Fast Forward Labs Spotlight

To celebrate our critically-acclaimed exhibition Silicon City and highlight New York City’s central role in the tech industry’s future, we’re profiling members of its burgeoning digital community. We recently sat down with Kathryn Hume, director of sales and marketing at Fast Forward Labs, who explained its mission to help companies, both big and small, build new products.


This is our tech graph, a digital whiteboard, where we track technologies that interest us, as well as the connections between them. As an applied research company, we focus on discovering ways new abstract capabilities can be made useful as powerful products.

What is the mission of Fast Forward Labs and how did the company come to be?

I am the director of sales and marketing at Fast Forward Labs. We are an applied research company that helps large enterprises and small startups build new products from machine intelligence capabilities that are just becoming possible. CEO Hilary Mason founded the company in 2014 to provide a new vehicle for applied research at the intersection of academia, young startups, and large enterprise communities.

Tell us about a project you’re currently developing or recently launched. How will/is it impact/impacting the tech industry and New York City at large?

Building prototypes is a key part of our research process, as we help our clients understand our research topics in thorough, technical detail. One recent prototype turned into a public application called, “Pictograph.” Pictograph enables computers to recognize objects in photos without any metadata or hashtags, allowing users to understand what their friends are most often capturing on camera. This technology is taking-off across popular social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. In creating Pictograph, we wanted to help New Yorkers understand how this technology will affect their daily lives, as well as to illuminate how we represent ourselves through photography on social media.

What makes New York an ideal home for the tech industry?

New York is a great city for the tech industry for the same reason that it’s a great city to live in. The Big Apple attracts top talent across a wide range of industries. It’s enriching to build a company in a place where everyone is at the top of their game in their field. For a company like ours, it’s also wonderful to be in such close proximity to our large enterprise clients. We help organizations build data-driven cultures, and it’s important to be able to meet frequently in-person to help them achieve their machine-learning and data science goals.

What do you envision as the future of tech in New York City?

We’re noticing that it’s becoming easier to start a company here and are excited about the opportunities that this will generate in the near future. The data science community is expanding every day, and there are multiple groups and meet-ups taking place, where young talent can get involved and push their imaginations to build amazing products. We also firmly believe that understanding the history of technology is crucial to its future success, especially as programming becomes more and more abstract. There is no better place than New York City to keep an awareness of the past and present in our future.

Follow Fast Forward Labs on Twitter: @fastforwardlabs