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About iOmniscient - Leader in Video Analytics
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Thinking back on over a decade of Leading the Market

In 2001, the two of us decided to establish iOmniscient, after both of us left DEC which had become Compaq and was soon to become HP. Originally there were four founding members but two decided to leave when they realized the size of the investment which was required to bring this very new technology of artificial intelligence to market. This was not unreasonable as we were pioneers in this field and we had to not just sell to the market, but to educate it and in fact create it.

Our technology was initially based on research from an Australian Government sponsored Research Group since the early 1990s. Once we acquired the intellectual property we discovered there was a lot to be done in terms of productizing it. In 2004 we launched our first product and it took us to 2007 to begin to get good traction.

98% of start-ups fail after 5 years. The fact that we have been operating for over ten years is a credit to all our partners, resellers and customers who have believed, worked with and grown with us. Today, 12 of the 20 world's largest Systems Integrators (SI) have selected us as their partner of choice for Video Analytics, putting together unique solutions to give them their own special edge. In an industryplagued with project disasters caused by companies over promising and under delivering and giving Video Analytics a bad name we had to prove ourselves to them in multiple ways – most importantly with successful projects.

And we have a very strong long term road map and plan of action for moving forward.

The Company Philosophy

There are certain principles and philosophies that we have lived by:

i.     Making the Impossible Possible

We expect to do things that others believe are impossible. Take the ability to cope with crowds. Coping with crowds has always been the most difficult challenge in Video Analytics. Lots of companies say they can do Object Detection or Counting or whatever. They never mention that they can only do it in an empty scene. When we first started we recognized that we had to solve these difficult problems for our systems to be useful. This is why today only iOmniscient can do Object Detection or Graffiti Detection or Counting or Face Recognition and a host of other types of behavior analysis IN A CROWDED SCENE. Only iOmniscient can See through the Crowd. Most of these capabilities are patented ensuring a long window of opportunity.

ii.    Accuracy & Reliability

We addressed the problem of False Alarms. Very early on we realized that the biggest problem in CCTV based video analysis was false alarms. A system that generated an unacceptable level of false alarms would fail. We therefore built a set of sophisticated algorithms called NAMS (Nuisance Alarm Minimization System) to arm all our products against false alarms. Despite all the other technologies that we have developed we still view NAMS as being our most shining achievement.

iii.   Cost Effective

Are we the Rolls Royce of Video Analytics? No. While technology wise we attempt to be the Best in Class with whatever technology we implement, we are always conscious of building products that are competitively priced. In every technology class we attempt to price ourselves below our main competitors. And in each technology class we have developed Starter Packs for those customers who would like to pay less and are satisfied with the lower capabilities provided by our competitors. So if our customer wants a bicycle we can provide him with one. However if he wants a jet, then no one else can give him a better and faster one.

And most importantly we have focused on the overall cost of ownership, designing products like iQ-Hawk which can reduce storage and network bandwidth costs by a factor of 200 changing the whole economics of doing surveillance. What difference does it make if your software costs are 50% higher if we can operate with 200 times less network bandwidth and storage? The ultimate goal is to ensure that the overall solution we provide is the most cost effective in the market.

iv.   Flexible and Easy to Use

We designed a flexible architecture. From the beginning our design was Open and able to cope with Analog or IP cameras. It was always distributed and infinitely scalable. We built universal connectivity modules to allow us to interface with the majority of camera brands and models and we focused on ensuring that the product was light in terms of computing power required.

v.    Comprehensive End to End Solution

We focused on having the broadest and most comprehensive set of capabilities in the industry. Whether it was a simple VMS or an inexpensive Starter Pack or the most sophisticated convergence of Detection and Identification technologies, our customers could get it from us.

vi.   Broad Industry Coverage

We studied every major industry that we wanted to operate in (30 in all) and developed specialized applications relevant to each one.

vii.  24x7 Global Support

And we knew that support was important so from the beginning we set up 3 support centres (in Toronto, Sydney and Delhi) to ensure our customers could get our help when they needed it. Since then we have put in additional language specific centres. The 24x7 support has been made easier because the software was designed to be diagnosed and implemented remotely.

