Orbit: Norwegian Artificial Intelligence as a Service

If you happen to be a Norwegian, Danish or Swedish journalist or any other type of content rich text manager, you’ll want to pay close attention to Orbit.

Orbit is a new startup from Norway which just launched a unique text analysis technology platform that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to recognize and understand languages (in their case that would currently be Norwegian, Swedish and Danish, though more are sure to follow). Orbit aims to facilitate the integration of background context, leaving the journalist more time and energy to focus on producing better content for their articles.

The fresh company is a spin-off of Bakken & Baeck, a Norwegian digital product development agency with offices in Oslo, Norway and Bonn, Germany, the latter of which holds particular importance since Orbit’s development is done there by Bakken & Bæck’s Germany-employees, a team with extensive backgrounds from the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence.

The development’s result is a technology that becomes more accurate the more it is used, and is trained using several billion words to be over 95 percent accurate, which for the Norwegian language is something quite unique.

Personally I’m well aware of the issues Orbit’s seeks to ease: whenever you write an article, you’d think all you have to do is just type away what you quietly narrate within your mind, filter out any horrendous grammatical errors and typo’s and boom, publish. The truth, however, is that a good deal of your time is spent around building context for the article, which can be either linking sources of information or connecting old articles to the new one, that is, as long as it’s relevant to the overall context of the piece. The reason for this is simple: good content is more engaging if backed up by data.

Orbit automates the data inclusion process by detecting key words and adding to them fact boxes and interactive elements based on external knowledge sources (unsurprisingly that would be Wikipedia). To further improve the hue of the text, Orbit can be set to create visual aspects to the story through a variety of infographs and connect older content to the new one, which is already a nice weight off a journalist’s shoulders.

But Orbit is more than just a language detector: it’s also a user experience enhancer, as well as a search engine.

Orbit can automatically create pages for topics (Culture, Technology, Politics etc..) and detect the language used in articles to classify them in their respective categories. This increases the pages SEO ranking and offers better related content to readers, hopefully increasing the time your visitors stay on your website to read your text.

Additionally, Orbit does content personalization through the self learning search engine with faceted search options, leading to more accurate search results and relevant recommendations.

“Orbit is an advanced technology for text analysis and the first of its kind in Norwegian. The technology may include recognizing and categorizing people, places and organizations within a text—thus increasing the quality and relevance of related articles, auto generate tags or link up to external sources for finding non-obvious connections. Already, we’re seeing several media companies creating new and innovative services based on Orbit, and the list of stakeholders is constantly growing”, says Gunnar Grimnes, lead developer for Orbit and Artificial Intelligence PhD.

We asked Bakken & Bæck’s project manager Espen Waldal how would the company position itself in terms of competition, to which he replied:

“Orbit is part of a group of AI tools that can help i.e. media companies compete with the likes of Google and Facebook (which are their new and resourceful competitors in the digital landscape). We are looking at some of the big artificial intelligence technology providers internationally like Gravity, Alchemy and Outbrain as maybe the closest comparable technology.”

Orbit will be headed by Stian Aldrin, a man with background from the Norwegian Management Consulting company Core Group. Aldrin was formerly CEO of Elliptic Labs, a pioneer in touch-less user interfaces for mobile, where he helped to commercialize the technology and build the company from the ground up.

“In addition to improving user experience of online newspapers, the technology will be able to sort and categorize large amounts of data, which will be of interest to companies with content heavy services, or companies that need a precise search engine for internal documents. By making advanced technology like Orbit available to more users, we will help create better and more valuable services for all”, says Aldrin.

Aldrin (right in the picture) is aiming to raise capital this fall to further support commercialization of the technology, primarily in Scandinavia.

“We also look outside Norway, and our initial ambitions is to take a leading position in Scandinavia during the next year. Technology based on utilizing “big data”, machine learning and artificial intelligence is in its infancy right now, and will play an increasing role in the future”, says Aldrin.

Artificial Intelligence image by Shutterstock