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Leuven-based minicomputer watches the shop after the lockdown

27 April 2020

The Leuven start-up Edgise has developed a small device that keeps track of how many people are in a room and can even see if they are wearing a mouth mask.

Cronos Group

It may become a little clearer today what life will be like for shops and other public places after the lockdown. In any case, there is a real chance that there will be a limit to the number of people that can be in a room together for a long time to come.

The small company Edgise developed a small computer that can help with this. It contains a small camera and a chip with an AI (artificial intelligence) algorithm to recognise people. If you hang a device at the entrance of a building and one at the exit, it indicates perfectly how many people are inside at any given moment.

Such a count can also be done with a simple sensor, but the creators see several reasons why their technology can be of interest to many parties. The minicomputer is ready for use in any room. No special access gates need to be installed.

In addition, the built-in AI makes it possible to program other applications as well. With a simple update you can just as easily use it to count the cars in a street, to recognize people with and without mouth masks, or to check if people keep enough distance," says Sam Sterckval, Edgise's managing partner.

Jan Vanalphen of Raccoons Group, of which Edgise is a member, says the device can also help with a data-driven policy. Operators of shops, museums or other places can use it to build up certain insights, such as at what times more or fewer visitors turn up. And unlike solutions that track the smartphone, it does so completely anonymously, without keeping track of personal data'.

Edgise says they are already in talks with retailers and some municipalities and police zones. Among other things, there is interest from some coastal municipalities that want to anticipate the influx of tourists this summer.

Edgise was founded by Nick Destrycker in September last year and builds AI solutions that run at the 'edge'. This means that no connection is made to a server in the cloud, but that all calculations are done locally (at the 'edge' of the network). Edgise is part of the Leuven Raccoons Group, an umbrella group of seven tech startups active in innovative technology such as chatbots, blockchain and quantum computing. Raccoons, which had a turnover of 1.5 million euros in 2018, is part of the Antwerp IT group Cronos.

Source: De Tijd, translated by Leuven MindGate

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