The era of artificial intelligence is now and most technology giants are looking to harness the said technology. But, this grappling is no longer restricted to deep-pocketed giants but new entrants are also looking to grab a piece of the pie with their innovations. One such startup joining the AI cohort today is Mythic, who has announced a $9 million Series A capital infusion alongside the launch of its AI platform.
As per an official press statement, the investment round has been led by Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) with participation from Lux Capital, Data Collective, and AME Cloud Ventures. The fundraising round also led to the appointment of Steve Jurvetson of DFJ and Shahin Farshchi of Lux Capital to Mythic’s Board of Directors.
The company has worked its way through the technological development process by relying on grants and minimal angel investments. But, with their leapfrogging AI platform now ready for production, Mythic is adding fresh capital to its coffers to scale the engineering teams and launch the product to consumers.
Mythic, formerly known as Isocline, was born out of the Michigan Integrated Circuits Lab at the University of Michigan back in 2012. Headquarters in Austin, with another office in San Francisco, was launched by co-founders Mike Henry and Dave Fick. Towards the end of their graduation, the duo decided to explore an early opportunity in bringing AI technology closer to the chip.
With regards to the same, they developed some new deep learning inference model — based on hybrid digital/analog computation — to eliminate the need for costly processors and powerful GPUs. Their engineering team managed to down-size the computing module, as powerful as a GPU, to the size of a shirt button. Further, all other components required to perform AI tasks locally were assembled on a card-sized platform.
The company has finally converted on the early bet of bringing artificial intelligence capabilities closer to the chip. It had been aiming to develop an AI platform that wasn’t dependent on the cloud and could still include voice control, computer vision and other kinds of AI services locally. Mythic succeeded in doing just that. Talking about their innovative solution, Mythic co-founder and CEO Michael Henry said,
Other local AI solutions compromise on what consumers and commercial companies care about – battery life, throughput, and accuracy. We saw early on the opportunities afforded AI from processor-in-memory technology and new methods of computing outside of the binary 1 and 0 world. This would become a foundation for the Mythic platform that revolutionizes local AI design and performance.
As most of you must be aware, AI processes are generally carried out in the cloud because of the need for intensive computing power and processing speed. But, it has surely had its drawback, ranging from incompetence due to low connectivity or cyber attacks in the recent past. Several smart devices have already been accessed and connected to the Mirai bot army, leading DDoS attacks across the interwebs. And Mythic has eliminated the need for both with its software and microchip — yes, a single but powerful one.
Mythic has bagged a significant investor, as well as mentor, in the form of DFJ. The VC firm has infused capital into numerous giants like SpaceX, Tesla, D-Wave and others. This can be seen as a win-win situation for both. Speaking on the investment, Steve Jurvetson, Partner at DFJ said,
Mythic is pushing the performance boundaries of local AI so any device can become a true universal assistant. The way local AI is being engineered today is equivalent to trying to make a propeller plane fly faster by stripping down cargo, or adding 18 propellers – working with technology that stalled just doesn’t make sense. Just as jet design puts flight on a new trajectory, Mythic is doing the same for local AI.
Now, Mythic is planning its go-to-market strategy and will initially be targeting smart home devices, drones, sophisticated healthcare systems, and security & monitoring devices as well. And down the road, the company has impressive use cases in AR, VR, robotics, as well as autonomous driving vehicles. The future is bright for untethered chips capable of performing heavy AI tasks locally.
Mythic is currently forming an early-adopter customer group to test out its technology and will be ready to handle mass shipments by mid-2018.