Of the many stands at Securex this year, Activeye was demonstrating Snap Guard, a cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI) service for those of us on a budget. Gerhard Furter, director of Iris AI (the company that develops and runs Snap Guard) spoke to us about the product.
The idea behind the product was to take the AI used for cloud AI services for large (and costly) projects, and make it available at a lower cost to smaller customers, from homes to residential estates and even office parks. The solution can be used with almost any cameras out there, offering motion detection and alarms in real time. The company offers the service for R60 per month per camera.
The low cost is viable because the cameras don’t stream video into the cloud, but send images at regular intervals to the Iris AI data centre – a level 3 data centre with failover and ample redundant connectivity. The AI system analyses the images and raises an alarm when something out of order is found, such as someone walking up the driveway.
Self-managed via chat
The benefit of Snap Guard is that it is self-managed. This means an alarm is sent to the customer’s Telegram or WhatsApp number with an image and a description of the event. A web-based dashboard is also available. Once the user receives the alert, they can press a button to tell the AI that it is not an emergency (based on the image), and the system will ‘learn’ from the experience to improve future alarms.
If it is an emergency, the user can take whatever action is deemed necessary (such as calling an armed response company or pressing a panic button). A sister company in the same group can be retained on a separate contract to respond in areas where it is active, or the alert can be sent to any response company as long as the company has the software required to manage the alarm.
Customisable to user needs
The AI functionality included in the R60 per month not only detects motion and line crossing, but can also distinguish between vehicles, animals and humans. The web dashboard can be used to customise the AI’s alerts to the customer’s needs and a mobile app will be available by the time this article is published. The customisation has been made simple to allow users to manage it without technical expertise.
An example of how it can be customised, in this instance not for security reasons, is that an individual in the development company has set Snap Guard to monitor his garden. If the system does not detect a dog in a 30-minute period, an alert is sent to the user’s smartphone so that he knows his pet has again escaped over the gate.
Rules like this, or more serious ones, can be set up easily, even including virtual patrols around one’s premises. The system can also let users know if it has not received any input from the camera over a period of time set by the user, for example 30 minutes, which may indicate a connectivity problem or faulty camera.
It’s worth noting that the system can also be configured to provide regular reports on alerts, false alarms and so forth in a graphical interface, keeping office park or estate management up to date.
Snap Guard can also be used for more advanced analytics, namely facial recognition and licence plate recognition. These are available at R10 per month per camera. In a situation with multiple cameras, only one or two will need specialised analytics like this, making the overall solution very cost effective.
Although the cameras required for the standard AI analytics can run on existing cameras (almost any camera), making use of the additional analytics requires a device with minimum specifications to enable reliable facial or LPR functionality. This will allow users to blacklist certain people or vehicles as required.
The distribution model
The Snap Guard solution is made available via a distribution model. Activeye was the first distributor, with others already onboard. Some combine Snap Guard with their own services, such as an NVR with cameras, connectivity and installation, and even financing to provide customers will a complete solution.
Furter says the reason Snap Guard can be sold at such a low cost while still delivering real value is that it is all locally developed. This means the expense of developing the product was paid in rands, and the product is licenced in rands. The price is so attractive that Snap Guard has been snapped up by partners in Turkey, Brazil and Poland.
More information can be found on www.snapguard.co.za, including the simple three-step onboarding process.
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