Matthew Elphinstone (20), who has been interning with NeuralStudio SECZ has successfully created a proof of concept for a device which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to recognise lionfish, an invasive species of fish which are now established along the southeast coast of the U.S., the Caribbean, and parts of the Gulf of Mexico. The prototype was designed during a “Summer in the City” internship placement. Now in its sixth year, the internship programme connects young Caymanians with internship opportunities throughout Cayman Enterprise City, Special Economic Zones (CEC).
Elphinstone, who is a 3rd year mechanical engineering student at Queens University in Canada, applied to the internship programme. During an interview with Jack Copper, the Managing Director of NeuralStudio, he initiated a conversation about how AI could be used to create a device to hunt lionfish. “I thought this was a great idea for a project and a fantastic opportunity to mentor a young Caymanian who is interested in applying AI to solve a genuine problem,” said Copper.
NeuralStudio, which has been part of the CEC Community since 2015, is about to launch an Azure (cloud) based portal which allows non-experts to exploit opportunities for AI within their organisations. Copper is mentoring two student interns this summer and his intern from last summer, Jamal Clarke, now works full time at NeuralStudio.
To create the recogniser, Elphinstone first studied how feature extraction (pattern recognition and image processing) could be applied in machine learning. He also spoke to members of the local lionfish hunting community to gain a better understanding of the of the invasive species, their habitat and behaviour. After creating a web skimmer which downloaded 1,000s of pictures of Caribbean reef fish including lionfish, he was able to train an AI which recognised images of lionfish and upload it to a device. Elphinstone then took the prototype on a test dive with the CEC Dive Club to see if the device worked. “I was so happy to see the blue light on the device successfully indicate reef fish and the red light signal that a lionfish was detected,” said Elphinstone. The next step in the project will be for Elphinstone to obtain additional training data and to further develop the design of an unaided trapping system capable of capturing lionfish and avoiding other aquatic life.
“I have to admit I was pretty overwhelmed when I began. Mr. Copper was able to guide me through the project and direct me to resources which helped me to successfully complete the proof of concept during my two-month placement,” said Elphinstone. “Being able to explore a subject like AI which sits outside of my direct field of study was invaluable. I learned a lot and I’m excited to apply what I’ve learnt when I return to university and continue my studies in mechanical engineering.”
“Matthew was able to successfully design and test a fairly sophisticated proof of concept utilising both hardware and AI software, which is impressive,” said Copper. “I look forward to what the future holds for Matthew, as well as the lionfish trapping system.”
About the "Summer in the City" internship programme
The “Summer in the City” internship programme is open to Caymanians and residents of the Cayman Islands between the ages of 18-25 and lasts for one to two months during the summer months. Areas of placement include: Internet Technology, Science & Technology, Commodities & Derivatives, Maritime & Aviation Services, Client Services & Business Operations, Marketing & Communications, Urban Planning & Development. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.