Spot AI emerges from the shadows with $22 million for a platform that extracts more insight from basic surveillance cameras

For better or worse, security cameras are an integral component of how many organisations monitor places in the workplace for security or operational reasons. Now, a firm has emerged from the shadows with money for technology that would make the footage captured by those cameras more valuable. Spot AI has developed a software platform that “reads” that video footage — independent of the type or quality of camera used to capture it — and makes video captured by those cameras searchable by anybody who requires it, both through words and pictures in the frames captured by the cameras.

Since 2018, Spot AI has been quietly developing its technology and client base, and it already has hundreds of customers and thousands of users.

Spot AI has announced a total of $22 million in investment, including a $20 million Series A led by Redpoint Ventures with participation from Bessemer Venture Partners, as well as a prior $2 million seed round from Village Global and Stanford StartX. (where the three founders studied). The identities of other investors are kept a secret.

The gap in the market that Spot AI is aiming to fill is one created by some of the most legacy technology used by organisations today: a huge number of security cameras are in use in the workplace today, usually set up at entrances to buildings, in office buildings themselves, and in fa (for example, machines, doorways, rooms and so on).

The problem is that many of these cameras are analogue set-ups, and regardless of whether they are older or modern technology, the video they generate is of a very basic type. It’s there for one-time use; it’s not indexable, so earlier video is lost; and it frequently doesn’t operate as it should. Indeed, security camera video is so underutilised that people generally only notice how poorly something works (or does not operate at all) when they need to see it (only to discover it is not there). And some of the more sophisticated solutions that do exist are prohibitively expensive and unlikely to be rapidly embraced by the larger market of non-tech, analogue businesses.

Furthermore, security cameras have a negative reputation, which is exacerbated by their complex, prominent position in video surveillance systems. Backlash occurs as a result of how they are deployed in public spaces — sometimes in the name of public safety, but nonetheless as silent watchers and recorders of everything we do whether we want them to or not — and how private security video footage is seized once it is captured. In certain situations, such as when Amazon’s Ring has shared footage with cops, this is done on purpose. Some of it is accidental, as seen by the recent discovery of hackers gaining access to and uploading footage from another firm developing business video solutions.

Tanuj Thapliyal, CEO and co-founder of Spot AI, said in an interview that the company is entering the aforementioned industry with the best of intentions. The startup’s idea is that security cameras are already essential, and the goal is to figure out how to use them more effectively for objectives other than security, such as health and safety and keeping operations running smoothly.

“You change it from this concept of surveillance to this idea of video intelligence if you make the video data [generated by these cameras] more valuable and available to more people in the workplace,” said Thapliyal, who co-founded the firm with Rish Gupta and Sud Bhatija. “It can assist you in making a variety of crucial decisions.”

There are three aspects to the Spot AI system right now. The first is a set of cameras that Spot AI provides as a free option to any of its clients, which they may maintain even if they stop working with Spot AI. These cameras, which are 5MP IP-based devices, are meant to improve video feed quality, however Thapliyal points out that the Spot AI system can operate with footage from any camera if necessary.

The second component is a network video recorder, which records footage from all of your cameras. These are edge computers with AI chips that process and begin interpreting and classifying video collected, converting it to data that can be analysed.

The third component is a dashboard that allows users to search through a company’s video archives using keywords or processes, as well as create frames and alerts on live feeds to mark when something happens (for example, a door opening, or a person entering a space, or even something not working as it should).

The idea is that as time goes on, this aspect of the video service will grow more complex (and indeed there are more features being added even going from stealth into GA). While there are a variety of IoT solutions that can assist monitor linked devices, Spot AI’s proposition is that it can be more tuned in to how connected and unconnected objects are moving.

Spot AI’s easy-to-use technology is accelerating the consumption of video data across all businesses, big and small. It is accelerating forward at a fast pace and will create a history. All my best wishes to them.

Shishir Gupta, Founder and CEO, StartupLanes

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