Blurred people on the street
#Identity Technology

A bright future

New Technology
4 Mins.

With the increasing sophistication and effectiveness of facial recognition technology, how can we ensure that the individual’s right to privacy continues to be protected? A young company in Berlin, called brighter AI, is using artificial intelligence to anonymize data without affecting its usefulness, paving the way to the safer, more technology-enabled smart cities of the future.

Many of us look forward to driverless cars and safer streets. Yet achieving both of these relies heavily on the use of video data and we may feel uncomfortable about images of ourselves being collected and perhaps misused. A Berlin-based tech start-up has developed a solution to solve this dilemma.

Established in 2017, brighter AI applies state-of-the-art artificial intelligence (AI) to anonymize data collected by video and CCTV cameras.

It applies two levels of enabling technology. The first is neural networks. These use complex algorithms to behave similarly to the human brain in recognizing patterns in collected data, such as images, sounds or text. They learn from their analysis of this data to solve particular problems or understand certain patterns of behavior.

Neural networks need data to fuel them; often that data can be personal. However, the collection of personal data is problematic because it may lead to identifying private individuals, opening them to intrusion and potential abuse. This is where brighter AI’s “Deep Natural Anonymization Technology,” or DNAT, plays a crucial role.

Anonymization of data

Shopping woman with anonymizing data ID protection
brighter AI’s innovative technology uses artificial intelligence to anonymize the data collected by video and CCTV cameras

Legislation such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) protect the public’s right to privacy.

However, this restricts the progress that can be made in developing certain types of data-dependent technologies, such as that used in driverless cars, for example. The DNAT developed by brighter AI solves this by automating the anonymization of such data, without weakening its usefulness.

Consequently, as brighter AI’s CEO Marian Gläser explains, DNAT protects individuals’ privacy. “By covering license plates and replacing faces with natural-looking overlays, DNAT is the only privacy solution for images and videos that is compatible with analytics and machine learning.”

“If you collect huge amounts of data,” he continues, “to train a model for a car to understand whether the human saw the vehicle, you need to have the original face, and you need to have the original eye gaze, such as where the person was looking. “You may need their age and gender but if you pixelate their face that wouldn’t work anymore. So the development of self-driving cars can’t progress with traditional anonymization.”

Applying the same technology to public transport systems, shops and shopping malls, brighter AI is opening the path to the safer, more technology-enabled smart cities of the future.

Protecting the right to security and privacy

In July 2019, G+D ventures invested in brighter AI because it could see how valuable this technology can become.

“We see brighter AI as a solution component for creating a balance between public security and data protection for our customers – fully in the spirit of 'Creating Confidence,’” says Michael Hochholzer, Managing Director at G+D Ventures, that invests in new innovations that complement G+D’s core businesses.

“We see brighter AI as a solution component for creating a balance between public security and data protection for our customers“
Michael Hochholzer
Managing Director at G+D Ventures

Marian Gläser agrees that the collaboration with secunet as the first partner within the G+D Group is a perfect match. Both firms can bring the benefits of new, data-dependent technologies to people all over the world, while their rights to security and privacy are protected.

Published: 19/05/2020

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