Popsa appoints leading data scientist to enhance creativity


Popsa, the UK tech retailer start-up that helps you record your life stories by instantly creating professional photo album designs, has appointed Dr Chanuki Illushka Seresinhe as its lead data scientist.

A very active member of the data science community who is widely regarded as a thought leader, Seresinhe has been brought in to lead and grow the data science team at Popsa, which is developing technology to leverage the latest data science and AI techniques to improve their users’ experiences and delight them with innovative products.

In addition to leading the team, Seresinhe will be instrumental in driving forward projects and initiatives that will help to revolutionise the industry, while designing machine learning and AI algorithms in unique and innovative ways, to avoid a ‘one size fits all approach’ and ensure they don’t inherit our own human biases.

Seresinhe has previously undertaken a range of creative data science projects, which have provided fascinating insights that are shaping her thinking for Popsa. She has conducted research into human wellbeing, contributing the first large-scale evidence demonstrating that the beauty of the environment is linked to wellbeing. She has also exploited deep learning to build algorithms that can successfully predict how humans rate the beauty of photographs of outdoor environments. These projects provide the foundation of two areas we want to explore at Popsa –  to detect which image is most beautiful from a series of photos as well as understand the role that photos of enjoyable experiences play in our long term wellbeing.

Seresinhe’s role will see her working alongside various teams within the business, including product designers and mobile app engineers to create algorithms that work in real-time on users’ mobile devices to help them seamlessly tell their stories with photos – without them getting bogged down in the tech. Seresinhe and the team will apply machine learning and data science techniques to help users quickly discover the best photos from even the largest photo library, enabling them to curate their collections of photos into beautiful printed products in a matter of seconds.

“Chanuki’s wealth of data science expertise and her background in design and training in behavioural economic science, gives her the unique ability to apply creative solutions that will ultimately deliver a better experience for Popsa’s customers.

‘She has an intuitive understanding of how to design AI algorithms in a way that can be caleverly integrated into a user journey – without it becoming a distraction to the user, which is key as we’re always looking at ways to enrich human experience, not detract from it. In addition, her role as a visiting researcher at the Alan Turing Institute allows us to stay at the forefront of our industry and provide our customers with the very latest technological developments.

“We’re confident that her creative approach to problem solving and her ambitious goals for the role will challenge the conventional wisdom accepted by others in our field,” said Tom Cohen, CTO at Popsa.

He continued: “The photo printing category is trapped in an old paradigm: a pre-internet world of representing all of society through stock imagery and universally understood (predictable) life events. Popsa recognises how special our individuality and idiosyncrasies are, and we see that the world – and each of our individual lives – are made of stories and it’s their depth and variety that makes life interesting.”

Commenting on the appointment, Seresinhe said: “I am thrilled to join the Popsa team. They are truly changing the way the photobook industry works, and their heritage in tech means their products are mobile-first and designed with world-class user experience in mind. I’m excited to work with a brand that’s as passionate as I am about using technology in clever ways to provide a seamless experience in the user journey.