Covering Disruptive Technology Powering Business in The Digital Age

Home > Archives > News > This team of young Aussies is revolutionising big data
This team of young Aussies is revolutionising big data
August 4, 2016 News


This artificial intelligence system doesn’t just see and understand our world, it also helps to make it better. Whether that be scanning for staff happiness levels in an office, sounding the alarm when a patient falls, or even identifying the fastest checkout chick, Ani sees everything.

It’s the product of a group of young Aussie entrepreneurs, Black AI, who’ve created the ‘Ani’ system. Ani can detect events and gather insights into how we interact within our environments, from recognising individuals to analysing movement and social behaviours. Essentially, it’s an incredibly efficient system which sees big data and makes it small enough to manage.

Michelle Mannering, one of the main drivers behind Ani, recently spoke about the innovative system at the ‘Start Tel Aviv’ competition, which is run by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Tel Aviv Municipality. The competition is run annually and involves applications from startups across 30 countries. The winning startup is invited to the Tel Aviv Innovation Festival, where they can pick the brains of some of the tech industry’s most innovative thinkers.

Yep, the country once known for its specialist export of oranges has revamped its image as an influential startup nation.

Michelle spoke to Techly about the future of intelligent cities that Black AI envisions worldwide.

What inspired you to start ‘Black AI’?

We started at a hackathon and we originally wanted to build “Jarvis” (from Iron Man). The team was started to compete in some competitions and we very quickly spun out into a full company. We love working together and wanted to be more involved in the startup scene – what better way to do this than run your own startup.

The Start Tel Aviv competition was open exclusively to female innovators. Have you experienced any particularly challenging aspects of the tech and innovation space? How has your gender impacted/ or helped you?

I have not really experienced anything within the technology and innovation space. I’ve been relatively well known in this area before running my own startup, as the Hackathon Queen or Hackathon Goddess (a phrase not coined by myself), and therefore everyone has already seen me for who I am, not what I am. Within the startup community, most people are very open to diversity and women in STEM.

If anything, it’s particular individuals within large corporations who only see you for what you are and not what you’ve achieved. I always want to be seen for the person I am and the things I’m capable of doing, not what I am.

 Explain Ani’s functionality to your best friend.

Ani is a system that is able to ‘see’ the real world. It can understand and interpret our everyday environments, living us information on how we use spaces, who is in them, interactions of people with others and their environment.

How is Ani most useful?

Any environment that has a need for someone to manually watch their surroundings and gain information can use Ani. Relying on people to sit and count numbers of people or monitor individuals is timely, costly, and is often inaccurate due to human error.

We have built Ani from the ground up, with easy installation, and suitable for any environment, helping you live a smarter and easier life.

Ani is now capable of watching everything, reporting on it, and giving actionable insights into what is happening. This leaves people free to provide help where it is needed most.

During your presentation you mentioned that Ani is ‘broadly applicable’ to to the commercial areas of aged care, casinos and retail. These are all such unique areas. How would your product work within these spaces?

Instead of paying an in-home nurse to care for patients in their own homes, Ani can monitor patients, and then provide information to relevant doctors and family members in the event of an emergency (ie. Falling over, forgetting to take medication etc.).

In the retail environment, Ani can count numbers of people, provide demographic breakdown of customers, which areas in the store are most popular, which employees have a higher conversation rate based on their interaction with customers.

Entertainment and smart cities applications include counting unique numbers of people to understand who and what is using the environment, thereby using this information to optimise key spaces (ie. Traffic congestion, parks etc.)

 What’s next for Ani, and Black AI?

The first thing off the bat is the Microsoft Worldwide Imagine Cup finals – we’re off to Seattle on Monday to pitch at MS’s headquarters and take part in a week of competition, events, and networking opportunities.


This article was originally published on and can be viewed in full