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Nearly 4,000 light-years away, there’s a star called VY Canis Majoris. It is, in a word, huge. It’s 270,000 times as bright as the Sun, and if you plunked it down in the middle of our solar system, it would burn Saturn.

VY Canis Majoris is a hypergiant star. And perhaps it is no surprise that there’s a tech startup humbly eponymizing it: Hypergiant Industries, a company that aims, its website explains, to be “the guiding light that solves humanity’s most challenging problems.”

The company uses AI in a few different industries: It’s developed the Disaster Mapping System, geospatial software that picks out the hardest-hit buildings after a natural disaster using satellite and drone images, available open-source through an AI platform called Modzy. It’s also created a prototype augmented reality helmet which can detect and classify objects, and offers night vision and thermal imaging in addition to regular seeing. And it’s built a fridge-sized bioreactor prototype that uses AI to regulate things like air flow, light, temperature, and pH so that algae can sequester carbon dioxide and turn it into materials for biofuel. Oh, and it’s built kinda boring workflow efficiency software for companies like GE and Shell, plus a “Virtual Bartender” for TGI Fridays.

Hypergiant was founded just two years ago, in 2018, but the company has already worked with the likes of Booz Allen Hamilton, Shell, NASA, the National Reconnaissance Office, and the Department of Homeland Security. The company spun up so quickly in part because it didn’t just build from scratch. It fused already-extant elements: buying image-analysis companies, investing in AI developers, and scooping up space technology, in the service of delivering on its slogan: “Tomorrowing today.”

That all sounds pretty legit: Serious government agencies, serious firms, serious fortune, and Fortune 500. And that clout is probably part of why Hypergiant’s R&D division can, without risking too much blowback, now take a risk on something farther-out: UFO research. This may actually be more grounded, and profitable, than it sounds.

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Category: Science