September 20, 2007 Part of the fascination with emerging technologies is wondering just where they will take us, and when the application of new ideas is given a dose of lateral thinking the results are often surprising. This new service from Geosemble is a case in point. Making traditional telemarketing look about as sophisticated as two tin cans with string, GeoPrism is the first sales lead generation service using artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to automatically generate sales leads based on satellite imagery (think Google Earth).
GeoPrism works by assessing satellite images to find houses with particular features such as swimming pools, cracked driveways, roofs in need of repair and big empty backyards. It then cross references with city data to identify the names and contact details of the occupiers of the homes. Geosemble then sells the data to interested companies such as pool maintenance operators, roof tilers, concreters, outdoor furniture manufacturers, etc. The ability to automatically extract image data and fuse it with contact information quickly creates a large volume of highly targeted sales leads for Geosemble’s customers.
“What we do is integrate information from multiple maps and online datasets into one ‘supermap’ that gives you deep information on the area of interest quickly and automatically,” explains Dr. Craig Knoblock, Chief Scientist for Geosemble Technologies. GeoPrism does this using machine-learning and AI-based techniques for the automatic feature extraction of satellite imagery. A product called Market Star allows the program to “understand” what it is seeing then the company’s patented “Digital Rubber Sheeting” technique automatically links the imagery to address and location data. Information agent technology then automatically locates, extracts and integrates information from publicly available “deep Web” sources to generate the key details needed for Geosemble’s clients to contact their potential new clients.
Geosemble has resulted from years of research funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Air Force, The Department of Homeland Security and other U.S. Government agencies. The core mapping functionality has helped these government agencies make informed, often mission critical decisions but for commercial use it creates some serious ethical issues. To avoid phone telemarketers or email spam people can have a silent number or spam filter, however a giant shield to create a veil of privacy over your own home to block out this type of personal intrusion is probably not viable. This is all very new and only time will tell what civil libertarians and privacy experts have to say on this issue, but one thing is for certain - the technology will always take us to unforeseeable places.