Alum Gus Nalwan innovates for a better future
A year and a half ago, a group of developers got together for a few hours each week and built a prototype for the art image recognition engine called Cyclops. Amongst these innovative individuals was idea originator and driver, Agustinus “Gus” Nalwan (BCompSc). At that time, he was a lead iOS developer at carsales.com.au. Thanks to this project, carsales now has a tool that automatically selects and assigns angles to each image uploaded to their website.
With about 100,000 photos a day coming from private sellers and car dealers, no longer needing to manually categorise them all is a huge time and cost saver. Not only that, Cyclops makes possible a smart comparison of images. ‘Users can now visually compare, for example, the backseat photos of a Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5 and Ford Kuga without having to reorder or sort the images’, explains Gus.
The success of Cyclops convinced carsales to formalise and seriously invest in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) team that Gus now leads. As AI and Machine Learning – Technical Development Manager, he now runs the AI research and development team, inventing and building AI technologies that can integrate with the company’s services.
‘I’m involved in discovering ways to turn AI tech into products that improve user experience and provide value to the business’, adds Gus. ‘I also mentor and provide technical direction on AI and machine learning across the teams at carsales. And I share my knowledge by speaking at various AI conferences’.
Gus takes special pride in having created Cyclops 2.0, which can outperform humans in recognising car make, model and body. Even trim. A ‘seller can now identify their car by simply snapping a rear photo – previously, they had to go through a series of painful steps to do this’, says Gus. ‘I hope to take this tech even further to know every single detail (such as sunroof, rear sensor, leather seat, colour and damage) through a photo’.
‘I believe the best user interface is no user interface at all’, he quips.
Gus also loves robotics. ‘I’m very interested in anything that can be used to build tools to improve our future. And robotics and AI are a match made in heaven. AI can be very smart, but a physical body allows it to do more useful things, like defusing bombs, delivering parcels, cooking and cleaning’. He toys with robotics at home, as a hobby.
Now working in the world of IT for a number of years, Gus offers a survival tip: ‘You need to be willing to learn every day. Otherwise, you’re in the wrong industry. IT moves very quickly. What’s popular today may no longer be used five years from now. But if you’re passionate about what you do, you’ll have a lot of fun even when you’re at work’.
If work feels like fun, you must be doing something right.