Alexa Anthony is the CEO of Magic AI, the Seattle-based company that introduced StableGuard, the world’s only AI-based monitoring system for horses. This product monitors horses round the clock and alert individuals on any odd behavior. Magic AI is unlike other startups that focus on human experiences. Instead, Anthony’s company is using computer-vision-based machine learning so that humans can understand the nonverbal forms of communication in animals.
Anthony grew up around horses. Her mother is the owner of a horse training and boarding facility in Redmond. She did show jumping as a young girl before she joined the University of South Carolina’s equestrian team, where she became a NCAA champion. Her sister is in the related business of training horses.
In 2012, colic struck Anthony’s horse, Magic. If one can detect colic early enough, horses can get timely treatment. Unfortunately, Anthony had no way of detecting the signs as her horse suffered through the night. She found him the next morning after suffering for 15 hours, but it was too late by then. A simple Banamine shot was all Magic needed if an early detection and correct diagnosis was done.
From an Equestrian to a Startup Entrepreneur
Anthony was training for the Olympics in her senior year of college, but a back injury disrupted her goal. She shifted direction and worked at Intellectual Ventures, based in Bellevue, Washington. The company helps startups and spinouts with patents. The idea for StableGuard came after she met entrepreneur Jacob Sullivan at Intellectual Ventures. While thinking of business models for different applications, they realized almost all the ideas were for humans. She brought up Magic’s incident and that conversation led to the possibility of non-invasive technology supervision of horses.
After leaving Intellectual Ventures, she decided to test the idea at a TechCrunch startup weekend for machine learning. Sullivan and Anthony ranked second among 12 teams. They sought the services of a computer vision expert and an architect that they hired to write the AI for the concept’s proof.
Sullivan believes there’s a lot of data to unlock “in watching humans and animals do different things.” While Magic AI is focusing primarily on StableGuard, he sees the technological potential in the underserved market related to horses.
How StableGuard Works
StableGuard goes beyond the typical way of installing the cameras and having someone monitor the camera feed. StableGuard’s convolutional neural net recognizes horse behavior. A camera in the horse’s stall enables a live video stream. From the stream, the machine learning back-end notifies the user based on previous long-term observations. Users can monitor the stream on their mobiles and check if their horses are well
Although the team sees the vast potential in horses, Magic AI intends to find other computer vision and machine learning applications in the future. They predict Google and Amazon will eventually expand their reach to horses and pets.