During our childhood, many of us probably watched episode upon episode of the well-known “Knight Rider” series. ‘Kit’ was a prime example of artificial intelligence aiding human activity.

To a large extent, that magical car addressed many childhood fantasies. However, as technological advancements accelerated, what we may have brushed off as a pleasant figment of our imagination is now coming to fruition.

AI is the next key technology enabler, comparable to mobile phones and the Internet before it. Indeed, AI is akin to electricity promising to revolutionize one industry after another. For those who work in the field, this comes as no surprise. For the public at large, it’s only recently that the veil over AI’s potential has begun to lift.

Today you see big giants like Google, IBM, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook moving in that very direction to achieve similar kinds of intelligence in machines and the world as of now is evolving to a stage where intelligent software and machines will think the way a human brain does, acting in accordance with human behavior.

Apple enjoyed the first crack with Siri, Google moved fast with Google Now, Amazon has Alexa, Facebook has its Chabot, IBM is investing heavily in Watson and Microsoft rushed to market with Cortana. Right from a smartphone app that recommends you a nearby fast food restaurant you might be interested in, to recognizing characters from an image, to Facebook’s photo tagging Algorithm that detects your face, to creating driverless vehicles, AI is everywhere and is deeply embedded in our lives without us realizing it.

Nearly 140 private companies working to advance artificial intelligence technologies have been acquired since 2011, with over 40 acquisitions taking place in 2016 alone. Google has been the most prominent global player, with 11 acquisitions in the category under its belt. Intel and Apple are tied taking up second place. (https://www.cbinsights.com/blog/top-acquirers-ai-startups-ma-timeline)


The AI start-ups are making huge impact in the international market capable of solving business problems. Below are some exciting AI startups as per the list created by On The Grid Now and CBInsights.


Location Funding


X.AI New York $34.3 M AI-powered virtual assistant that schedules meeting by saying goodbye to endless thread emails. Best of all, it lives in your email
Wakie Mountain View, CA $3 M Wakie is anonymous voice conversation app to find appropriate people to discuss any questions you may have.
The Grid San Fransisco, CA $6.1 M Uses AI techniques to custom tailor and automatically build a website based on customers input.
Enlitic San Fransisco, CA 15 M Enlitic is a deep learning company dedicated to improving health care diagnosis i.e.  Make doctors effective and accurate by providing actionable insights from billions of clinical cases
Automated Insights Durham,NC 10.8 M A natural language generation platform that produces human sounding narratives from data
idavatars Mequon, WI $1.14 M Creators of industry leading Avatar apps for healthcare, powered by IBM Watson to help take care of customers and patients
Phrasee London England $1.32 M Uses artificial intelligence to generate and optimize your marketing language
Sentient San Francisco, CA $144 M AI platform that employs to a number of verticals
Ayasdi Menlo Park, CA $98 M Help companies to use artificial intelligence and Big Data to make employees hundreds of times more productive and to drive fundamental breakthroughs that are beyond the capabilities of humans.
Digital reasoning Nashville, Tennessee $76 M Leaders in cognitive computing and build software that understands human communication and extracts insights from it

Pakistani Start-ups/Companies

Workmatec, a Pakistani startup has developed an all-in-one chat platform, to tap the communication requirements of the internet user-base. A platform named as Kazola, aims to offer much more than just a chatting environment. Botsify, creates Facebook messenger Chabot for your business/page without any coding. It just takes 5 minutes to setup your Bot. Step-by-step help is provided by the startup. They have a simple interface which helps create advanced and simple bots according to the customer’s personal and business needs; from integrations to making it intelligent. The product has already been published in Product Hunt, Venture Beat, TechInAsia and other popular magazines.

DCUBE help businesses across the globe to build technology products and platforms tailored to their needs. A team of experts working closely with Global brands to help with their on-going product development and innovation needs in ecommerce, Data Sciences, Retail Innovation, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented and Virtual Reality.  DCUBE has leadership and SME’s located in USA, with off-shore support and delivery team in Pakistan.

