Edgybees raises $5.5M seed round to bring AR to high speed cameras

The software is primarily used for public safety, and will be expanded to new verticals

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
February 28, 2018
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Drones have become more commonplace in the realm of public safety, and for good reason. It's always going to be more worth risking the life of a piece of hardware to get a better vantage point of a fire or a flood than risking a human life to do the same thing. The problem is that those cameras are still limited in the information they can telegraph. They can't really tell the person watching the video where things are happening, and where they are in relation to other things. 

That's where Edgybees comes in. It's a software company that uses augmented reality to give better contextual information to live video from fast-moving cameras by overlaying three dimensional visuals.

Typically used by drones, the company is now looking to expand its software to other types of feeds and to new verticals, and so it announced on Wednesday that it raised a $5.5 million seed round that was led by Motorola Solutions Venture Capital and Verizon Ventures. OurCrowd, 8VC, NfX, and Aspect Ventures also participated. This round also included angel funding from Rami Tamir and Benny Schnaider, the founders of Ravello Systems, which was bought by Oracle in 2016. 

"We've had the opportunity to work with some great entrepreneurs as well as VCs. As you can see, we did a larger seed round because there were a lot of strategic opportunities. Motorola is the number one company in the world in the public safety. Additionally, Verizon acquired a drone company about a year ago, so there's some strategic value in these corporates that have come in as well," Adam Scott Kaplan, CEO of Edgybees, told me in an interview. 

Founded in 2016 by Kaplan and CTO Menashe Haskin, Edgybees actually started out as a game company, releasing an augmented reality obstacle course on a DJI drone last May. The game was used by tens of thousands of users, before Edgybees began to be adopted by organizations in the public safety space through its partnership with DJI.

"One of the guys reached out to me from DJI, the guy who heads up the public safety markets, and he said, 'One of our biggest expanding divisions is public safety. We really could use your software because there are hundreds of police and fire departments that are using DJI drones, but they're flying using, essentially, a photography app.' That is what most people use on drones for, for filming cool photography," Kaplan said. 

"What ended up happening was a bunch of these customers came to us, like the Menlo Park Fire Department, the Alameda Country Fire Department, and a number of folks who are using drones. We started asking them what they needed and they told us that when they fly a drone they have very little orientation as to where they are, so we were able to take the same AR technology that was developed for the game, and we built real-time map overlaps on top of the video feed. It essentially looks like Google Maps over a video feed."

Other things they asked for was the ability to track where first responders are, to have phones that would sync up to the drone, and the ability to customize the video feed so they can mark where people should be going. 

Edgybees was released to beta customers in August of 2017, and since then it has been used during Hurricane Irma and the recovery efforts, where Edgybee's software was used to overlay maps over the flooded streets, as well as during the fires in Santa Rosa.

Edgybees now works with a couple of dozen of fire and police organizations who were early adopters in three states: California, Texas and Florida.

"The ROI is pretty interesting because it's not monetary. These organizations all have two way radios, so the KPI for them is the ability to visualize something. Say I take a picture of a building where a suspect is, if I'm a police officer, and then I send it to 20 police officers via text message with a picture that has the suspect with the longitude and latitude. Instead of them being on two way radios and chattering back and forth, their KPI is less talking and explaining about where to go. The ability to visualize where to go is the number one way in which they're using the software," said Kaplan. 

Now, Kaplan says, the company is ready to start scaling, and plans to use the new funding to bring its AR technology to new verticals, including defense, smart cities, automotive, and broadcast media. That means putting its software onto video feeds from other types of vehicles, including trains and cars.

"We deal with AR from the air, and now we’re dealing with stuff from the ground as well. We got a number of phone calls from automotive folks because we deal with augmented reality from the cameras moving fast with sensors on it. We’re doing that with drones and then the automotive guys said, ‘Well, we have camera, we have sensors, why can’t you do something on ours?'" Kaplan said.

"When it comes to smart cities, virtually there's cameras everywhere. As opposed to getting the raw video feed and putting the context on top of that, and using that for the purposes of traffic, or doing a number of other things, the ability to contextually do that in terms of smart cities is a big opportunity. What I believe is going to happen next is similar to what happened with public safety, the use case, the next killer verticals, are probably a lot of stuff we haven’t thought of because we’re having a lot of inbound with this new technology, with people saying, 'I’ve got a camera on this and I've got a camera on that.' There’s all sort of different stuff we can do, like integrating with AI, so there’s a lot of opportunities that we’re seeing."

While Edgybees has entered into some new partnerships in some of these newer verticals, much like the one it has with DJI in the drone space, the company is not disclosing any of those at the moment. 

In addition, Edgybees also plans use the money to develop an API to allow developers to build out the platform. 

When asked about his vision for Edgybees, Kaplan told me that there are two answers to that question, one having to do with his personal vision and the vision for the company. 

"For myself, as an entrepreneur who has been in the technology business, I find it to be pretty meaningful to be able to assist first responders. They do a very admirable job and to give tools that can keep them safe and to help other people is a refreshing thing for me. A lot of tech is about, without slandering other companies, selfies and other types of things, so the ability to do something that's meaningful is great. From an idealistic point of view, money is great but the ability to do good is a great thing," said Kaplan.

"From a vision point of view, we would like to be the platform of augmented reality for high speed moving cameras, whether it's a drone, a car, a plane, a train. Unfortunately, we all spend too much time looking at our phones and tablets, and the ability to bring in the outside world and also augment that video I think can be very valuable."


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Description: Edgybees’ technology enables augmented reality (AR) on high speed platforms like drones and cars. Edgybees empowers professional dr...