Mind your Covid manners, chef

Mamuni Das New Delhi | Updated on February 12, 2021

AI-based CCTV tech helps expose the unmasked and unhygienic, in the food sector and factories

Companies in the AI-based CCTV (closed circuit television) space, such as Staqu Technologies and Vehant Technologies, have been catering to traditional customers such as State police, who used their services to nab criminals and traffic offenders, and for monitoring purposes in prisons.

Thanks to Covid, however, these firms have found promising new business areas — in the food sector and in factories.

Use of AI-in-CCTV in transport to detect masks gains traction

AI software is now used to zoom in on chefs and other kitchen staff who do not wear caps, gloves, masks, do not wash their hands frequently and use mobile phones (as phone surfaces are also carriers). Food outlets like Travel Food Services, Rebel Foods, several juice stores and cafes are using such technology.

Pandemic accelerated global firms to adopt AI tech

Bias-free tracking

Staqu, which provides AI software that can run on existing CCTVs, has bagged customers in hospitality including Travel Food Services, which operates outlets at airports and Rebel Foods (which operates brands like Faasos), to single out the unmasked and unhygienic, Atul Rai, Co-Founder and CEO, Staqu Technologies, told BusinessLine.

Earlier, this checking was done by managers, who could be biased and/or go soft on some unmasked offenders. But AI does not differentiate between humans, which makes owners prefer such solutions, says Rai.

Also, factories like Piramal Glass that makes bottles for perfume and for the pharma sector, and Marico are newer customers for Staqu, where its AI software keeps an eye on bottles per package and quality of copra as well. In factories, AI-based checking is much faster than human checking, points out Rai, whose company has also bagged a cement factory as a client.

Similarly, Vehant Technologies is providing its services to a company in the food space that operates juice chains and another that runs a chain of cafes. Owners prefer such AI-based systems as they help them attract customers in the post Covid era, says Kapil Bardeja, CEO and Co-Founder, Vehant Technologies.

In fact, these AI-based systems help send alerts and periodic reports to owners and/or higher managers reflecting Covid-19 inappropriate behaviour or other violations. Food outlets have become more sensitive to norms of Food Safety and Standards in pandemic times, says Bardeja.

SaaS model

For both these companies, larger clients traditionally have been State police and traffic police, among others. Staqu, which provides face recognition and AI-based software to State police departments and prisons, has Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Punjab Telangana and Haryana as customers. “If there is a theft (say, an ATM, or a factory), the realisation of the theft comes much later. And scanning through 10 days of CCTV footage from several cameras is impossible,” says Staqu, whose face recognition camera now comes with sound/voice sensitivity as well ability to red-flag an out-of-normal incident. “Most of the people being masked also makes it difficult for security personnel to capture offenders,” says Rai.

Vehant Technologies, which drew traditional customers from traffic police, has seen demand from malls and retail outlets for checking for masks, social distancing, and detecting and managing crowds in the post-Covid era.

The companies work on a software-as-a-service model, where their customers pay a subscription fee for the service. They see growth potential in companies outside of India, including from Europe, and Saudi Arabia.

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Published on February 12, 2021
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