[Startup Bharat] Belgaum-based SenseGiz’s IoT device is ensuring social distancing at workplaces
When Abhishek Latthe was doing his master’s in Mechatronics at South Hampton, UK, he wanted to setup an IoT and hardware startup in his hometown in Belgaum, Karnataka. After completing his studies, Abhishek worked for his family’s marketing business for a while. He says he was looking for the right time and hook to start-up in the IoT space.
Abhishek startedin Belgaum in 2013. The startup initially came up with two products based on IoT - FIND, a device tracker that prevents one from losing their belongings, and a wearable device to focus on health safety monitoring.
By 2016, SenseGiz had sold 20,000 units of FIND worldwide. However, in 2018, the company pivoted from a B2C to a B2B model and built on its earlier products to come up with COIN, an asset and people tracking solution for large enterprises.
“We saw a better opportunity for our products in the B2B domain and pivoted our products and business model,” says Abhishek.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, SenseGiz says it has tweaked its previous technology to help prevent further business shutdowns.
Social distancing and contact tracing
In the current COVID-19 times, COIN aims to enforce social distancing and contact tracing, which can help companies keep their employees safe.
COIN is an end-to-end solution for predictive maintenance, environment condition monitoring, perimeter security, and real-time indoor asset and people management, which uses a combination of proprietary mesh connected hardware, cloud, analytics, and machine learning.
“We were already working in a related domain when we launched the product in 2018. Previously, the end result was to save costs, improve efficiencies/revenues, and have greater visibility on the supply chain of our customers,” says Abhishek.
“We design and build the hardware, firmware, as well as the software platform. Our business model consists of upfront payment for the hardware and a SaaS model for the software platform,” he adds.
Abhishek says they have already started working with several blue-chip companies in India, USA, Spain, and Japan for the same. Apart from India, the team has sold COIN in Japan, the US, and Singapore.
How does it work?
SenseGiz’s flagship product COIN creates a large, ultra-low power proprietary mesh network of sensor nodes, which can be connected to the cloud via Wi-Fi/Ethernet/LTE gateways. Each sensor node communicates with other tiny sensor nodes as well as with the cloud.
“We have analytics and machine learning built into the edge nodes as well as on the cloud platform. We've currently got motion sensing, temperature, and humidity sensors built in a coin-sized form factor. We help customers by improving their efficiencies, productivity, security, and by reducing costs,” says Abhishek.
Currently, the primary focus of the product is to facilitate companies to enforce social distancing and detailed historical contact tracing at workplaces to minimise disruption and quickly isolate only the affected people and areas.
“We use a hardware tag worn as an ID card or wristband and a software platform to achieve this,” he says.
Apart from social distancing, the product also helps identifies violators and prevents overcrowding in one area in offices.
Abhishek says, most of the app-based solutions rely on each employee keeping the GPS and Bluetooth on at all times, without which it doesn't work. And many workplaces do not allow using phones on the work floor, and people might not carry phones with them all the time, which affects tracing performance using an app-only solution.
The startup claims the data remains private to the company and is not sent to third party servers as in case of “app only” solutions. The tags are reusable and can be re-assigned to any other employee or user. The employer also gets alerts if people take off the band, which helps ensure 100 percent compliance.
“Our tags use the same electronic modules, which ensures high accuracy compared to the use of different smartphones from manufacturers with varying accuracy when used for social distancing or tracing. App-based solutions work on GPS and can track people on streets, but for indoor locations like office/factory, such apps cannot tell you which floor did the person visit and will not trace the path within the buildings. GPS coverage is not reliable inside buildings too. This is where our solution comes in with detailed floor and room level contact tracing,” says Abhishek.
The business model and market
SenseGiz sells the hardware upfront for $20 and works on a SaaS model. It charges a monthly subscription for the software platform and app. The subscription cost is $5 per person per month. This depends on the volumes as well. The price goes up with a small deployment and goes down for a large scale one.
According to Machina Research data cited at the TiE panel, the global market for IoT in 2020 will see $373 billion in revenue, with $194 billion from hardware and $179 billion from software. India will account for $10–12 billion of this total revenue.
Some other wearable device startups in the market include Vishal Gondal’s GOQII that is focussed on tracing and detection. Apart from this, there are several startups that focus on tracking and tracing but used for logistics sectors like Locus.
While the 27-member team refused to share specific numbers, the startup has posted 100 percent growth in terms of numbers for FY19-20, and is looking to triple that in FY20-21 despite the COVID-19.
SenseGiz also won the National Entrepreneurship award from former Union Minister Late Arun Jaitley in 2017, as well as several industry body awards in the last couple of years.
“We have been a part of Cisco and Maruti Suzuki Accelerator programmes, and have won top honors at each of these programmes too and work closely with them. These programmes as well as several advisors and investors associated us have helped us address the challenges of scale,” says Abhishek.
Clients and future plans
“Close to 70 percent of the product for the COVID-19 use case was already built given our existing product line. So we did not incur a huge cost on building this, but our team has worked every day for the last two months, to build this and deliver it to our customers,” adds Abhishek.
SenseGiz has clients in the automobile sector, pharma industry, construction industry, oil and gas industry, among others. For the social distancing and contact tracing solution, the team is seeing demand from all of these sectors worldwide. It is currently deployed in the US, Japan, India, Spain, Singapore, Brazil, and the Middle East.
Speaking of their future plans, Abhishek says, “Apart from the solution in focus against the COVID-19 pandemic, our primary focus remains serving our customers with our solutions for predictive maintenance, environment condition monitoring, perimeter security, real time indoor asset and people management worldwide. We are in an expansion phase and have recruited five new team members in the lockdown period as well. We are aiming to be a Rs 100 crore revenue company in the next two years.”