Introducing Nomtek Labs — Our Jab at Staying Disruptive
The world we live in is far from being idle. Technologies and industries evolve rapidly, with maddening speed at times. When Nomtek was founded in 2010, Apple was selling the iPhone 3G. It was the company’s second iPhone and the first to use the 3G network.
We hopped right in, to participate in the development of the mobile world.
3 megabits per second — that’s the dizzying speed 3G promised. Sounds bleak compared to 100 megabits per second possible with 5G. But that’s how fast mobile life was spinning back then.
The Android ecosystem itself was also in its early stages. In October 2009, Android Eclair (2.3) was released, with Motorola Droid reigning as the most popular mobile phone.
By today’s standards, it was a strange-looking smartphone, with a hidden keyboard at that.
Much and more has changed since Motorola Droid’s reign over ten years ago. IT systems have become denser, more complex, and more accessible.
Take a Japanese farmer who, in 2016, created a system that uses AI to classify cucumbers. Sophisticated technology such as deep learning has become increasingly present in areas commonly associated with manual labor.
3G was soon replaced by 4G in developed countries, dramatically improving network connectivity and changing how people consume content. 4G helped Netflix conquer the world of streaming services, giving users access to favorite films and series at home or on the go.
All these new connectivity technologies, more efficient chips, and the evolution of augmented and virtual reality can cause a reverberating wave of changes for industries and people across the globe.
At nomtek, we always knew that investing in our development was the best thing we could make, hence the idea for nomtek labs — our answer to the rapidly evolving world.
As a company made of people who relish discovering innovation, we don’t intend to stand behind or rely solely on old technologies and methodologies.
We are tech enthusiasts who love exploring new sectors and playing with technology.
At nomtek, everyone can participate in a number of initiatives that boost knowledge and develop skills. We have internal weekly guild meetings, free time for self-development, and budget for workshops and conferences.
Nomtek labs is one of these initiatives.
How Nomtek Labs Began
Nomtek labs is not a new idea, however. It was founded in 2016. One of the first labs activities was playing with Emotive — an EEG device that lets you control your computer with your brain instead of a computer mouse.
And so over the last 5 years, we have created numerous gripping activities, projects, and prototypes. We have learned tons of new technologies, some of which we have implemented into our nomtek portfolio.
Here are a few examples.
Air Quality Tracker
The dreadful air quality in 2017 urged us to build a prototype of a pollution tracker. Integrated with Twitter, the tracker sent current air pollution statuses to people.
To spice up things at the office, we’ve built a smart mirror that to this day shows us the weather.
We’ve created multiple chatbots. For example, a trip recommendation chatbot or sports events chatbot that provides updates.
Currently, at nomtek labs, we’re working on tech prototypes that will support our partners. We’re exploring the possible usage of new yet immature technologies and frameworks to see how they affect sectors and industries.
We continually follow trends and news. Recently, we decided to open our technology news newsletter for every tech enthusiast. Every week, we send out a list of the most interesting news from last week.
We’ve opened ourselves up to cooperation with the academic community. Our team organizes diverse projects where we validate appealing concepts together with ambitious students.
In cooperation with the city hall of Wroclaw and as a part of the Mozart project, we’ve been working on a deep learning model that recommends potential business relations based on past collaboration between companies.
We work closely with professor Dariusz Król and a student association group from the Wroclaw University of Technology. The project runs from October 2020 to October 2021.
As part of labs research, we developed a simple AI model that recognizes skin changes from smartphone photos. Our goal was to learn and immerse ourselves in computer vision.
The model we developed was only a prototype, but it was enough to validate the idea and move the project forward. During our internship program, we asked ambitious students to use the AI model and build a production-ready mobile app in Flutter — the app was built for iOS and Android.
If you’re a fan of Lego bricks, you probably know about the Brickit mobile app. If you’re not familiar with it, Brickit lets you scan lego bricks and generate the new lego sets you can build. The app works astonishingly — its quality and model accuracy are top notch.
We’ve been experimenting with something similar to Brickit at nomtek labs. Eager to continue our journey with augmented reality and artificial intelligence, we started our Lego AR project.
It wasn’t easy — we trained and built multiple models that use many architectures: our own, ResNet, and efficientNet. Finally, we decided to use the YOLOv5 object-detection architecture. We trained our model based on the photos of Lego bricks and blender models. Thanks to using the blender, we were able to fill our dataset with automatically generated pictures of models from different angles. This let us increase our dataset and save time.
Then, we built a prototype mobile app for Android that could help kids (and adults, of course) find specific Lego bricks in a pile of blocks.
Lego AI also helped us reveal and explore the obstacles connected with embedding the AI model inside a mobile app. The current limitation in the processing power of mobile devices, doesn’t let us test the project to its fullest (a mobile app can't use larger AI models).
Cooperation Is the Gist of IT
Nomtek labs is an initiative driven by exceptional people who truly engage and support the initiative. Without their engagement the initiative couldn't thrive.
The collaboration with young engineers brings us much joy and shows the kind of cool things we can accomplish together.
All of the above is our prelude for what’s to come — a designated place for all our labs projects. At nomtek/labs — n/labs — you can find what we’ve been up to in our highly exciting research and development department :)
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We work on prototypes that support our partners in exploring new opportunities with technology