When Wayne Baker, the fire chief and emergency coordinator in Joshua, Texas, sent his firefighters into raging wildfires, he wanted to see through the smoke and flames.
“Where the fire is, what’s ahead of it, where our firefighters were, and to be able to track the firefighters more efficiently, coordinate our efforts, and keep them safer,” he says.
Baker found the answer in Edgybees, an Israeli startup that draws data from aircraft, sensors, maps and databases and adds it to a live drone camera feed. An augmented-reality layer of information displayed over real-time visuals allows first responders to see roads and powerlines hidden by fire or floodwater, track their own vehicles and personnel, and even tag people in danger or suspected criminals.
Now, with the rapid rise of private investment in Space technology and the emergence of the Metaverse, Edgybees’ technology – first developed for gaming, then for emergency response – may be heading for the stars.
“First Response from Edgybees enhances the capabilities that we already have from drones, so if you were looking to try to figure out what streets to route an engine or brush truck in, that’s available to you from the air rather than having to try to decipher what you’re seeing in the visual onto a map,” says Garret Bryl, an aerospace engineer and volunteer drone pilot with the Joshua Fire Department. “It just adds the information right on top of it and you can make decisions quicker and better.”
The platform fuses computer vision, multi-sensor data analytics, and 3D video. The augmented video is streamed to emergency control operators, clearly labeled with street names, hazardous points, areas of infrastructure, the GPS location of responders, and other information providing the crucial real-time “situational awareness” providing a data-enriched view of the scene.
The company’s geo-registration technology, enabling it to anchor data to a specific map location, helps emergency responders save time and lives.
“In these instances, in which time is of the essence and visibility is limited, geo-registration can help pinpoint the exact location of the fires, minimize damage, and save precious resources,” says Lieut. Gen. H.R. McMaster, a former US military commander and national security adviser, who has joined the Edgybees advisory board.
Edgybees’ drones have been deployed by US and Australian emergency teams in fires, floods and in the aftermath of hurricanes. Mounted on police cars, the system can give officers an enhanced view of potential trouble spots. Drones help oil and gas companies to spot leaks on hard-to-access facilities.
Using the geolocation artificial intelligence algorithms it developed to match drone imagery to physical maps, Edgybees can improve the accuracy of satellite imagery from 50 meters to 2 meters.
“The difference is huge,” says Adam Kaplan, CEO of Edgybees. “Our software acts like a Waze in the sky. We can help out wherever you have data that you want to visualize very accurately – from the public safety space and defense, through to the sports industry and the automotive sphere – the possibilities are virtually endless.”
“We’ve all heard the word Metaverse, but we are essentially creating the real-world Metaverse. We are able to take augmented data and match it to the real world,” Kaplan says.
Now, with the rise of private companies like SpaceX investing in technology above the planet, Edgybees is aiming higher.
In addition to its work with governments and major companies including General Motors and CNN, Edgybees is partnering with satellite providers like Boeing and Verizon and working with Azure Space at Microsoft to offer its technology as a cloud service.
The expansion of Space-based platforms and the creation of new, privately financed satellite constellations will “create a whole series of megatrends that are going to change our world,” says Mark Boggett, CEO of Seraphim Space Fund and managing director of Seraphim Capital, a major investor in Space technology.
“Private-sector investors have noted this opportunity and that’s led to a huge amount of interest coming into this market,” Boggett told an OurCrowd SpaceTech seminar in January, pointing to the creation of a new “digital infrastructure around our planet.”
But with multiple platforms collecting data on different, sometimes incompatible systems, there is a significant opportunity for Edgybees, whose software is designed to analyze data from multiple sources, creating one unified feed for its customers.
“Each of these constellations is gathering data but there is little standardization between the different data sets. One of the things that Edgybees is looking to do is to be able to provide some standardization so you can take the data set from one provider and operator from the Space industry, and use it alongside, and in combination, with another,” says Boggett, who is investing in Edgybees.
“This is a huge problem in the Space industry at the moment. It’s a holy grail in order to be able to address this problem,” he says. “This is where Edgybees is now focusing itself. They are able to geo-register – able to fix the location on these different data sets in an autonomous way with their software application. It’s a hugely scalable opportunity. Working with partners like Azure and AWS, they can rapidly reach a very large market opportunity.”
McMaster says the exponential growth in space-generated data is already contributing to global security, economic development and a range of efforts from the reduction of carbon emissions to natural disaster response.
“To take full advantage of growing space capabilities requires accurate, authoritative and transferable data – and that’s why I’m enthusiastic about Edgybees’ geolocation capability applied to Space-based surveillance and collection platforms,” McMaster told the OurCrowd SpaceTech seminar. “Edgybees could help standardize that in a way that makes big data analysis and the application of artificial intelligence technologies more effective in overcoming some of the most crucial challenges we’re facing.”
Edgybees could extend its experience to address international challenges, McMaster says, from early warnings about hostile actions and missile attacks by rogue nations to climate and weather disasters.
The technology could answer “the need to understand better the sources of carbon emissions to prioritize actions to save the planet for future generations, the need to provide warning of, and track the development of, natural disasters from tsunamis to hurricanes, tornadoes to droughts and wildfires, the need to track, respond to and provide relief for humanitarian catastrophes,” McMaster says.
For more information about investing in Edgybees through Jerusalem-based OurCrowd, click HERE.