“I’ve been working in the technology industry for over two decades and have seen the tremendous potential of AI and Machine Learning,” explains Origami founder Hiroshi Doyu. This potential, when paired with the persistently high demand for efficient and cost-effective solutions across multiple industries and the rise and continued growth in both prevalence and capacity of IoT connected devices with AI & ML capabilities, should rightly mean that AI & ML ought to be integrated in nearly all everyday devices. Yet in many cases they aren’t. Why?
Some of the persistent challenges limiting the adoption of these systems across a wider range of use cases are their dependence on continuous connections to cloud data centres for processing, the costs related to both deploying and maintaining these systems and connections, as well as the complexity associated with managing device clusters that can at times be extremely heterogeneous.
Origami, one of the teams in the University of Helsinki’s NEXUS incubator for Deep Tech, AI & Sustainability, is working to address all these issues and truly help businesses of all sizes the opportunity to implement cutting-edge technologies into their offerings so as to fully realise the potential that led Doyu to found the company.
At the forefront of their solution is TinyML, a new frontier in the fields of AI and ML which allows for ML models to be run directly on small IoT devices such as microcontrollers, sensors, and other edge devices most notably without being dependent on a connection to the cloud – a noticeable advantage when compared to current AI & ML systems. By integrating ML into the device, TinyML allows for new opportunities in automation and innovation in everyday applications. As Doyu himself says, “the rise of TinyML is nothing short of remarkable. It’s a game-changer.”
Using TinyML, the Origami team has been building a TinyML as a Service system, or TinyMLaaS, which would not only allow their customers the benefits of running small AI systems directly on their IoT devices, but also give them tools to easily orchestrate & maintain these various TinyML systems in a unified manner with up-to-date ML models. All this without having to worry about network connectivity and other issues, making AI a valid tool for a considerably wider range of applications than it currently is.
“The cloud-less and network-less approach of our TinyMLaaS platform makes AI accessible and it opens up numerous research opportunities as well,” explains Roberto Morabito, Origami’s Chief Technical Officer and Senior Researcher in Computer Networks and Ubiquitous Computing at the University. “It’s this innovative approach to AI and the potential we have to revolutionise the way that businesses operate that drew me to Origami.”
In addition to the cost savings Origami promises its users thanks to its cloudless nature, the team also sees potential cost savings in TinyML deployment as the SaaS nature of their offer means no upfront costs. Furthermore, the team believes it can provide its customers with more efficiency compared to other potential service providers thanks to their team of experts, who can provide both access to the latest TinyML models, as well as guidance and support to get the most out of their systems.
However, as the team envisions a future where many companies that have never used AI before taking their first steps in introducing the technology into their products thanks to Origami’s TinyMLaaS platform, one key element has been to design user experience in a way that makes it easy and intuitive. As Chief Design Officer Michihito Mizutani explains, “I saw an opportunity to use my design skills to not only improve the user experience design of our platform, but also help companies that are approaching AI and our product for the first time to integrate it in a seamless and user-friendly way.” The result is a unified interface that makes managing different hardware and software environments simple and ensures interoperability in even the most heterogeneous setups.
And while Doyu sees potential applications for their platform in fields such as Industrial IoT, Manufacturing, and eHealth, he explains that the solution has been built with adaptability in mind. After all, his motivation in founding the company was to provide businesses in as many industries as possible access to a cost-effective way to integrate these cutting-edge technologies, and he remains passionate about the impact that Origami’s TinyMLaaS platform can have.
As the NEXUS programme approaches its final, the team, which consists of Doyu, Morabito, Mizutani, and Chief Marketing Officer Kumiko Takimoto, is feeling ready to launch themselves into the world. Thanks to the programme and their NEXUS mentors, Perttu Tuomaala of Neste Engineering Solutions, and Samuli Salmela of DB Schenker, the team feels like they’ve managed to learn the required skills to turn their solution into a start-up and have greatly benefited from all the guidance they’ve received.
“We’re honoured to have had the chance to learn from Perttu and Samuli’s experiences and be a part of their networks,” a grateful Doyu explains. “Their expertise, insights, and advice have been instrumental in helping us turn our blurred vision into something closer to reality.” Morabito concurs, adding “We’re grateful for the opportunity to partner with them on our journey to bring TinyMLaaS to the world. We believe that the support and collaboration of our mentors will continue to be crucial in helping us achieve our goals, and we're excited to see what the future holds for Origami.”
