Keeping your distance from pandemics

How can companies and governments monitor social-distancing

The deadly Covid19 or the Novel Corona Virus that begun to spread around the world at the first quarter of 2020 caught the whole world by surprise.

Many governments are imposing new rules to try and mitigate the numbers of sick in this horrible pandemic. Flattening the curve is one of the terms coined to show that the health system should lower the number of cases before the whole system collapses.

One way to flatten the curve is to keep social-distancing, which is yet another term that became popular in these times.

The Corona virus mostly travels by air from person to person, so if one keeps enough distance from his friends, colleagues and basically anybody else, the chances of getting sick are reduced drastically.

The 6 feet or 2 meters -apart rule is very important and useful to distant yourself enough. But how can this rule and numbers be checked and enforced.

Most of the the measuring technologies cannot detect people in such accuracy, or do not really deal with the distance between one person or another. Facial-recognition technologies, for example, concentrate mainly on the head area, but will be useless for monitoring large crowds and lines. By the way, the face-recognition technologies are useless with the masks that everybody must wear these days.

So we need a technology that will count the number of people in a certain area, to make sure it is not overcrowded, and to “keep an eye” on the distance between the individuals, that should be at least 6 feet apart.

Enter Sentinel from Accuware!

Sentinel from Accuware, the Tracking and Navigation experts, is a technology for human detection and recognition that can measure the amount of people and their distance from one another in a certain location.

A software integration company or a government can simply utilize most models of the existing CCTV cameras deployed in the venue and track the people there. No need to recognize or look at the face of the person (which is in any case blocked); Only the general body figure is what’s important here. That is enough to count a person and track him, as long as they stay visible and inside the field of view of the camera.

 

Sentinel can provide a location accuracy of 5-15 cm (2-6 inches) of each person in WSG-84 (latitude, longitude), or as “x, y, z” coordinates, being therefore precise enough to monitor the distance between people. Thanks to multi-person tracking, there is potentially no limit to the number of people that can be simultaneously detected.

Sentinel provides an API for developers so they can integrate this technology inside their custom applications. Any Web or Mobile application, capable of parsing CSV files, can benefit of the data produced by Sentinel’s video analytics.

You can now try out Sentinel, our computer vision based monitoring system for video analytics and human tracking, for free, by yourself and see how people are detected and tracked with our Artificial Intelligence and Neural Network technology. Upload your own relevant video to our test page.

Note that Accuware does not make use or share your videos in any case. A local offline standalone server option of Sentinel is also available for maximum security and privacy.

 

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WebRTC to stream videos from DJI Drones in real time without lag

WebRTC – Receive Low-Latency Live Video Stream from DJI Drones

When receiving a live video stream from DJI drones you need a reliable and real-time platform.

When you want to stream live, and even control your drone remotely according to the view from its camera you must have a low-latency video stream.

A strong radio link to the drone will enable you to control the drone’s movements but your video will take a few seconds to be received. That can hamper your attempts to fly your drone correctly when it is out of your line-of-sight.

You can add a piece of hardware such as a 4G/LTE device that will transmit the video in excellent quality and real-time, but there are some points to consider. From the aspect of SWaP-C (Size, Weight, Power consumption, and Cost) to the drone that is not wise. More Size, More Weight, more Power consumption and higher Costs due to the extra hardware that rides on the drone.

Lost Drone

DJI, a market leader in easy-to-fly drones and aerial photography systems, offers options to stream the video from its drone’s camera but with a price of latency.

DJI’s remote control includes an HD video receiver. One can connect the remote control to the Android phone and view the stream on the phone. But that is only on the phone.

DJI and companies that are related to it offer a cloud streaming option of RTMP protocol to other computers, but this option can have a latency of up to 5 seconds. That is not the real real-time low-latency video stream that you require.

Accuware offers a better option: live transmission to any computer with very low-latency, less than 1 second, with minimal lag. Accuware does that via the WebRTC protocol with no blockage on the way. No Size, no Weight and no Power consumption costs to the drone.

Accuware’s Solution

Accuware’s solution is an Android library that can be integrated inside the Android app you build. It enables seamless streaming of live video from your DJI drone to other computers.

