A company that uses artificial intelligence to detect firearms in active shooting settings has been awarded a US$1.25 million grant by the US Air Force to integrate the technology into existing unmanned aerial vehicles.

This is the third R&D grant the Air Force has awarded to ZeroEasy, whose core business is protecting schools with its gun detection video analytics platform.

With ZeroEyes technology, the camera in a flying drone can be used to locate a firearm as soon as it appears, report it to a weapons specialist at an operations center to assess the threat, and Instruct to take action – all within three to five seconds.

“A quarter of active shootings occur on government property, and we will do everything we can to protect our airmen,” Dover AFB Chief Innovation Officer Captain Nicholas Martini said in a statement.

“ZeroEasy’s technology not only provides another layer of security,” he adds, “it will also enable us to reduce our investment in security personnel and utilize our manpower for more mission-critical tasks.”

In addition to the Dover award, ZeroEyes has a $750,000 grant for drone-robot enabled active shooter deterrence at Ellsworth AFB, SD, and a $1.2 million grant for unmanned ground vehicle automated threat detection at Minot AFB, ND.

robo dog

“DoD was impressed by what we had and asked us if we could apply our technology to mobile cameras, unmanned aerial systems and unmanned ground vehicles,” said co-founder Sam Alimo, ZeroEas chief revenue officer.

Alimo, along with the four other founders of ZeroEasy, are all former leaders of the Navy SEALs team. He said his company’s technology could be very valuable in a war zone.

“When you’re on a mission, the base for protection is often low so having an extra layer of security with drones that can detect someone with a gun in a crowd of people without it, would be a huge asset.” ,” he said.

He explained that the Air Force grant will enable ZeroEyes to adapt its technology, which is currently used on stationary video cameras, on mobile platforms as well as on robotic dogs. “First responders like the idea of ​​walking a gun detection dog in an active shooter situation rather than a human being,” he said.

Optimizing on-the-go vehicles could also open up other business possibilities for ZeroEyes. “A lot of third-party logistics companies and sporting arenas ask us for the technology,” Alimo explained. “Playgrounds want the ability to follow a drone around the stands.”

active solution

Last week, ZeroEyes announced that its gun detection system was being deployed at Vassar Public Schools, located 45 minutes from Oxford High School in Michigan, the scene of a mass shooting in November 2021 that killed four students and seven people were injured. including a teacher. After shooting, Oxford began a pilot program with ZeroEyes.

“I stumbled upon the ZeroEas at a superintendent’s convention. I didn’t know anything about them,” confessed Vassar Public School superintendent Dot Blackwell.

“What surprises me about the product is that it’s very active,” she told TechNewsWorld. “Someone who is ex-military or law enforcement is looking at frames from our cameras 24/7, and me and law enforcement will be alerted in seconds.”

“In these situations, the first few seconds are the key in stopping them,” she said.

Alaimo explained that the ZeroEyes technology can be used with any existing security camera system. “It can identify an object and send an alert to first responders in three to five seconds,” Alimo said. “However, we have a human in the loop because no algorithm will ever have 100% certainty on anything.”

ZeroEasy’s machine learning models have been trained with thousands of samples – everything from snub-nosed revolvers to semi-automatic pistols to submachine guns to assault rifles to shotguns and hunting rifles, he said.

“When the algorithm sees what it thinks is a gun, it will send an alert to our surveillance center,” he continued. “The center is staffed with veterans and law enforcement personnel who are very comfortable in these situations. He has the final say on what a gun is. This way, we ensure that our customers never get false positives. ,

“This process is very fast,” he said. “The camera will see the gun. The image will be sent to our surveillance center, and the surveillance will be sent to the customer in three to five seconds.

privacy protected

Although images are being piped into ZeroEyes’ monitoring center from across the country, it can accommodate workflows with a modest number of analysts.

“The algorithm is such that we don’t get overwhelmed by false positives,” Alimo said. “It’s manageable to the point that we’ve been able to scale to a million cameras without a massive surveillance center.”

“Right now,” he continued, “we are in 30 states and we have less than a dozen analysts in our surveillance center.”

“We have identified hundreds of guns, some of them real, some of them not real, some of them fake, some of them sharp guns,” he said.

Once a potential threat has been identified, the threat system can be notified in a number of ways.

“We have several mechanisms in place to notify customers if some of them don’t work,” Alimo said. “There is a call tree to make sure that no matter what happens, we can find someone on the phone. We also have a mobile app that sends notifications with the shooter’s image, the shooter’s exact location, and a bread crumb trail.

“We also have desktop notifications and integrations with an organization called RapidSOS,” he continued. “They are integrated with 93% of public safety answering points nationwide.”

“A school often tells us to send our alerts to Rapid SOS,” he said, “so first responders can get notification at the same time as a principal so both can enforce their safety protocols simultaneously.”

The combination of artificial intelligence and surveillance video may raise red flags among privacy advocates, but ZeroEyes seems to have covered those grounds. It says its AI does not record, store or share videos or images of students or others, ensuring that privacy is maintained.

According to a CNBC report, less than 1% of Netflix’s 221 million subscribers are playing the service’s games every day.

Based on data from Apptopia, the report revealed that Netflix’s mobile games have had 23.3 million global downloads, and an average of 1.7 million subscribers are connecting to the game daily.

When Netflix announced its move into games in November, it was seen as a revenue diversification strategy at a time when it was sinking cash. Since then, the streaming service has seen a massive exodus of subscribers — 200,000 in the first quarter, nearly a million in the second — so the gaming may be even more important for the service now than it was when it initially launched.

