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Polarr Raises $11.5M For AI-Driven Visual Content Enhancement

Polarr, a company which develops AI for photographic editing, has picked up $11.5 million in a Series A funding led by Threshold Ventures. Other participants included Cota Capital and Pear Ventures.

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Founded by Stanford alumni Borui Wang, Derek Yan, and Enhao Gong in 2014, San Jose-based Polarr has developed an application and software that allows users to edit their content with the help of AI.

CEO and Cofounder Wang told Crunchbase News that he initially became interested in photography after receiving a camera as a gift. However, the lower quality of his camera meant that Wang was spending a lot of time using editing tools to adjust and enhance his photographs.

After meeting at Stanford, the group decided to start a company that would allow people to more easily take photographs and enhance their content using smart technology.

“Derek, at the time, thought that in three or four years mobile phones would have really good GPUs and CPUs that would be able to run all the algorithms that I wanted [for photo editing] and that’s when we really got excited about the company,” Wang told Crunchbase News.

Polarr’s app, which is used for editing image photo and video content, can analyze the way that professional photographers enhance and crop images and videos, according to Wang. It has also been applied to content curation, with individuals using the technology to analyze and curate collections of photos.

Current mobile technology is not powerful enough to support personal reinforcement training, so Polarr’s technology is rolled out at a mass scale. However, Wang says that this is an area that the company is actively working on, and he expects phones to have the processing power needed to support unique algorithmic training on individual devices within the next 24 months.

Beyond individual subscriptions, the company also licenses its technology to hardware developers. Samsung, for example, has incorporated Polarr’s machine-guided shot suggestion into its new Galaxy S10 models. The interactive technology actively guides users while they are taking photographs.

“The problem that people are experiencing right now is fragmentation. Apple has its own hardware; Samsung has its own hardware; Oppo and Xiaomi have their own kind of configuration on their hardware,” Wang said. He said that the company is working on that challenge by partnering with multiple hardware developers and that one of its main engineering challenges is understanding the differences in sensor tech, thermal capacity, and battery efficiencies to create an AI that is operable on multiple different devices.

Wang said that Polarr has 4 million monthly active users on its app. About 30 percent of its customers are located in the U.S., 30 percent in China, and 40 percent in other areas of the world. The company plans to use its funding to tackle its engineering challenges, and to build out a robust infrastructure that works on multiple devices beyond iOS.

Illustration Credit: Li-Anne Dias

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