Our solution enables your DJI-SDK based app to capture the H.264 video of any DJI drone. The decoded output of this process is then transcoded to any video standard (e.g. H.264, VP8 and VP9) and forwarded in real-time with very low latency to a remote WebRTC client allowing external applications to acquire the video and use it for multiple purposes.

The video stream features full peer-to-peer technology and does not go through a 3rd party service. The video streams do not go through Accuware’s servers, and are not kept at all. Users are connected privately and seamlessly via certain “channels”. The receiving party can be behind a firewall or behind any other 4G/LTE/5G network limitation, and there is no need for any special configuration.

No need to install anything on the receiving side to watch the stream.

Our solution is built on top of the advanced WebRTC technology. It works with DJI Phantom, DJI Mavic, DJI Spreading Wings, DJI Inspire, DJI Spark, DJI Matrice and much more.

Kindly note that Accuware’s technology is not meant for end-users; It is meant for software and hardware integrators.

The use of Accuware’s DJI streamer library is provided for 14 days free of charge. After that period is over you will be required to purchase a license. Using the library requires a bit of Android and DJI SDK knowledge (which is needed in any case to control a DJI drone from an app).

We provide a sample Android app and technical support to assist you achieve your goals.

After you have integrated our library with your app, you simply need to connect DJI’s remote control to your Android device with a USB cable. Now you can get the DJI drone’s video in real-time anywhere in the world and use it for any purpose.

What is WebRTC and How Does it Work?

We mentioned WebRTC a lot in this blog entry. WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communications) is a technology and standard that adds real-time peer-to-peer multimedia capabilities to apps, and does not require any additional plug-ins. WebRTC utilizes a plethora of technologies and protocols, such as data streams, advanced STUN/TURN servers, signaling processes, network sockets, etc.

WebRTC enables peers to send and receive multimedia behind firewalls and NAT devices, seamlessly.

WebRTC and Dragonfly

By the way, we use our WebRTC platform not only with the DJI Streamer Library, but also for our patented Visual SLAM Dragonfly solution as well, thanks to its minimal lag and high quality. A user can use the Streamer Library to acquire the video. Dragonfly can utilize that excellent video output to assist the Drone in navigation or to let its operator know its location in a GPS-deprived area.

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7 Tips for Working From Home

At Accuware we are used to work remotely. Our team has the freedom to work from home, from the office and from wherever they like. 

We started this habit back in 2010, when “smart working” was really rare and not considered a viable option for many companies.

We want to share some tips with you.

We strongly believe in the power of remote and smart working.

In this specific period, with the Coronavirus emergency spreading all over the world, many companies are offering the ability to work from home to their employees.

Some employees are pretty new to this. We know that sometimes it is not easy to adapt to this working style, we know that all the operations are going to be different. For this reason, let us share some suggestions that come from our direct experience. We hope that they can be useful for you.

1. Maintain Regular Hours

Yes, this sounds obvious, but it’s not.

Once you work from home you know that you can organize your hours and tasks. Flexibility is great, but be careful.

Set a schedule, and stick to it. At least, most of the times.

Having clear hours for when to work and when to take a break helps many remote workers maintain work/life balance.

Of course, sometimes you need to extend your day, sometimes you may have to start early to accommodate someone else’s time zone or to finish a project in time. When you do, try to balance by finishing early the following or previous day.

Do not try to be operational 24/7: this very often leads to being less productive and will make you hate working from home.

There are automatic time-tracking apps that you can use to be sure to stick to your schedule. Let us recommend TimeTune

2. Start your day, get dressed, set your office.

Create your morning routine, just like when you go to the office.

Get up, have breakfast if you’re used to it, and get dressed. You’re not leaving home, but getting dressed is proven to “trick your brain” and makes you more productive and constant during the day.

A routine can be more powerful than a clock at helping you get started each day.

Then, choose where your “office” is going to be. It can be on the couch, on the kitchen table, on a desk in a studio, on the carpet. But pick your office for the day, and if you can, stick to it. This makes you think of that spot as your “office” and improves your concentration. Don’t work from bed, this can be really counter productive.

3. Schedule breaks

Working from home makes you forget about taking breaks or can make the breaks be too long or frequent.

Feel free to pick your best break schedule, whether it’s 5 minutes each hour or 15 minutes each 3 hours, plus a long break for a meal or to relax. You can also extend your working hours and add more breaks -some of us prefer to have long breaks but work till late.

