Announcing Oloid AI, on a mission to serve with much gratitude
Today, Oloid is coming out of stealth mode. We were originally planning to announce the general availability of our product in Q1, but little did we anticipate that the world would change so rapidly in 2020. The Oloid journey began in 2018, my co-founder, Madhu, and I banded together to start our new venture, Oloid AI. Since our first meeting, we had found a lot in common - the humbled determination of second time founders, the intense desire to build a product that would impact millions of users and the hunger to align with a bigger purpose.
With Madhu’s strong background in identity and access management and deep expertise in machine learning and my experience of building Saas go-to-market, we set out to build a Single-Sign-On for physical workspaces. Our thesis was simple - points of security vulnerability will move to physical access as cybersecurity gets strengthened. As a simple example, if one were to walk around an office, it would be easier to find a password on a post-it note stuck on a monitor than to penetrate the firewall and hack the credentials. Secondly, while the cloud applications have been integrated into a unified identity framework, physical applications such as time and attendance systems, doors, turnstiles, locks and IoT devices continue to be siloed when it comes to identity and access management. A factory worker or a nurse may have to swipe their badge or use their fingerprint scores of times to go about their workday. The legacy systems are outdated and unfriendly to use. We saw an opportunity to equip the CISO (Chief Information Security Officers) and Heads of Physical Security with the ability to centrally manage the identity and access of their deskless workers.
We were very fortunate to find instant resonance with progressive CIOs and CISOs of industrial companies for whom deskless workers comprised the majority of their workforce. Not only did these executives commit to become Beta customers, but also graciously agree to join our customer advisory board. Over the next 18 months, Oloid’s product and engineering teams worked closely with an amazing crew of IT, facilities, physical security and HR personnel from multiple factories, construction sites and warehouses to iterate and develop a comprehensive facial identity management product. The product design was based on four core principles - ensuring end-user’s data privacy, frictionless user experience, hardware agnostic interoperability with off-the-shelf IP cameras and uncompromising reliability & security. Over the months, we integrated with several backend systems of record such as payroll systems, HR systems, time & attendance systems, locks, turnstiles and physical access control systems. As a result, seamless IT integration became the fifth foundational principle of our product. During the Beta program, we tested our product across diverse industries, use cases and backend systems.
We were convinced that centralized identity management and strengthening of identity assurance and security would be the most compelling value propositions for our customers. But once COVID-19 pandemic paralysed the global economy, industrial companies across the nation, including our beta customers, were asking the question - how do we create contagion safety at the workplace? The COVID-19 crisis presented an unprecedented challenge in terms of keeping businesses operational while maintaining a contagion-safe workplace at the same time while respecting the data privacy of the employees. Our team took this as a challenge to think about our product with a new lens and we asked the question - how can we be of service and immediately relevant?
Our platform was already built to support contactless facial biometric authentication. Therefore, our product was innately suited to provide a touchless and hygienic workflow for common workflows such as time clocking and access control. We had also learned that factories and warehouses in the Eastern parts of the world had instituted methods for temperature scanning of employees to reduce the risk of contagion. During our conversation with essential industrial companies who continued to operate even as shelter-in-place orders were in place, we learnt that most were employing manual processes for temperature scanning by having one of their team members take physical measurements of forehead temperature as other employees enter. We wanted to automate this process and eliminate the risk of exposure to the person taking the temperature and also eliminate human error by introducing automated thermal scanning. We looked at this addition as augmentation of the platform by adding safety attributes to the identity framework.
The last three months have been a race against time. Our team has investigated and integrated with multiple thermal cameras. Oloid is now able to consume an off-the-shelf thermal camera feed and run it through our machine learning models to match the thermal image to a specific identity and extract the most reliable temperature reading from the face (tear ducts to be precise). Used together, facial biometrics and a thermal camera are a powerful way to identify potential risk before an employee is in proximity with other workers. This also allows the company to direct its resources to focus to assist these identified employees who may need additional assistance and perhaps a more thorough secondary screening with traditional methods.
We understand that the privacy and the confidentiality of employee data is an integral part of workforce safety, more so in these times of crisis. The Oloid team has always held data security, ethical and privacy considerations at the forefront of its product design. We have developed a privacy and security infrastructure to ensure the protection of end-user identity and personally identifiable information.
We are here to make a difference in the midst of COVID-19 and beyond with technologies that work for employees, businesses, and communities as a whole. Together, we can thrive in the new normal.