ETTech | August 15, 2019

Vinod Dham, developer of Intel’s Pentium micro-processor and technology mentor, has taken part in a Rs 11.4 crore ($1.6 million) funding round in Orbo, a maker of artificial intelligence-based image enhancement software.

The investment, in Dham’s personal capacity, is in the company’s latest pre Series A funding round. YourNest Venture Capital and Venture Catalysts led the fundraising round, with participation from angel investor John Ason and existing investor Refex Capital.

Orbo, founded by Mumbai-based Manoj Shinde in 2015, makes software that enhances pictures and videos on mobile phones, laptops and display devices. It also helps improve low-light images, removes fog from security camera footage and cleans up noise from images captured by drones.

Dham, who is also the founder of venture capital firm Indo US Venture Partners, said Orbo was developing cutting-edge visual intelligence technology that has even compelled companies like Intel and Cisco to partner with it.

“AI in its current incarnation is evolving around improving visual intelligence. It’s all about object detection, image classification and segmentation,” Dham told ET in an exclusive interview. “Manoj’s company is at the epicentre of this…The solution can be incorporated in the browser of one’s laptop with almost invisible algorithm that’s enhancing the image on the screen.”

This has helped the company partner with Intel. “They (Intel) are riding on this particular algorithm to supply to HP, Lenovo, Dell and other companies for almost free to the end-consumer,” he said.

Orbo is part of Intel’s Maker Lab initiative and the fifth cohort of the Cisco Launchpad.

The company will use the fresh funding round to expand its research team to 30 from 12 AI scientists currently, and to hire sales and marketing professionals.

Orbo has also launched an AI-based technology that converts low resolution videos to either 1080p or 4K, Shinde said, adding it expects deals from the telecom, and media and entertainment industries. The technology is helping broadcasters provide better quality to low-resolution videos and video-on-demand in areas where internet bandwidth is slow, he said.

“It appears to be a sparse competition in the computational photography space where each one is focusing on building their own niche…We are in advanced automation trials with a number of global brands, tech companies and partners and hope to announce more deals later this year,” he said.

Girish Shivani, executive director and fund manager of YourNest Venture Capital said its focus on roping in companies that design deep technology and IP-led solutions led to this investment.