This is up to you, but remember to disconnect from work every now and then, to let your brain cool down.

4. Communication is crucial

When working from home you miss the daily chats with colleagues and the in-person meetings.

But remember, communication is important and you should communicate with your managers, colleagues, employees each time it is needed. Whether it is a chat message, an email, a phone call, make sure to share your thoughts and doubts, to give inputs and to ask for clarifications each time you need.

However, don’t overload people with messages:

  • When sending an email, read it twice. Make sure to include everything you need to add, to keep things simple and clear.
  • Use chat systems when convenient not only for you but also for the other person. Make sure that you are not interrupting something important.
  • Video calls are a great way to stay in touch and to quickly resolve several matters. But do not abuse of them. Sometimes, a quick email thread is way easier and does not require to allocate 30-60 minutes of time for a call.
  • Use Whatsapp with diligence. Whatsapp is something personal and not everyone wants to mix personal life with business there. Use it only if you have the explicit consent from the recipient, and keep it on a professional level. If needed, create a dedicated group on Whatsapp, even if it’s just for two persons. This will separate business from personal life, in a way.

5. Use the right tools.

When working remotely it is fundamental to have the right tools to be efficient and to improve the productivity.

Make sure to have access from your computer to all the company’s software you need: CRM, ERP, SAP, shared repositories…

And think about implementing new tools.

  • Slack is a great way to improve internal and external communication, in a kind of “chat/thread style”. It is well known and more and more companies are using it. It starts with a free plan which offers most of the times what you need.
  • Zoom is becoming the standard video conference application. It is extremely reliable, stable, and offers several features and functionalities that other conf call software don’t have. At Accuware, along with Hangouts, it is our favorite communication tool.
  • A project management tool, like Asana, to keep track of all the projects, pending tasks, work groups..

6. Be positive!

It is normal to feel alone sometimes when working remotely. It can also happen that you miss your colleagues and even your boss. You may wonder how you are doing since you do not receive feedback, you don’t know what the rest of your team is doing. You know that the less face time you have with people, the less they know how to interpret your tone in writing.

However you should always be positive and proactive. When you work remotely full-time, keep a positive vibe, till the point where people may think you’re being overly positive. If not, you risk sounding like the pessimistic one of the team. It’s unfortunate but true. When writing to your team, don’t hesitate to use emoji and exclamation marks to make sure to communicate the right tone. Ask to your colleagues how they are doing, sometimes they just want to speak with someone and have some human connections.

7. Take advantage of your free time.

When you work remotely you realize that sometimes you have plenty of time for yourself.

In that time, there are many things you can do. First of all, if you’re stressed and you just feel like doing nothing, go ahead and relax. Meditation and relax are important, don’t feel ashamed to take some time for yourself.

Another way to take advantage of this time is to improve yourself, enlarge your knowledge, learn a new language, follow courses.

There are many books you can read and courses you can follow. Masterclass.com is one of the best platforms where you can follow interesting courses by the masters of the industry. You can improve your professional skills or follow your personal interests and hobbies, or even learn new subjects and skills that can improve your professional career in the future.

Time is a finite resource, make sure to use it in the best possible way for yourself.

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Case History: Track forklift inside a warehouse, Modani’s project in Miami

Modani, one of the most famous modern and contemporary furniture brands, selects Accuware Dragonfly to track the movements of forklifts inside their warehouse.

Modani, luxury contemporary furniture.

Modani is a famous manufacturer and distributor of contemporary and modern furniture. Modani has stores across the USA and in 2018 has been acquired by Maisons du Monde, in their plan of global expansion.

The main warehouse of Modani is located in Florida, a few miles from Miami. It spreads over about 120,000 sqft and about 20 forklifts operate on the floor.

In order to optimise the operations, reduce accidents and improve the efficiency of the warehouse, Modani has decided to install Accuware Dragonfly on board of each forklift.

Dragonfly, Accurate visual SLAM technology.

Dragonfly is Visual SLAM (vSLAM) technology. It allows robots, drones, machines, vehicles, AGV and mobile devices to get their real time precise location in GPS-denied environments, by just using an on-board camera. No hardware deployed on-site, no expensive LiDAR, no “sensor fusion” required.

Read more: What is visual SLAM?