Red Buffer provides data sciences services and builds customized cloud and mobile applications. In Particular they are focused on predictive analytics; machine learning; information indexing, classification and processing, sentiment analysis and natural language querying solutions driven by machine learning, natural language processing and big data. The core focus of our customized cloud and mobile solutions is to build products for startups in engineer strapped Silicon Valley and to provide presentation layer for data science solutions.

CricFlex, incubated at TIC NUST, is the world’s first patented wearable technology for cricket. An arm sleeve, embedded with sensors, is worn by the bowler and it instantaneously determines the legality of action, displaying the results on a smart phone. CricFlex is a low cost, simpler, portable, accessible and quicker solution to the issue of illegal actions.

Once, CricFlex will have a diverse and substantial user base, CricFlex will be able to make predictions and assessments (using machine learning algorithms) regarding injuries, player strengths /weaknesses and performance.

FarmersLab, a startup which had been working closely with Farmer’s network to bring forth solutions that could give a boost to our agriculture industry. Farmer’s Lab had worked on their first product- iFarmer, which has three modules. The sensor devices installed in farms judge the moisture, pH, humidity, and fertilizer levels. It takes all these readings which are then sent to the associated cloud. The iFarmer’s Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence algorithms interpret the incoming data which is then analyzed and appropriate suggestions are sent to the farmers.

Currently, Farmer’s lab has no team and is looking for further funding to enhance the prototypes developed.


NIRF has been using its platform to promote research culture in Pakistan through funding R&D projects. Below is a list of few projects with a budget of around 52 million which have in one or the other way used AI techniques and algorithms to develop a solution.

1- Electricity Theft Control with Real-time Billing Framework utilizing Information Communication Technologies

This project is about design and implementation of a prototype system for electricity theft detection and avoidance, automatic billing, loss calculation and control.  This project is an amalgamation of software and hardware design with wireless detection and transformation of data to a centrally managed database installed at an appropriate location. During the Project various AI algorithms have been developed which are listed as below:

  • AI algorithms for electricity pattern prediction and management.
  • Electricity usage pattern is analyzed using AI algorithms for detection of administrative losses.
  • Electricity usage pattern is analyzed using AI algorithms for detection of administrative losses.
  • Neural networks for scheduling of smart metering data and Neuro evolutionary algorithms for electricity tariff prediction for multi-tariff resources integration

The PI has already submitted a proposal to NIRF for standardizing and commercializing the developed prototype system.

2- A Secure and Intelligent Transportation System Using Wireless Sensors for Congestion Control

The project developed wireless sensors to amalgamate and utilize data in order to measure the road traffic congestion in urban areas to investigate, propose and implement the most appropriate queuing algorithms to regulate traffic and ease the congestion in traffic hotspots during busy hours. The AI Algorithms used in the project for scheduling and traffic predictions and developed wireless sensors resolved traffic congestion issues to a large extent.

This Project has a huge potential and the PI is willing to take the project to the next level provided funding is made available.

3- Automatic Surveillance System For Video Streams

This project will develop systems that will enable automatic surveillance of videos and give text based description of the videos to be used for monitoring and security. This project uses image processing and artificial intelligence techniques for automatic understanding of video streams while keeping a check on storage needs of streaming data. In addition, textual description of the video sequence will be generated using natural language processing which will save huge storage requirement.

Currently, research work on four modules is in-progress (1) Face-detection & recognition (2) Age Detection (3) Gender Detection (4) Human Detection & Recognition (5) Emotional Detection & Recognition which are using Deep Learning, Manifold learning, machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence approaches.

Way Forward

That time may not be far, when AI devices will carry out the analysis of the human body; the illness will be also diagnosed and cured in the same way. The entire body checkup will be done within a few minutes and reports will be automatically compiled.

Above is just an example of one health sector, these innovations will bring benefits to several sectors, and to society as a whole. Al is going to change our lives for the better as machines learn, reason, act and adapt — transforming industries by amplifying human capabilities, automating tedious tasks, and solving some of our most challenging societal problems.

Thus, if machines can process huge amount of historical and real time data and learns over time to get better and better, the power of AI is nothing short of magical, bringing a lot of positives for human mankind.