Seeing is believing: how video adds fresh insight to IoT data.

Three Business Customer
On: 12 Dec 2019
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The Internet of Things is evolving rapidly and the next phase of change will see real-time video augmenting the data that sensors are providing to businesses. Leading this wave in the transport and logistics sector, CameraMatics (formerly ProVision) is an Irish company that’s helping its customers to unlock cost savings and operational efficiency, giving them a springboard for growth and scale. CEO and co-founder Mervyn O’Callaghan looks where the future of vehicle video is heading.

Data has become a valuable commodity that provides a wealth of information to help decision making. It’s the idea at the heart of the Internet of Things: arrays of sensors and measuring instruments that gather data about an activity and communicate that information to a system that analyses it and builds up a picture of performance over time.

But numbers alone can’t tell the whole story.

The mathematician Alfred Korzybski coined the phrase “the map is not the territory” to describe this gap between the information we have about something and how it actually is in reality.

Showing a true picture.

What we can see gives a valuable extra layer of information on top of the numbers to paint a truer picture of events. That’s where the smart camera comes into play. 

Telematics traditionally provide lots of data around what’s happening in the vehicle, but it can’t be definitive. It’s an interpretation of the data but it’s quite difficult to say with 100% accuracy what’s happened.  

Fuelling cost savings.

Fuel is one of the biggest outlays in the transportation business and the biggest impact on fuel consumption is driver behaviour. Many transport and logistics companies already use telematics solutions to manage their fleets and a traditional system would include a G Force sensor whose data tells the fleet manager that there was a hard-braking event or harsh accelerating event the previous week. But the truck driver could explain that the reason for braking suddenly was because a person accidentally stepped out onto the road in front of them. That’s where our software comes in. Real time video analysis of the road in front of the driver provides a ‘total picture’ of vehicle behaviour, adding valuable extra context around incidents, and supporting the driver’s version of events.

Layering video on top of everything reinforces the data with live video and it’s more powerful in identifying the cause of an accident. The software collects and analyses both data and video and is also constantly in contact with the driver, relaying information about the vehicle and the surrounding environment and using algorithms that analyse what’s happening in the video, in real time. It’s trying to prevent accidents before they happen, so it’s a driver aid but also a risk management platform for the fleet operator.

Driving down insurance premiums.

Another huge cost for transport companies is insurance, and video is helping to reduce premiums which could add up to significant savings for the industry. Some insurance companies have begun offering programmes aimed at small transport companies who will be eligible for a up to a 40% discount on their premium by installing smart camera software combined with sophisticated telemetry data. Schemes like this will have a big impact on insurance costs for the transport industry, because the smart cameras will provide further proof that companies are managing their risk as effectively as possible.

The technology is applicable across the board, from one-person delivery vans through to fleets of over 1,000 vehicles. The technology available today is designed to be modular, so customers with limited budgets can start small with a single camera on their vehicle and build up the system over time. Some leading manufacturers like Mercedes are already swapping their trucks’ bulky wing mirrors for sleek cameras. Then it’s just a matter of connecting the cameras to software that can analyse the video.

The technology roadmap.

Autonomous vehicles are just around the corner and they will rely on all of the data that video technology provides. In some cases, it will be the job of the “driver” to monitor this information in real time.

Cameramatics also has the ability to monitor driver safety and wellbeing, like cameras in the cab that can scan eye movements or facial expressions, which could indicate that the driver is distracted (by looking at their phone) or tired – which could be more likely to cause an accident. It provides far more detailed operational information and driver information, all backed up with video.

Video has other use cases besides when a van or truck is in motion. For example, opening a rear door could trigger a video with a timestamp and GPS coordinates, generating a proof of delivery complete with a visual that the consignment arrived at its destination. In an industry where fine margins can make all the difference, transport operators can use video technology to increase their profits and, ultimately, scale by competing on operational efficiency.

By opening up new markets and helping to manage some of the biggest business costs in the industry, video looks set to play a leading role in transportation for years to come.

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