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As everyone acclimatizes to COVID-19 in their lives, people across industries seek to carry on as before, albeit with technology that can help us maintain the required distance from things. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been a big help in many areas; video AI is one of them.

Video AI finds its relevance across all industries, including manufacturing, real estate, logistics, foodtech, and FMCG sectors.

To understand the significance of video AI in solving real-world problems today, The Tech Panda spoke to Atul Rai, Co-Founder and CEO of Staqu, video AI implementation company. He says that one of the biggest challenges we face today is in restoring normalcy.

Atul Rai

People simply want to live the life they were enjoying before the pandemic, however, within the purview of social distancing. Now, we have to achieve this with minimum human intervention

“As social beings, we have an intrinsic desire to step out. But certain things need to be in place for that to happen. Businesses should be able to open shops and people must be free to join workplaces. People simply want to live the life they were enjoying before the pandemic, however, within the purview of social distancing. Now, we have to achieve this with minimum human intervention,” he says.

Here, video AI proves to be an enabler.

“You can keep a tab on Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) remotely, ensure adherence to guidelines, and all of that with minimum human intervention. The true significance of the solution lies in its utility. Video AI is today helping simultaneously automate several processes to extract valuable insights in real-time. So, whether it is business intelligence or security, it makes sure that nothing gets overlooked.”

Rai reveals that Staqu has experienced a 1,000% increase in terms of deployment over the last six months. He predicts that as the economy continues to open, this figure will only grow with it.


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“There has been a huge uptick in demand for video AI solutions ever since COVID-19 surfaced. It holds for all big and small organizations and other players in public dealing. Given the value that it directly creates, the significance of the technology has increased manifold,” he says.

Staqu Origin

Founded in 2015 by Rai, Chetan Rexwal, Anurag Saini, and Pankaj Sharma, the startup raised a US$500,000 seed funding round from the Indian Angel Network (IAN) in June 2016. They also won the Tech Rocketship award announced by the British High Commission.

“Any startup in India working in the SaaS domain always desires to access the European and the US market. Partnering with the British High Commission is part of our global expansion plan,” Rai says.

Staqu is bringing AI into day-to-day decision making across domains, be it security or big data analytics, using their ever-evolving research and engineering products. They create an AI-enabled society where businesses rely more on human intelligence to bring in innovation while ensuring complete automation across their business units.

“The journey so far has strengthened our global ambition and now with JARVIS, we have started reaching international players,” he adds.

Staqu’s COVID-19 Response

Staqu has recently announced an array of offerings to facilitate superior COVID-19 response. The brand is leveraging its proprietary video analytics platform JARVIS to roll out cutting-edge use-cases aimed at COVID-19 identification, suspect tracing, PPE monitoring, security, safety and hygiene analytics, and people analytics.

Video AI is today helping simultaneously automate several processes to extract valuable insights in real-time

The startup is in talks with 20 companies and has closed five contracts already for the solution. It has also been invited by NITI Aayog, Government of India’s policy think tank, to be part of the COVID-19 committee. Last month, Staqu collaborated with Microsoft, bringing its video analytics solutions on Microsoft Azure.

Moreover, Dineout has collaborated with Staqu to extend its AI-powered COVID-19 combat suite to Dineout partner restaurants, to render specialized analytics on restaurant operations and bring live feed to the diners, helping them monitor safety parameters in the kitchen.

JARVIS

JARVIS automates the entire process of monitoring workplaces. The product can be integrated into existing CCTV cameras to shoot automated, crisp, and real-time alerts with designated stakeholders when it detects violations.

The power of AI, when combined with computer vision, is helping businesses conduct social distancing checks

“In other words, you don’t need a human to keep a check on SOPs 24×7. The power of AI, when combined with computer vision, is helping businesses conduct social distancing checks, drive hygiene checks (cleaning and sanitization), face mask identification, fever identification (when clubbed with a thermal infrared camera), and perform contact tracing if needed,” Rai explains.

JARVIS can also perform its functions – including facial detection – with low-resolution video feeds. It can even stream via a simple smartphone camera.

Pioneering Approach and Constant Innovation

Rai says that, in a market filled with AI, Staqu’s USP lies in their pioneering approach and constant innovation.

“Staqu is a pioneer with a research-oriented mindset deep-rooted inside it,” he says.

Mixing the audio analytics with video makes our proposition stronger and unique

So far, they have published more than 25 research papers out of which four have been published this year itself.

“Mixing the audio analytics with video makes our proposition stronger and unique. We have also scored an accuracy of 98% on the Vox Celeb dataset in audio analytics, which is the best in the world,” he says proudly.

Vox Celeb is an audio-visual dataset, comprising short clips of speech curated by the University of Oxford.

The startup counts names like MI, Coca Cola, Paytm, Lava, Hungama, Yepme, Wipro, Bing, JioSaavn, Trade India, and more, among its partners.

Market Challenges

The AI market was not without challenges when Staqu entered. AI was a buzzword, but businesses were still not very keen to deploy the technology at the production level. To change their reluctance towards adopting technology was a challenge initially. Also, despite having a great AI-driven solution, they realized that they were quickly depleting their resources.

 

“It was when we decided to showcase our programs at various platforms that things started to change. We stood fourth at the IBM GEP SmartCamp in 2015 and we attracted the right eyeballs. This helped us crack our first deal. But the market was more nuanced than we thought,” Rai reminisces.

The key focus area for operations was still the image-based Big Data analysis. So, they developed image search and understanding solutions for various industry players.


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“We later realized the immense potential in the homeland security market, which was rife with products from Russia, Israel, China, alongside others. We developed a solution that overturned their reign in the market, and there has been no looking back since then. Today, our AI-driven products are leveraged by everyone from government bodies and security agencies to MNCs and startups, including unicorns,” he says.

“Empowered by our proprietary AI technology, we are bullish to democratize our video analytics platform JARVIS to target safety, security, and audio-visual analytics in the country and the global market. So far, we are the only company in India scaling with government, enterprise, and unicorns,” he adds.

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