Every day we thrive to create more differentiators and expand this list by coaxing our engineers into moving the technology to the next innovative peak. Previously, we would tell our customers not to watch CSI and expect real life systems to deliver what they see on television. Today, we urge our engineers to watch CSI and other science fiction shows and endeavor to make what is an illusion developed in a movie studio into a reality.

 

Making our Difference felt

From the beginning our focus has been on creating the market and differentiating ourselves.

We know that the technology will keep improving for many years and we expect to lead this continuous improvement. We are not in this business to make short term profits and then make a quick exit after three years (as most of our competitors have hoped to do). We have continued to invest in very long term developments.

So unlike the hundreds of others, we have not attempted to develop a minimal product just to be in the market or to leverage other non video analytics related products (e.g. camera, VMS etc). We are in this business with the objective of being the first movers in each new innovation.

There are now hundreds of video analytics companies with predominantly similar technologies – but there is no supplier like iOmniscient who can cope with crowded and complex scenes. iOmniscient has successfully conquered many challenges over the past decade including managing innovation, motivating people to build the world's system and maintaining financial integrity.

Managing Innovation

Today we find ourselves in the fortunate position where we have developed a technology lead over most of our serious competitors of approximately 5 years. Where we have patents the lead is closer to 20 years. We can do anything that any of our competitors can do and we do it better. And of course we do a whole range of things that no one else can do.

Managing innovation is a key strength for us. Many of our competitors who have been swallowed up by larger companies have lost their ability to innovate. Taking new ideas and driving them to commercialized reality has been critical to our success. To generate the new ideas we have funded research projects at several Universities initially in Australia and now around the world.

Motivated People build smart systems

Finding experts in Artificial Intelligence is not easy. Hence a majority of our staff have joined us as fresh graduates and they have been trained by us.

We focus on retaining good employees. Our key employees have been with us for a long time and are the jewels that shine in our crown.

We are very fussy about who we employ. Attitude is perhaps the most important thing we look for. We have a philosophy of never having to make people redundant due to lack of work. We believe this is a management problem which should not be transferred on to our staff. This does not mean that poor performance is tolerated of course.

Maintaining Financial Integrity

As one of the only Video Analytics companies not dependent on venture capital we initially felt we were greatly disadvantaged. After the Global Financial Crisis we realize that we were in fact fortunate. While competitors were being starved of cash by financiers worried about their short term exit plans we were free to make strategic investments in the technology helping us to widen the gap between us and our nearest rivals. Having broken even financially (back in 2007) in a market where most players have found it hard to turn a profit, we were not forced into a fire sale.

Over the years we have had many downs with several start-ups attempting to steal our technology, bureaucrats thoughtlessly adding layers of bureaucracy and the Global Financial Crisis putting a damper on the spending plans of some customers. But we have also had our ups with the phenomenal support from various government departments around the world, particularly in our home base in Sydney (Australia) and we have been fortunate to have never needed to fight a legal battle in the courts.

We have had to deal with challenges of integrity. We provided the systems for the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006 and were invited to participate in the 2010 Games in Delhi. We decided not to proceed when we could not reconcile their unethical business practices. We have had to do this in several other countries as well. It was painful to forego the revenues and see competitors walk in without any qualms but we felt we are in this for the long haul and it is better to sacrifice short term profits to ensure that we live by our principles.

   
 

Thank you again

We would like to invite you – our resellers, partners and customers to continue on this journey with us. The products and technologies at the end of the next 10 years will be very different to what they are today. It would be true to say that when we started we could not imagine how the product would look today. We cannot predict what future products will look like in 10 years. But wherever this journey takes us we expect to be leading in this push for evolving Video Analytics technology. Travel with us on this adventure into the future.

Ms Ivy Li
Dr. Rustom Kanga