Published on June 29th, 2020 | by Emergent Enterprise0
Sightbit Deploys AI on Beaches to Help Lifeguards Spot Distressed Swimmers
Beaches are less crowded these days because of COVID-19 but that doesn’t mean that swimming is less dangerous. Lifeguards now have help from artificial intelligence in the form of a computer vision software as reported by Paul Sawers at VentureBeat. The AI solution, Sightbit, looks for abnormalities in the environment and reports potential problems to the lifeguards. Now many eyes are looking at the sand, surf and water for signs of trouble. Yes, a child splashing wildly in the water doesn’t necessarily mean the person is drowning. But, the Sightbit alert gives the lifeguard a quicker response time to see it and evaluate the situation. When emergent technology helps avert tragedy, the investment is worth it.
Photo Above: Sightbit
Drowning is the third leading cause of accidental death, according to World Health Organization (WHO) data, with an estimated 320,000 fatalities each year globally. While lifeguards play a crucial role in helping safeguard beaches and pools, the human eye struggles to spot swimmers in distress in large crowds or at a distance — with or without the help of binoculars. Sightbit is harnessing AI to alert lifeguards to potential drowning incidents, as well as flagging other hazardous situations, such as unattended children and rip currents.
Founded in 2019, Israel-based Sightbit is a spinout from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU). The public research university invests in alumni via its Cactus Capital VC fund and has provided pre-seed funding to Sightbit, which is currently raising additional funds as part of a seed round. “Investors around the world have reached out to us, and we have already received funding offers,” Sightbit cofounder and CEO Netanel Eliav said.
In the deep
Sightbit augments standard off-the-shelf cameras with software it says is based on deep learning and computer vision technology, with convolutional neural networks for object detection. Eliav told VentureBeat the system was trained on “tens of thousands of photo stills” to help detect and de-escalate dangerous situations.
Sightbit operates a monthly software-as-a-service subscription model and manages onsite software configuration. It can also help with camera installation, though Eliav noted many beaches already have cameras installed for security purposes.
Sightbit’s system rates sections of a beach using a risk assessment model that considers crowdedness and weather conditions and then estimates how many lifeguards are needed on a given day. The system issues real-time alerts for things like swimmers who appear to be struggling, while predictive analytics can help lifeguards anticipate risk and take preventative actions. A single camera can be stretched to cover roughly 1,000 feet (300 meters) of shoreline, though an area this size is typically covered by three cameras.