Dallas Business Journal: Feb 8, 2013, 5:00am CST
ImageVision’s software aims to keep kids’ smartphones safe
photo by Jake Dean
‘Parents seem to be more comfortable in giving their car keys to a 16-year-old than giving them a smartphone,’ says ImageVision co-founder Mitch Butler.
By Ghianda Becerril, Staff Writer
About five years ago, Mitch Butler, co-founder and chief operating officer of ImageVision, realized that his daughter was not safe from the exposure of inappropriate content through social media and technology.
After his 13-year-old daughter received a mass text message containing nude images, Butler, along with CEO Steven W. White, decided to try to help other parents put a stop to similar situations while educating them about the risks of social media.
“That text made me realize that even if a kid is a good kid, that kind of thing can happen,” Butler said. “We have developed software that will help protect that individual.”
Dallas-based ImageVision builds software that identifies explicit images, videos and texts within computer servers and mobile devices. The company’s newest software, EyeGuardian, also detects images and texts in social media. It’s a tool for parents to help their children be safer on Facebook, Butler said.
“Parents seem to be more comfortable in giving their car keys to a 16-year-old than giving them a smartphone,” Butler said. “We want to help parents have a dialogue of being safer online.”
EyeGuardian allows parents to keep track of friends, tagged images, liked posts, messages and photo albums containing threatening language or suspect activity.
Parents can monitor more than one profile on the software. “Parents are able to log in to their account and keep track of their child’s Facebook activity through our technology,” Butler said.
Gabriella Draney, executive director of Tech Wildcatters, a startup accelerator company based in Dallas, said that online security is extremely important. “You have to know that it lasts forever. It is important to know what is being put out there.”
The algorithms created in the software email or text a parent when there is suspicious activity on a child’s account.
“Our greatest challenge is developing algorithms to develop accuracy. Because what we are doing visually has never been done before, we face a lot of skepticism,” Butler said.
The ImageVision team is now working on integrating the same technology with Instagram and Twitter.
While EyeGuardian is only for Facebook, ImageVision is selling the same technology to other companies looking for logo detection, text detection and even object recognition.
“On a photo-sharing site, our technology can detect images with object recognition. For example, someone who uploads a picture of their dog can be connected to other dog lovers. It is these visual analytics that we are providing to companies,” Butler said.
This type of technology can help provide a better experience for the user, according to Butler.
Jon Shapiro, director of cyber security at the University of Texas at Dallas, says it’s important for parents to understand how children behave on the Internet.
“The technology problem is still in the way,” Shapiro said. “While this software is only part of the solution to preventing cyber bullying and cybercrime, parents need to take a much more active role in the education process. Even really educated people can be compromised and attacked today.”
Business: Online security image detection
HQ: 312 N. Powell Parkway, Anna, TX 75409
Top Executive: Steven W. White
Annual Revenue: $2.5M
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