Software that can tell a friendly neighbour from a criminal

  • Jun. 14, 2017 3:30 p.m.

Who they are: Deep Sentinel, a Pleasanton, Calif.,-based home security startup backed by Shasta Ventures.

What they do: Use artificial intelligence to patrol the outside of your home and alert you to potential intruders.

Why it’s cool: Deep Sentinel pairs AI with off-the-shelf cameras. The startup’s software recognizes potential threats in the video footage — distinguishing someone stealing your mail from a neighbor walking their dog, for example — and alerts you to them in real time. That means unlike with a traditional security camera, you don’t have to spend all day watching the video footage for it to do any good.

“Most security cameras today are what we call ‘crime recording devices,’ ” co-founder and CEO Dave Selinger said, “and crime recording just isn’t very valuable.”

Deep Sentinel’s technology also is designed to eliminate the false alarms that plague other home security systems. In 2015, the Santa Clara Police Department received 3,591 dispatch requests from triggered burglar alarms. Of those, only 35 were valid — the rest were false alarms, the police department wrote in a post on neighborhood social networking site Nextdoor.

Deep Sentinel’s technology is about 99 percent accurate, Selinger said. It uses the same type of technology that self-driving cars use to navigate objects in the road, and Facebook uses to identify people in photos.

Ultimately, Deep Sentinel hopes to not only alter you to threats, but also to issue some kind of deterrent to scare away bad actors. That could be anything from turning on automatic sprinklers to sending in a remote piloted drone.

Where they stand: Deep Sentinel raised $7.4 million in a series led by Shasta Ventures in April. The company plans to launch a new version of its product for beta testing in three to six months, and to bring it to market early next year.

Only in Silicon Valley:

It’s another startup that promises to deliver fresh, made-to-order meals using wholesome ingredients. Only in this case, they’re not for you. They’re for your dog.

The Farmer’s Dog, based in New York (and backed by Silicon Valley-based Shasta Ventures), is on a mission to provide dogs with “real food” instead of kibble that’s been sitting on a shelf at the pet store for weeks or months. Dog owners can customize the recipes according to their pets’ size, taste preferences, activity level and health needs. The Farmer’s Dog takes those selections into account and ships pre-cooked meat and veggie blends to the owner’s door.

Not surprisingly, it’s not cheap. It would cost me about $41.50 per week to feed my two Chihuahua mixes, Sam and Frodo — that’s more than three times what I pay now for their fancy salmon and sweet potato kibble from Petco.

Run the numbers:

Experts have spilled plenty of ink speculating about how Facebook impacted the 2016 presidential election (fake news, anyone?). But what about Snapchat? In the month before the election, more than two-thirds of regular users of the disappearing messaging app watched live news and other content about political debates, according to a study released recently by the Knight Foundation. And 38 percent said they learned something new about the presidential election from the app — though only about a third follow news organizations or political figures.

And despite the fake news controversy surrounding Facebook, 46 percent of regular users who subscribe to a news channel on Snapchat say the app helps the media’s credibility, compared to just 26 percent who said it hurts credibility. That could be because people feel they can trust journalists and politicians more when connected with them directly and seeing them through live video, according to the study, which surveyed 977 people.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has something to say to the investors betting that his company will tank, after Investopoedia reported recently that Tesla is the largest shorted stock in the U.S. (even though the electric car maker’s stock was up 65.4 percent year to date).

“These guys want us to die so bad they can taste it,” Musk tweeted in response to the story. “Just wish they would stop sticking pins in voodoo dolls of me. That hurts, ok?”

Some of Musk’s die-hard fans rallied around him after that sad tweet. “You should make a voodoo doll of yourself and give it a nice backrub,” one fan tweeted back.

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