From video game to disaster relief, pioneering Israeli tech showcased at AIPAC

Startup Edgybees raises $5 million to help firefighters and others avert disaster; presents at AIPAC Israel Innovation showcase

Screenshot of Edgybees’s augmented reality mapping software  used in emergency management situations. (Courtesy)
Screenshot of Edgybees’s augmented reality mapping software used in emergency management situations. (Courtesy)

Edgybees Ltd., an Israel-based startup, has developed a technology to enhance the awareness of first responders in emergency situations, by layering 3-D mapping and other data onto live video feeds from drones, airplanes, and cars. The startup, which has just completed a $5.5 million funding round, was among one of three selected to present its technology at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) annual policy conference on Sunday.

The technology has received an “overwhelming response” from industrial and commercial drone users in the field of public safety and search and rescue, especially in the US, said Adam Kaplan, co-founder and CEO of Edgybees, in a phone interview upon arrival at the AIPAC conference.

“Seven months ago, we were entirely a video game company,” he said. “After releasing our game to the public in May, we quickly adapted it to the needs of first responders, and by August and September, our software was running effectively to help first responders during Hurricane Irma,” Kaplan said.

Edgybees’s First Response app uses an algorithm to create and layer three-dimensional mapping onto visuals from live video-feeds of drones, cameras mounted on cars, and body accessories to provide a realistic picture to first responders in emergency situations.

The company’s technological innovation is led by Menashe Haskin, ITS chief technology officer, who used to manage the Israeli development office of Amazon Prime Air, and holds over 35 US patents in the fields of aerospace, video and vision processing, and data processing and communication.

First Response was successfully used in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma to map and identify distress calls in flooded areas and the Northern California fires to keep firefighters out of harm’s way last October, the company said.

While existing drone videos were already providing visual imagery to first responders, they were not capable of helping them make sense of what they were seeing and determining crucial information, like identifying the location of distress signals, the placement of power lines and the positions of other first responders

Edgybees’s augmented reality software layers maps and data with this information onto videos in real-time, providing the first responders with a clearer picture of what is going on to help them better manage the crisis.

“Video without context is less powerful,” said Kaplan, and Edgybees set out to provide the context needed.

Kaplan has co-founded and served on executive teams of several companies which have been acquired in recent years including Xennex Inc., Athoc, Digital Guardian and Tonian.

Among the investors of the startup are Motorola Solutions Venture Capital, Verizon Ventures, OurCrowd, 8VC, NFX and Aspect Ventures, the startup said in a statement.

2017 was a record-breaking year for weather- and climate-related disasters in the US, with 16 separate billion-dollar disaster events reaching an accumulative cost of more than $300 billion, according to the data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Aside from using the seed funding to bring its technology to areas such as defense, smart cities, automotive, and broadcast media, Edgybees plans to create a platform to enable developers to create their applications shortly, Kaplan said.

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