales roles at Clicktale, McAfee (Intel Security) and ECI.

“Aspectiva has developed incredibly sophisticated machine learning techniques and natural language processing capabilities, which are areas we believe will have profound impact on how customers will shop in the future,” said Lori Flees, Principal of Store N8. This is not the first activity for Walmart with Israeli-based technology companies. It has also made a strategic investment in Team8, an Israeli think tank and tech incubator, launched a joint venture with Eko, an interactive media and technology company with offices in Tel Aviv and New York, and recently joined The Bridge, a technology accelerator connecting global companies with the start-up community in Israel.