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Hanno Blankenstein, Co-Founder & CEO of Unleash live – Interview Series

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Hanno is a Co-Founder and the CEO of Unleash live. Previously, he was a Partner and Managing Director of the BCG Digital Ventures Asia business, having been the joint CEO of the award-winning strategic design firm S&C, which was acquired by The Boston Consulting Group in 2014.

Hanno became an aviation enthusiast early and is a successful entrepreneur, product and service innovator, coder, business builder and strategy consultant. He has deep tech expertise in cloud, machine learning, networks and hardware. He has incubated and scaled digital businesses globally and has been building and investing in companies for over a decade. He holds an MBA from Duke University.

Could you share the genesis story behind Unleash Live?

I have spent years building digital businesses and advising large companies on digital strategy, from innovation at Vodafone to autonomous vehicles for BMW and Toyota, enterprise data analytics for Qantas, and online telecoms businesses for Telstra.

In 2016 I met my co-founder Jason Grier, who has decades of experience in sports, and we bonded over the potential for live analytics from camera sensors and drones for event broadcasting.

We both strongly believed that vision is the most powerful sense, and that, if insights could be extracted from the immense data being delivered by cameras, they could rapidly provide valuable insights for better decision-making in many areas of enterprise productivity.

From there we began building Unleash live, developing and iterating our product with early customers to ensure we could provide the best and most powerful video analytics platform for enterprises.

When did you first discover that you wanted to become involved in machine learning?

I have deep tech expertise in cloud, machine learning, networks and hardware so it was a natural evolution to dive deeper into this area. I’m passionate with aviation and even wrote a plugin for Microsoft’s Flight Simulator when growing up, which I later sold to the company. I wanted to combine my childhood passion with technical expertise, which I’ve honed over the years.

I’m extremely proud of everything the entire Unleash live team has accomplished thus far and really excited for what is on the horizon.

Unleash Live enables drone operators, enterprises and small businesses to stream video feeds and combine these feeds with computer vision. How difficult of a set-up process is this?

At our core, we make it possible to tap into any type of camera and get valuable data and insights to help make faster and better decisions based on that information. Our customers are able to plug in their existing cameras — whether they’re CCTV, drones, your iPhone camera, or another form of camera — and quickly start to get insights on their video using our inbuilt analytics.

Our platform makes it possible to apply many types of AI analytics — both ours or custom algorithms our customers build — and use it to quickly get insights or alerts to their existing systems. For Cities and Transport customers we can analyze commuter movements, traffic flow, perimeter security, event queues, and for our industrial clients, we support with the analysis of wind turbine blade conditions, solar panel components, power poles and conductors and many other use cases.

Unleash Live offers AI Apps as a SaaS service. Could you discuss some of these different solutions?

We’ve built the Unleash live platform to be highly extensible so that companies in all industries or maturities can apply AI algorithms to their video streams as easily as installing a new app. Every customer’s need is slightly different so our model makes it possible to quickly create new AI apps, or enable customers to upload their own, to detect, inspect and monitor the objects they need to quickly.

We’ve already seen this have a significant impact for our customers. At the onset of COVID-19, infrastructure and in-field inspections were difficult to accomplish. We worked alongside the officials at Miami-Dade county and their transport network, which had eliminated the requirement for tickets on their metro service, to deploy an AI-assisted Bi-Directional People Counter solution to track commuter volume and crowding and assess the impact of the policy without capturing personally identifiable information.

Our utilities customers have also been able to perform wind farm analytics, combining automated UAV flights with computer vision to detect blade damage across wind turbines. The analysis identifies up to nine different types of blade faults with high accuracy, speeding up inspections and reducing costs by up to 40% across the life of the asset.

One of the solutions that is currently offered enables city-wide monitoring for traffic analysis. Could you discuss any trials, or contracts with governments?

We partnered with the City of Sacramento to help them count pedestrians at crosswalks across the city utilizing our People Analysis solution. The partnership allowed the city to improve pedestrian safety and understand how frequently different crosswalks were being used. Additionally, we take that type of analysis one step further and assist city officials with full-scale traffic, curbside, and commuter analysis so cities can improve the quality and speed of structured data for decision-making in their planning and operations teams.

In December 2020, Unleash live Achieved the AWS Public Safety & Disaster Response Competency. What is this specifically and what does it mean for the company?

We’ve leveraged the power of AWS to help our public sector customers protect the public and prepare, respond, and recover from natural or man-made emergencies and disasters. Achieving the AWS PSDR Competency highlights that Unleash live, as an AWS Technology Partner, has demonstrated full security certification and deep expertise within this unique public safety customer segment and is a testament to our commitment to those organizations and their missions.

Is there anything else that you would like to share about Unleash Live?

We’ve made tremendous strides since our founding in 2015; we’re committed to measuring reality more accurately and faster and driving forward industrial transformations for big enterprises and cities alike. One thing we’re really excited about is the work we’re doing in the transportation, wind, and drone spaces. We were a leading pilot customer in helping bring Vodafone’s Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC) capabilities to life on its 5G network. By combining our AI capabilities with the low-latency impact of the Vodafone MEC network, we’re able to gather real-time insights from cameras in public service scenarios, especially during times of COVID-19, such as anonymised passenger capacity management, detecting the use of face masks, and monitoring social distancing.

The proliferation of this fast and secure network access and powerful compute capability will only make AI-powered video camera sensing even more exciting and valuable in the near future.

Thank you for the great interview, readers who wish to learn more should visit Unleash live.

Antoine Tardif is a Futurist who is passionate about the future of AI and robotics. He is the CEO of BlockVentures.com, and has invested in over 50 AI & blockchain projects. He is the Co-Founder of Securities.io a news website focusing on digital assets, digital securities and investing. He is a founding partner of unite.AI & a member of the Forbes Technology Council.