Dragonfly can provide centimeter accuracy and the location is computed in real time, with a refresh rate up to 60 Hz (60 location updates per second).

For this project Accuware provided “Dragonfly Kits” composed of:

The mini pc has been connected to the forklift’s battery and the entire location computation happens on board.

Then, through a local WiFi network, the location data is sent to a central server from which Modani’s operation manager can monitor the real time position of forklifts and can access charts and KPI to evaluate and improve the efficiency of operations.

Installation and Setup

Accuware’s experts have helped Modani to physically install the Dragonfly kit on board of forklifts.

After the installation, a preliminary mapping of the facility has been performed, to create an initial “virtual map” for Dragonfly and to test the quality of the positioning.

With the camera mounted on top of the forklift, pointing towards the ceiling, Dragonfly could deliver the expected level of accuracy: 10 cm (4 inches).

Vibrations and environmental changes do not affect Dragonfly’s performance, making it a reliable and effective technology for forklift tracking inside this specific kind of environments, affected by changes over time due to their nature.

The below video shows Dragonfly at work inside Modani’s warehouse.

KPI and Data Analytics

Accuware has provided a dashboard to analyze the movements of the forklifts in real time, on a floor plan. In addition, historical tracking and data are available, to easily visualize some KPI like the average moving time of each forklift, the distance that has been traveled, speed and risks of collisions with other forklifts, along with a density map to understand the more crowded areas.

Accuware’s R&D team has created a custom application for Modani, which is open to extensions and add-ons, so that new KPIs can be added upon request.

 

Modani’s team has already started using Dragonfly to improve their operations and increase the efficiency of forklifts. Their warehouse manager uses the data generated to plan optimized routes, shifts and movements on the floor.

Your turn.

If you have a warehouse and would like to implement this technology, it’s time to contact us.

Several companies are adopting Dragonfly in their plan of innovation and it is proven to be a reliable and precise system for forklift tracking. Don’t miss this opportunity and connect now with our experts to discuss your project.

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Sentinel beats most of AI surveillance systems – Video

A study showed that most of AI surveillance systems fail in detecting people in some situations…

An article in the Daily Mail revealed that Video Analytics software for people-tracking can easily fail when a colorful printed patch is in front of a person.

Some engineers from KU Leuven, a university based in Belgium, demonstrated that some people simply become “invisible” to AI video tracking systems when they hold a specially designed patch in front of them. AI tracking systems get confused by the patch and are not able to detect the human.

How would Sentinel work in this case?

Spoiler: Sentinel can detect people also in this situation.

At Accuware we decided to test our own video analytics technology, Sentinel, on the same video, to check the results.

We were curious to see if our technology could perform better than many others on the market in detecting people in particular situations. So, we contacted the engineering team at KU Leuven asking to share the original video so that we could process it. Unfortunately the team said that they were unable to share it.

Therefore we decided then to process the publicly released video, which shows the superimposed tracking identifiers from YOLO2, that fails in detecting the subject with the colorful pattern. YOLO2 is one of the most common technologies used for AI video analytics, and is among the systems that fail in this test.

Sentinel was not trained to detect this specific situation, and we have used the standard configuration and calibration settings we use for our customers.

The result is impressive: Sentinel can detect humans also under this specific condition that tricks most of the other video tracking systems. Below you can check out for yourself.

Do not let your competitors get ahead of you!

If you are already using a video analytics system, or if you are considering integrating one, be sure to make the right choice.

A wise decision is crucial for the future of your company and making successful investments. When it comes to Video Analytics technologies, Sentinel is by far one of the most advanced and best performing technologies on the market.

Sentinel lets you be competitive in a sector that is continuously evolving: Accuware is committed to improve its technologies and deliver high-performing systems to customers. Unlike many competitors, we are open to listen to your specific requirements and we can create a custom and flexible solution based on your real needs, adapting our technology and algorithms to your specific use case and delivering a unique solution for your project.

Sentinel for your Project

If you want an advanced AI Video Tracking technology, if you want to get a successful experience with an advanced system, do not hesitate to contact us.

At Accuware we can deliver the right technology for your requirements and we provide consulting services as well in order to deliver customized projects and software. Our team will be delighted to speak with you.

Do you prefer to have an on-site demonstration?

We provide on-site demos as well: contact us for pricing and details.

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