Q&A With Vinay MK, Co-Founder of PathPartner

Vinay MK
Vinay MK

We sat down with Vinay MK, co-founder of PathPartner, to talk about how AI can impact the auto industry, from safety assist algorithms like driver distraction detection and drowsiness estimations to Smart AI cameras and using ADAS and DMS to reduce fleet owners risk.


Describe what your company does in 256 characters (a Tweet’s length)

Vinay MK: ” PathPartner helps organizations build advanced technology products leveraging our full-stack product engineering services, re-usable solution accelerators, and an unparalleled experience in transforming innovative ideas into full-fledged product.”


How did you get involved in this industry?

Vinay MK: “PathPartner has been working in the automotive domain for more than eight years now. Our proximity to the top semiconductor companies helped us open doors with automotive Tier-1s. With the growing importance of software in automotive designs, our interest in this domain also gained strength.”


What made you think of the idea/what inspired you to create your technology?

Vinay MK: “Signal processing, imaging pipeline, algorithm optimizations, embedded AI, and machine learning have all been core competencies since the inception of the company. Driver (and occupant) monitoring became a natural choice in 2015 when we realized the potential of leveraging our core-competencies to fulfil safety-critical use cases as recommended by the regulatory bodies and rating agencies.”


How is this going to benefit people/society?

Vinay MK: “Safety assist algorithms like driver distraction detection and drowsiness estimations are poised to save a lot more lives on the roads than any other technologies (like autonomous driving) in the near future. Along with camera, radar-based interior sensing systems detect infants and small pets that are left behind in the car unattended. These technologies have the potential to save hundreds of lives every year from challenges such as children left behind in cars.”


What’s innovative about your company and technology?

Vinay MK: “PathPartner is possibly the only company that licenses both camera-based and radar-based interior sensing algorithms. This gives us enormous leverage in combining these sensors for higher accuracies and more comprehensive use-case coverage. Single vendor for both stacks also reduces significant project management overhead and schedule-overrun risks to our customers. Our technology offering basically is deep learning models that have been highly optimized for low memory and computation. This makes them most suitable for low-cost chipsets. PathPartner’s 3D landmark models are so well optimized that they can run in real time on an auto-grade, ultra-low-power ISP co-processor with sub $10 price for high volume productions.”


How, in your opinion, has your industry changed in the past 5 years?

Vinay MK: “Driver monitoring and interior sensing market has undergone a tectonic make-over in the past five years. It has become mainstream technology from being a technology of interest to a small segment of the market. In large parts, the credit deservedly goes to the NCAP rating agency. Euro NCAP and China NCAP have shown leadership positions in proposing additional points to car OEMs for adopting safety technologies like driver monitoring and child/pet left behind. Seat-belt usage detection is another area rapidly gaining importance. This market is slated to grow manifold in the coming years, with significant interest and investments set aside by OEMs and Tier-1s.”


What has COVID done to your company/industry? Has it been affected? Does your solution assist with the pandemic?

Vinay MK: “COVID has basically affected the passenger mobility market & shared mobility too. Understandably new car makers have taken a massive hit in the year 2020; ENCAP has also seriously considered pushing the deadlines for DMS adoption by a year. This has further delayed decision timelines by car OEMs by a couple of quarters.”

“On the other hand, the logistics market has taken off during the COVID crisis. This has led to a huge scarcity of experienced drivers for commercial fleets. Adopting ADAS and DMS has become inevitable for fleet owners to reduce the risk of hiring new and unknown drivers. We recently licensed our DMS stack on SmarterAI camera device platform. We are also seeing a huge growth in our aftermarket product targeted for trucks and commercial fleets.”


Describe the future of your industry. What does the future hold? What is society going to look like?

Vinay MK: “With software gaining prominence in the automotive world, AI and analytics will significantly enhance customer experience and generate newer revenue streams for the carmakers. Interior sensing from user experience, entertainment, and passive safety point of view shall emerge as the primary feature.”


What plans do you have coming up?

Vinay MK: “We shall continue to invest in data collection, enhancing intelligence and making market partnerships to be part of global top-five player, as an automotive interior sensing (driver and occupant monitoring) technology provider.”


What would your advice be for people trying to get into your industry?

Vinay MK: “This is an exploding market and there are bound to be many new entrants from adjacent industries. The automotive industry itself is undergoing a conceptual shift from mechanical-driven to software-driven industry. Adoption of 5G and EVs shall throw up unforeseen use cases, making newer business models feasible. It’s a VUCA world with endless possibilities, be agile, be responsive.”



Vinay MK

Vinay is a co-founder of PathPartner, currently serving as the VP of Product and Marketing. With work experience spanning over two decades, Vinay has worked in various roles and domains. He has written over seven technical papers that were published in various international conferences. Vinay’s interest spans primarily over signal processing and embedded systems