The two mentors share the team’s enthusiasm for Origami’s TinyMLaaS, with both seeing tremendous potential in the cutting-edge technology across many industries. “My experience in the manufacturing industry has shown me the importance of digitalisation and automation, and I believe that TinyMLaaS has to potential to help businesses in this sector become more efficient and sustainable,” Tuomaala explains. Salmela concurs, adding “I believe that it can help businesses and organisations to seamlessly move towards a more efficient, effective, and sustainable AI.” At the same time, both agree that it’s been fun to be part of the motivated team’s exciting journey building a new business and how happy they are to see it grow.
Thanks in part to all the support they’ve gotten during the programme, the Origami team is looking onwards to the future, and are in talks with a company for a piloting project of their TinyMLaaS platform in the realm of predictive maintenance and diagnostics. As they explain it, TinyMLaaS can help companies detect anomalies in their equipment through vibration analysis before they become major problems and perform maintenance and repairs before costly breakdowns occur, significantly reducing costs & increasing equipment uptime.
“Through this project, we want to demonstrate how our TinyMLaaS solution can provide real-time insights and predictions, even in remote or disconnected environments,” Doyu illustrates. The project, he hopes, will be the first in many concrete examples of how their solution can be implemented in real-world scenarios, and act as a springboard for future activities and growth.
If you’re interested in finding out more about TinyMLaaS, you can read the team’s white paper here, and get in touch with the team by reaching out to them on LinkedIn. The team at Origami is excited to find new ways of helping companies say goodbye to the limitations of cloud and network dependencies and find new ways for them to exponentially grow their businesses.
Hiroshi Doyu, Origami’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), is a system software developer, researcher and long-time Linux kernel contributor. He has founded Origami after spending more than 20 years in product development and contributing to the upstream Linux kernel development for more than a decade, including the Nvidia Tegra SoC. Before embarking on this journey, he worked at Ericsson. He received his M.Sc. in Aerospace engineering from the Osaka Prefecture University, Japan. Hiroshi is passionate about technology but also loves to play floorball and ice hockey.
Roberto Morabito, Origami’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO), is currently also a Senior Researcher in Computer Networks and Ubiquitous Computing at the Department of Computer Science of the University of Helsinki. From May 2014 to April 2022, he worked at Ericsson Research Finland in the teams of Cloud and System Platforms and IoT Technologies and Cyber-Physical Systems. He received a PhD in Networking Technology from Aalto University (Finland). He comes from Italy and, against any stereotype, he loves football, pizza, and espresso.
Michihito Mizutani, Origami’s Chief Design Officer (CDO), is currently Design Lead at Kone. He is a Pi-shaped designer with business, technology, and design skills. He has been working with colleagues from sales, marketing, developers in the multidisciplinary teams and delivered products and services together. He is also very active in hands-on communities and has won a couple of hackathons by leading teams and pitching ideas to the leadership in business. He also loves mentoring junior designers and students who have big ambitions. He has previously held multiple senior/lead design and creative technologist positions in several companies including Nokia, Microsoft, and Siili Solutions
Kumiko Takimoto, Origami’s Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), works as marketing consultant and experienced CMO at Wakasa Seikatsu Co., Ltd. a dietary supplement company in Japan. She has twenty years wide experience in handling international business development and human resources.
Perttu Tuomaala's passion is to help manufacturing industries become sustainable by leveraging automation and digitalisation. Perttu is Vice President at Neste Engineering Solutions, where he leads NAPCON - a business unit offering a series of unique software that reveal the untapped potential of production, processes, and professionals in process industries.
Prior to leading NAPCON, Perttu's 22 year career has included working for companies such as ABB, Metso Automation (nowadays part of Valmet), and Ensto managing sales, industrial services and products. In addition to Finland, he has studied or worked in France, the United States and Belgium
Samuli Salmela is constantly looking for new ways to make things better. He has been working in various business and IT leadership roles in global logistics since 2003 and currently works as Head of Digital Transformation, Region Europe at DB Schenker.
Being passionate about new technology and human centric leadership, Samuli focuses on helping organisations and the society to become better every day. He focuses on exploring emerging concepts and technologies such as the Metaverse and on making sustainable impact with those that are already mature for use at scale, such as AI.
He currently chairs the digitalisation Group of Service Sector Employers Palta and the Innovation and Digitalisation Group of the Finnish Freight Forwarding and Logistics Association.
Samuli holds a BSc from Helsinki School of Economics and an eMBA from Aalto EE.