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Russian tycoon and telecom executive back “better-than-Google” face recognition

Russian start-up NtechLab, which creates “algorithms as intelligent as humans and as efficient as machines,” has raised $1.5m

May 25, 2017
Led by Impulse VC, a venture fund which is reportedly affiliated to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, the funding round has also involved such individual investors as Alexander Povorotov, a top executive at mobile operator Tele2 Russia.

However, the operator itself is not involved in the deal, Mr. Povorotov specified.

The details of the transaction have not been disclosed, but Vedomosti has learned that the new investors will receive a minority stake in the company.

Launched in 2015 in Moscow by Artem Kuharenko, NtechLab has developed FindFace, an application which is presented as "the world’s most accurate facial recognition technology for face detection, verification and identification."

The FindFace technology is built on deep learning and a neural network-based architecture. In November 2015, NTechLab won the MegaFace Benchmark, a world championship in face recognition organized by the University of Washington. The challenge was to recognize the largest number of people in a database of more than a million photos. With a recognition accuracy rate of 73.3%, the Russian start-up bypassed more than 100 competitors, including Google with its program FaceNet.

So far, the app has been integrated with Twitter, allowing its users to find a random person’s page in social network after taking a photo of him in the street.

The FindFace app has also been made available to the police, the military, intelligence services, ministries and large corporations in several Middle-Eastern and Asian countries.

In Russia, it is integrated with the leading local social network Vkontakte (VK).