Technology scaler Calumino offers an innovative solution for thermal sensors. Their patented, low-cost sensor technology sees heat instead of light, while the integrated Artificial Intelligence detects people, pests, and objects in all kinds of areas. Bart de Jong explains that the military and the defense sectors are traditionally the ones investing in this type of technology. For mass markets, however, using military-grade sensors is economically not viable. For the military, this is the “perfect human detection technology” as humans are always visible in the thermal band due to our elevated body temperatures. For mass-market applications, nevertheless, it needs to be privacy, non-intrusive, and low cost. That is the solution offered by Calumino, by developing a resolution low enough to see humans as “blobs,” always ensuring privacy protection, while manufactured at low cost.
Closing two technological gaps – firstly between privacy-intrusive IP cameras and non-intelligent PIR motion sensors, and secondly between low-cost, low-performance thermal sensors and the expensive high-performance ones -, Calumino’s technology adds an important layer to its product: Artificial Intelligence. “Our imager will eventually be cheap enough to be installed in any building, hotel room, school, factory, aged care community, and eventually smart homes. You’ll be able to sense all rooms or all areas continuously, count people, detect human activity, but it will be impossible to identify them. We want to make military tech available for mass markets and apply it everywhere where privacy and cost are a concern,” he explains. Bart highlights that the privacy issue, especially in Europe, is of great relevance. As the requirements get stricter, having a solution that enables fast and accurate detection while keeping people’s data confidentiality is of the utmost importance.
When it comes to the actual application of 5G for Calumino’s technology to operate, the main driver is not just the higher bandwidth it brings. For many embedded devices, mobility is required, so it needs to be battery operated, especially in outside areas. As Bart discloses, “It is important that we have this low resolution, not only for privacy concerns but also to limit data and power usage.”
Combining this characteristic with 5G enables the application to be used remotely while enjoying enhanced coverage and extended battery lives. In addition, this could allow the technology to be used in combination with other applications, adding even more value to the final product.
Calumino is currently working on integration projects in the security (intruder detection, fire safety), smart building (people presence and counting), and industrial (rodent, asset monitoring) segments. For the healthcare space, the company is developing an application for elderly care, covering probably one of the critical concerns in care institutions: falls. As Bart says, “Unfortunately, you hear frequent stories of people falling and lying for hours on the floor, waiting for help. With the appropriate technology, that will be no longer an issue.” It is known that 5G has a much better signal and a much more stable connection, which is very important in these healthcare environments.
The home and nursing care sectors are, therefore, industries with which Calumino is working very closely. “We want to have this application available for the mass market in the mid-term. The current focus is on setting up volume production and B2B product integration, and once we are ready, we can venture into consumer applications with our partners. We will be able to target prices that people have never seen before for this kind of technology, making it affordable and accessible for everyone,” Bart explains
With an ambition to explore mutual business relations, run product integration projects, and expand its technological capability and brand recognition, Calumino offers its expertise in thermal imaging, computer vision analytics, and artificial intelligence to strengthen the 5G Hub’s ecosystem. According to Bart de Jong, for beyond the technology, being part of the 5G Hub is all about the ecosystem and its group of highly innovative companies, working together to bring the latest developments to the markets by combining their strengths. “The 5G Hub, with the High Tech Campus, VodafoneZiggo, Ericsson, and Brainport Development, has gathered a fantastic group of partners around them, and I think that, with the focus areas they have, it is a perfect fit with what we are after,” Bart explains.
By signing an ecosystem partnership with the 5G Hub, Calumino envisions working together with this ecosystem to connect their customers to the new solutions available. “We are developing solutions that need to be connected. And obviously, we expect there will be partners in the 5G Hub ecosystem that could be very happy to see the possibilities our technology offers and work with it.” For him, when it comes to the integrated solutions that create formidable products for end customers, they can only happen thanks to the partners in this ecosystem. “When you think of the integrated solution, you think beyond your own technology,” he says.
Bart believes that healthcare is one of the areas that could benefit from an agreement like the one established between Calumino and the 5G Hub. The life expectancy of the Dutch and European population, in general, is growing. As fewer people get to be looked after by their children, nursing homes get crowded. As a result, the Dutch government is pushing all kinds of policies into the market to encourage people to stay longer at home, which meets the population’s expectations. “I think there’s a big market driver for people living at home, and I envision technology playing a big role in that. Because there are not enough caregivers, and people don’t have that many children anymore to continuously care for them when they get older. Technology can’t replace the support of people. Still, with a solution like ours, you’ll be able to monitor living patterns and go into prevention mode, keeping people safer and providing care when needed,” Bart reflects.
For him, the best outcome for this partnership would be to have a joint project with other partners from the ecosystem, showing the combined strength of technologies. According to Bart, the added value here really is the idea of co-creation: “We all have our customers and partners. And by combining our networks, I perceive this is as a successful enterprise if we see that this partnership brings acceleration in terms of innovation and commercial success for all of us,” he says.