However, it is likely that gaming will be on the back burner for some time. “Unless they stabilize subscription levels and are seeing some momentum from ad-supported levels, I expect to see a lot more aggressive movement on the game front,” said Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research, a consumer technology advisory. hope not.” firm in New York City, told TechNewsWorld.

“This Apptopia report should be disastrous for Netflix’s senior management,” said Mark N. Venna, president and principal analyst at SmartTech Research in San Jose, Calif.

“It confirms what many industry experts have long suspected: gamers don’t see the Netflix brand as even remotely attractive for gaming versus traditional mobile, PC and console gaming platforms,” ​​he told TechNewsWorld.

He said the lack of appeal would deprive Netflix of its ability to strengthen its subscription business and drive incremental revenue through gaming.

no need to worry

Other analysts said Apptopia’s findings won’t cause much consternation in Netflix’s executive suites.

“Netflix should be vigilant and attentive to consumer feedback as it builds out its still-nascent game portfolio, but I don’t think it should be overly concerned,” said Paul Erickson, research director at Parks Associates. Consulting company in Edison, Texas specializing in consumer technology products.

“The company is playing the long game when it comes to being a provider of connected entertainment, and it is learning the habits of its customers,” he told TechNewsWorld. “It’s still early for its gaming aspirations, and I don’t believe its current game with mobile apps is the end of its gaming strategy — just the initial phase.”

George Zizyashvili, principal analyst at Omdia, a research and consulting firm in London, called Netflix’s approach to gaming “cautious and measured”.

“Netflix Gaming launched with just five games worldwide last November. Nine months later, it now offers 26 exclusive games, including games made by its acquired studios,” he explained to TechNewsWorld .

“Netflix recently unveiled several upcoming games as tie-ins for their respective Netflix TV series. Based on its acquisitions and activity in this area, I think Netflix remains committed to gaming,” he said.

questionable value proposition

Michael Inoue, a principal analyst at ABI Research, a global technology intelligence firm, agreed that Netflix shouldn’t be too concerned about the Aptopia findings. “If Netflix is ​​concerned, they had unrealistic expectations,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“Entering the gaming market as a previous outsider is never an easy task, especially when you are targeting mobile games,” he said.

“While Netflix’s mobile games, which still number less than 30, can be included in subscriptions — without ads or in-game purchases — these games are essentially competing for free,” he explained.

“Most mobile games are still free to play and most consumers accept both advertising and in-game purchases, as long as it’s not a ‘pay to win’ – meaning you don’t have to go ahead or win.” have to pay for it,” he added.

Vena pointed out that Netflix is ​​competing in a space with strong competitors who are offering a strong value proposition. “It’s very difficult to promote and defend Netflix’s value proposition in the gaming space,” he said. “Unless it offers some brand tie to their streaming content properties — which may be a non-starter — it’s hard to understand how Netflix can differentiate itself in any meaningful way.”

need more marketing

“Netflix is ​​a company known for streaming video entertainment, not gaming,” Eriksson said. “Neither the brand nor service resonates with the public as a known quantity when it comes to gaming. Without an active marketing campaign and branding push, the change in consumers’ brand perception will be slow and gradual.

“Right now, in the early stages of their gaming strategy, game content is ranked as the value addition to its video content,” he continued. “Whether mobile gaming remains a value-add to increase subscriber stickiness and perceived value of Netflix subscriptions in the long run, or the company creates a broader content and brand push around gaming, it remains to be seen.”

Inouye notes that even though it has a link to Netflix’s game at the bottom of its app, it hasn’t generated a significant amount of marketing. “It makes sense given the current size of its gaming library,” he said, “but as it fills up, or when new titles based on hit shows launch, I’m looking for more direct marketing on their behalf. I look forward to your efforts.”

Rubin agreed that Netflix could do a lot to promote its games and suggested that might change when the company launches one of its proposed new services. “With the launch of the ad-supported tier of Netflix, this could provide them with some inventory to promote their games,” he said.

Zizyashvili cited three reasons for the low response by gamers to Netflix’s offerings: small selection, low customer awareness, and mobile device exclusivity.

“Smart TVs, monitors, set-top boxes and digital media players are the preferred devices for watching Netflix at home,” he explained. “I believe that’s why many Netflix subscribers rarely visit their mobile app for this reason.”

“If Netflix were to bring its games to more devices — for example, through cloud gaming — I think it could significantly increase customer engagement with its games,” he said.

‘Destined to fail’

Inouye agreed that content is a problem with Netflix games at this time. “Netflix doesn’t have enough unique content yet,” he said. “While some titles may be exclusive, many have game archetypes similar to other popular mobile games.”

“Netflix needs more unique IPs that take advantage of its most popular video franchises,” he continued. “The Stranger Things games are a prime example here, with Netflix needing more games of this type, rather than reimagining mobile games with little ties to their exclusive library of content.”

“That’s probably the goal, but it takes time to develop these games and build a library,” he said. “The challenge is finding a way to get the right timing between the life cycle of the video franchise and the time to development and the investment on the gaming front.”

Still, there are those who argue that Netflix made a big mistake in gaming in the first place. Michael Pachter, managing director of equity research at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, said, “Nobody needs Netflix to provide games, just like someone doesn’t need to sign up for video on demand at a sporting event. “

“There’s no natural connection between Netflix’s business and games, and their foray into gaming is set to fail,” he told TechNewsWorld. “It’s like McDonald’s selling groceries, because they serve half the population and the population eats there. It’s not logical that they would include groceries in their offering. Adding a Netflix game is similarly misleading. .