Home PC News Density raises $51 million to promote social distancing with AI occupancy-tracking sensors

Density raises $51 million to promote social distancing with AI occupancy-tracking sensors

Density, a startup constructing AI-powered, people-counting infrared sensors, in the present day closed a $51 million financing spherical. The infusion brings the San Francisco-based startup’s complete raised to over $74 million following $23 million in earlier funding, and cofounder and CEO Andrew Farah says it’ll be put towards addressing “unprecedented demand” from places of work, producers, grocery shops, industrial vegetation, and governments attempting to abide by capability limits through the pandemic.

In some ways, Density’s merchandise have been tailored for the worldwide well being crises. Cities around the globe have imposed limits on companies — significantly eating places — concerning the variety of clients they permit in, reflecting present understanding of how the coronavirus spreads. Moreover, the shift to work at home and monetary headwinds have corporations questioning the necessity for bodily workplace area; even earlier than the pandemic, U.S. Commercial Real Estate Services estimated there’s $1 trillion in unused industrial property within the U.S.

Density leverages depth-measuring {hardware} and an AI backend to carry out crowd analytics that overcomes the challenges posed by corners, hallways, doorways, and convention rooms. Clients like Pepsi, Delta, Verizon, Uber, Marriot, and ExxonMobil use its stack to determine which components of their places of work get essentially the most use and which get the least, and to ship people-counting metrics to a whole lot and even hundreds of workers.

Farah conceived of Density’s core expertise at Syracuse University, in graduate faculty, whereas working at a cellular software program growth agency. His modest purpose —  to measure the busyness of a well-liked espresso store, Cafe Kubal — led him to discover a few completely different options earlier than finally deciding on one that may kind the muse for Density’s people-counting sensors.


Above: The view from one in all Density’s sensors.

Image Credit: Density

Density’s sensor operates form of like a small laptop computer. It’s an oblong field that matches within the palm of an average-sized hand, belying its complexity; the sensor consists of over eight hundred elements sourced from 137 provide chains Density itself manages.

The sensor attaches above a doorway and tracks motion frame-by-frame with two Class 1 infrared lasers that bounce off of the ground. Algorithms filter out sign noise (for instance, containers, strollers, pushcarts, plates, and different objects being carried or pushed) to measure the path, collision, and velocity of individuals strolling into and out of view. The information is funneled by way of Wi-Fi to Density’s cloud-hosted backend, the place it’s processed and analyzed. An online dashboard, SMS messages, signage, and cellular apps present insights just like the real-time capability of a room and historic crowd sizes whereas an API permits third-party apps, providers, and web sites to utilize the information in novel methods.

One of Density’s purchasers — a big pharmaceutical firm — makes use of the sensors to maintain its restrooms spick and span by deploying cleaners each 70 makes use of. Ride-hailing big Uber makes use of the sensors in one in all its assist facilities to ensure the middle is sufficiently staffed. Other purposes embody figuring out which constructing entrances are most used throughout evacuation drills and estimating the variety of folks on the highest flooring of an workplace throughout a hearth.

According to Farah, there’s benefit to Density’s infrared technique of people-tracking: privateness. Unlike a safety digicam, its sensors can’t decide the gender or ethnicity of the folks it tracks, or carry out invasive facial recognition. “It’s far easier to do a camera,” he advised VentureBeat in a earlier interview. “But we believe the data pendulum has swung too far one direction. It’s good to see people ask about data being collected … We knew that the right market was corporate clients with office space because our sensor can do occupancy detection inside of a room where a camera can’t go.”


Density doesn’t cost for {hardware}. Instead, its clients — which embody a homeless shelter community, theme parks, Ivy League faculties, and others past the above-mentioned manufacturers — pay a month-to-month or annual payment for entry to the information.

The pandemic initially harm Density’s gross sales as a result of many potential clients quickly shut down. But for the reason that shut of its collection B funding in June 2018, Density says its sensors have counted greater than 150 million folks in dozens of nations throughout a whole lot of thousands and thousands of sq. ft. Recently, it expanded manufacturing in Syracuse, New York by 90% to maintain up with pandemic-related upticks in orders.

Farah says Density is at the moment focusing its advertising and marketing efforts on grocery shops and different companies deemed “essential” however required to stick to social-distancing tips. In the close to time period, the corporate plans to develop its gross sales workforce and to additional develop software program and platform merchandise.

Kleiner Perkins led Density’s collection C funding with contributions from 01 Advisors, Upfront Ventures, Founders Fund, Ludlow Ventures, Launch, LPC Ventures, and particular person traders Alex Rodriguez, Alex Davis, Kevin Hartz, and Cyan and Scott Banister. Founded in 2014, the startup now employs greater than 50 folks throughout its Syracuse and San Francisco places of work.

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