LightOn Raises $3.3M

French startup LightOn has raised $3.3 million in seed funding for a new kind of optics-based hardware technology that improves data processing for artificial intelligence.

Leveraging compressive sensing, LightOn said its hardware and software can make AI computations both simpler and orders of magnitude more efficient. The technology, licensed by PSL Research University, was originally developed at several of Paris’ leading research institutions

For the past few months, LightOn has allowed a select group of beta customers access to its Optical Processing Units (OPU) through the LightOn Cloud, thanks to a partnership with OVH, Europe’s leading cloud provider. First users from both academia and industry have already successfully demonstrated impressive results on this hybrid CPU/GPU/OPU server, which has outperformed silicon-only computing technology in a variety of large-scale machine learning tasks.

The Paris-based company has raised money from technology-focused venture funds, including Quantonation and Anorak, which is headed by Greg Castle. Christophe Jurczak, managing partner at Quantonation, will join LightOn’s board.

Typical use cases currently include transfer learning, change point detection, and time series prediction.

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