- The global COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses to take new steps to ensure their workers and customers are protected from infection
- VSBLTY Groupe Technologies’ software is going into digital kiosks that can be used to monitor people’s temperatures as they enter workplaces and stores
- Starting to provide services to the retail sector, VSBLTY quickly added pandemic-influenced safety measures this year to its unique suite of software products
The tech sector abounds with stories of companies that made pronounced pivots, dramatic shifts in products or direction that transformed them into household names and grand successes. Taking a look back, YouTube began as a dating site while the ubiquitous business communications software, Slack, started as an internal tool that an online gaming company built for itself.
But how many of those and other pivots took place in the middle of a global crisis? And how many succeeded because an existing product was perfectly designed for business’ newly crucial health, safety and regulatory needs in a COVID-19 world — and especially in anticipation of a second wave of infections?
VSBLTY Groupe Technologies Corp. (CSE: VSBY) may be writing its own such success story, although its recent moves are less a substantial change in direction than an addition to the sophisticated services its products provide and the business sectors they serve.
“We now have the technology that provides for wellness analysis, capacity management and density metrics to allow for real-time building safety.”
— Jay Hutton, CEO & co-founder, VSBLTY Groupe Technologies Corp.
An independent software vendor, the Vancouver- and Philadelphia-based growth-stage company boasts a suite of products that were created for the retail sector, using machine learning and computer vision to give store owners detailed, though anonymized, data about the customers who come through their doors as well as their habits and reactions while shopping.
Now, says CEO and co-founder Jay Hutton, the five-year-old company has nimbly added to its software — and signed on with hardware partners — so that it can be used to check workers and visitors in and out of retail stores, office buildings, factories and more; monitor their temperatures and whether they’re wearing masks; and even play a role in contact tracing in case of an individual’s positive COVID-19 test.
COVID-19 places a focus on workplace safety
“Because of COVID-19, new protocols are being deployed in both retail and commercial buildings, large venues and public spaces to provide for greater workplace safety,” Hutton notes.
“In order to get the economy running again, it is critical to assure workplace safety for both employers and employees.”
He adds, “We now have the technology that provides for wellness analysis, capacity management and density metrics to allow for real-time building safety.”
“This technology will enable buildings to provide safe access for workers and guests more quickly and efficiently.”
Key to VSBLTY’s service expansion into a smart-building market that’s projected to reach USD$109 billion by 2026 is a deal signed recently to put its suite of software — VisionCaptor, DataCaptor and the AI-driven Vector — into hardware made by Kiosk Information Systems (KIS), the world’s third largest manufacturer of digital kiosks.
Here’s what that means on the ground in just two examples:
A shopper enters a retail store and is greeted immediately by a digital kiosk that scans their temperature from as far as 26 feet away and determines whether they’re wearing a mask, as mandated by store rules. If their temperature is safe and they’re masked, they get a green light and can proceed to shop; if not, they see a red light and, perhaps, a suggestion to consult a physician.
An additional benefit is the possible elimination of the person-to-person confrontations that have, over the last six months, produced dozens of viral videos of angry shoppers and frazzled store clerks since the start of the pandemic.
A worker enters an office building where they, too, stop at a digital kiosk before being allowed access. Again, their temperature is checked and, because they’re in the database already, their presence and the office to which they’re going is logged. In the case of a colleague, visitor or another office worker in the building being diagnosed with COVID-19, that data can be used to determine possible contacts.
Tracking people & data is crucial for business
In both examples, the VSBLTY-powered kiosks help companies manage how many people are in their space and create an audit trail to minimize companies’ exposure to liability and fines in the face of new and changing government safety regulations.
For VSBLTY, whether its software inside KIS kiosks is doing temperature checks, mask checks, building-capacity control or its pre-COVID tasks of gathering retail data, the key is computer vision originally focused on retail — collecting and compiling data to allow humans to then make decisions on issues from safety to merchandising.
“Our core tech is that we teach computers to pull video streams live and then interpret them,” Hutton explains.
“So, when we're pulling video streams for retail, we may be interpreting it for the following meaning: There are this many women in the store, there are this many men in the store. The ages of the men are X, the ages of the women are Y. If we calculate and analyze five different gradients of sentiment” — i.e., how they’re feeling about segments of the shopping experience — “We capture that for the purposes of retail optimization.”
But the pandemic changed, or at least added to, retailers’ challenges, he notes.
“The problem that they came to us with after they had been shut down — and not all retail was shut down — was when it came to opening up in a more aggressive way. The rules were different.”
Growing market to ensure safety in public spaces
The potential markets for VSBLTY’s technology are also evolving. For instance, in July, the company signed a USD$1.36-million deal with Synect, a digital strategy and content creation agency, for its ReadySeeGo digital signage displays in some 2,200 U.S. airports. That’s part of USD$8-10 million in bookings that are part of VSBLTY’s 2020 objectives.
As well, the company is poised with its KIS deal to be a player in the market for retailers, restaurants and sport/entertainment venues looking to use technology to create wellness perimeters, a highly scalable market that’s expected to grow to USD$219 billion by 2023 — especially since, as Hutton mentions, “COVID is going to be around for a while.”
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Within a growing category of business and with VSBLTY’s trio of software modules, which handle visual display, anonymous data analytics and facial recognition, the company spans three areas that no other single company addresses, Hutton explains, and is a “Unique and comprehensive value proposition” for investors.
And it’s aiming to be in a position to capitalize on a daunting time in history.
Learn even more about VSBLTY by visiting its website here.