Big Idea

CCTV cameras simply look, but this Bengaluru start-up helps them see

With the help of artificial intelligence and machine learning, OurEye ensures that CCTV cameras are brought to life

OurEye co-founders (L-R): Saurabh Ghanekar, Miran Junaidi and Sourav Sanyal

“Be aware! You are under CCTV surveillance” has seldom made thieves pause. They do the clean-up job and flee, while the police are left scratching their heads over recovering the missing surveillance footage or using the grainy video to track down the offenders. Meanwhile, the victim is left without recourse.

Sourav Sanyal, Miran Junaidi and Saurabh Ghanekar learnt this the hard way last year. The trio from SRM University, Amaravati, was in Los Angeles for their fourth-semester abroad, when Junaidi’s phone was stolen from a park bench.

They wanted to file a complaint, but the task at hand was not easy. First, they had to go to the security supervisor to check the CCTV footage of that area. This would be followed by a 10-day wait to process the video, which had to be then taken to the campus police advisor to lodge a complaint. “We knew that there were four cameras surveying that space, but one security supervisor was monitoring footage from 100 such cameras,” says Sanyal. Here, the engineering graduates realised that CCTV cameras had to be brought to life. They came up with the idea of creating a platform that could send real-time notifications to the supervisors in case any discrepancy was recorded by a CCTV. The supervisors could then check that particular camera immediately instead of poring through hours of footage. This is how OurEye came into being.

With the idea, the trio won LA Hacks as well as Developer Week. On conducting subsequent research, they stumbled upon a $5 billion-market opportunity for the platform’s use cases in business organisations, and residential and industrial spaces in India. “The capital expenditure on setting up cameras is huge, but the return on that investment for businesses is low,” says Sanyal. Thus, OurEye evolved into a platform that enables businesses to deploy a remote auditor/quality controller, all through existing cameras. The layers of artificial intelligence and machine learning ensure that the data collected is superior to that of a single person sitting in a dingy room and monitoring footage on multiple screens.

When a business decides to use the platform, they are required to install a desktop client at the location and share the camera feeds. “After that, based on industry standards, the platform is taught what it has to observe, monitor and how often,” says Sanyal. For instance, an F&B company requires its employees to wear uniforms when its kitchens open everyday at six in the morning. “So, the outlet manager has to upload pictures of the uniform and all the employees onto the system. This will train the platform and it will understand what has to be looked at,” he explains. Then, from next morning onwards, the manager will promptly receive email notifications when any employee is seen violating the rules.

Most of the start-up’s clients are in the F&B and hospitality sector, using the platform to monitor custom SOPs, FSSAI hygiene compliance and track gear. In case of manufacturing clients, the platform is largely used to check for safety kits, look at entry/exit timings and track machinery. “This activity/object/pattern recognition produces actionable insights… to better the way businesses operate and scale,” says Sanyal. The start-up’s solutions are currently being used by 11 companies across 17 outlets.

Coming to the business model, the team has divided the platform’s features into three different categories – Launch, Rise and Scale. In Launch, the platform can monitor up to four cameras, register 20 employees and send weekly reports for Rs.7,500 per month per outlet. In Rise, the platform can monitor up to eight cameras, register 50 employees and send daily reports for Rs.9,500 per month per outlet. And, in Scale, the platform can monitor up to 15 cameras, register 100 employees and send hourly reports for Rs. 12,500 per month per outlet. Accordingly, the number of custom SOPs detectable by the platform varies between five and 15. In FY20, the start-up's revenue stood at Rs.1.7 million.

But, with constant monitoring of individuals comes concerns of privacy. To allay all fears, OurEye team ensures that not a single image or video file is stored on their servers. “Deployed on the cloud, raw data never leaves the customer’s account and is not exposed to any third party including us!,” explains Sanyal. Now, there are high chances of hacking in cloud storage. Keeping that in mind, OurEye encrypts all the analysed data in transit. “It is all hosted in secure tunnels. Every 10 days, we also give our clients the option to download all data and delete everything from the database,” he adds.

The team of 12, including the three co-founders, has received $35,000 in funding from Sanjay Mehta-led 100X.VC. With this, they plan to add more features to the platform and hire a sales team to expand their client base to hospitals, schools and commercial spaces. The goal is to bring 10,000 cameras to life by end of 2021, says Sanyal.