The company’s founder, Parham Aarabi, associate professor of the department of electrical & computer engineering, is hoping the move will spark greater interest in AR and AI studies and produce local talent in the growing field.
An IDC report forecasts that the AR and virtual reality markets will be worth $162 billion by 2020. A Markets and Markets report estimates that the AI space will be worth more than $16 billion by 2022.
ModiFace builds advanced facial visualization software for the beauty and medical industries. The company’s technology powers over 100 AR applications by Fortune 500 brands including Sephora, L’Oreal, Allergan, Vichy, and Clairol, among others.
“The future of ModiFace is highly dependent on our access to the best AR engineers in the world,” says Aarabi. “For AR, it takes about a year for a new graduate to get up to speed with the latest concepts in artificial intelligence, systems engineering, and computer vision. As a result, we want to invest in students early while they’re still in school to start giving them the best training in these fast-moving fields.”
As part of U of T Engineering’s Professional Experience Year (PEY) internship program, ModiFace is hiring 50 undergraduate students into 12- to 16-month paid positions that allow students to gain extensive professional skills before graduation. Applications are now open, and the first cohort will start in May 2017.
“Toronto is a place where major AR research, development and commercialization is happening,” said Aarabi. “We’re investing in Toronto, and we hope to contribute to a snowball effect – if 100 companies repeated this, it would benefit all 100 companies and make Toronto the epicenter of the AR revolution.”
The company is also launching ModiFace research internships, modelled after successful research programs by top tech companies in the U.S., which will allow graduate students to complete an enriched research internship during their master’s or Ph.D. studies. A total of 10 graduate students will be undertaking these internships in the next two years. Simultaneously, ModiFace is establishing a research grant program to support industry-partnered research in fields from artificial intelligence and deep learning, to computer vision and graphics.
“This investment in enriched experiential learning opportunities for our students further reinforces the strong relationship between the excellence of our innovative engineering programs and the thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem around us,” said Cristina Amon, dean of the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering.
“The initiative dovetails with our government’s innovation strategy, including the recent launch of Ontario’s Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence, which will help Ontario continue to attract top talent and strengthen our province’s innovation and knowledge-based economy,” said Reza Moridi, Ontario minister of research, innovation, and science.
The Vector Institute is a multidisciplinary research and commercialization hub that aims to solidify Toronto’s place as a global AI destination.
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