Eagle Eye Networks announced on Tuesday that it has raised $40 million in funding from Accel that it will use to develop artificial intelligence (AI) solutions on its cloud-based video surveillance platform. Accel, a long-time Silicon Valley venture capital firm, has invested in a number of other tech companies, including Facebook, Dropbox, Spotify, and DocuSign.
According to Dean Drako, Founder and CEO of Eagle Eye Networks, this marks the first time that a “Tier 1” venture capital firm like Accel has invested in the video surveillance space, which he believes speaks volumes about the company as well as the opportunity that is before the industry as it pertains to AI.
“Eagle Eye Networks pioneered the video surveillance industry’s move to the cloud, and AI applications will drive the industry’s next transformation,” Sameer Gandhi, Partner at Accel, said in a statement announcing the funding round. “Eagle Eye is in the pole position to make this happen.”
While Eagle Eye Networks efforts thus far have been to migrate traditional, on-premises video surveillance deployment onto its true cloud platform that transmits all video to the cloud in a cyber secure manner and not just certain portions of it, Drako says that process has involved some “pretty heavy plumbing” over the past ten years and included hundreds of thousands of cameras as well as all of the different codecs, browsers, etc. Now that they have video data in the cloud, the company plans to take advantage of the opportunity to bring AI-powered analytics – weapons detection, people counting and so forth – to its end-users via the cloud, which could revolutionize how analytics are used in the industry.
“Analytics are really hard to do when you’re doing them at the edge because you’ve got to roll somebody to the site, they’ve got to install hardware, change the cameras… and it’s just a mess to do,” he says. “Now, we have all the video in the cloud and we have tremendous amounts of compute power in the cloud, so we can start to enable and enhance and make these features available at the click of a button. That is really going to change the game for customers.”
In addition to developing its AI portfolio, Drako says the funding will be used to expand the company’s global footprint, which currently includes offices in Japan and the Netherlands and data centers in 11 different locations around the world, into the Middle East market as well as help them more vigorously pursue projects in the federal government vertical. Drako adds that the development of analytics technologies will also benefit their integrator and reseller partners as it provides them with yet another potential revenue stream.
Because the market for analytics driven by machine learning and neural network technologies is changing so rapidly, Drako says that many people are still in the midst of figuring out how to make them work and apply them in real-world video deployments.
“The hardware is changing, the software is changing and that is the biggest challenge,” he explains. “It’s going to be able to do a lot of great stuff but figuring out how to do that stuff is going to change. In a couple of years, we’re going to throw out all of the old stuff and we will probably do that twice or three times before we get to the place where we go, ‘oh, this is the best way to do it.’ That reinvention is one of the biggest challenges and the way we’re going to overcome it is by using the cloud so that the customer doesn’t have to deal with that headache.”
Being one of the pioneers and evangelists for the use of cloud in security, the adoption of which has grown mightily in recent years, Drako says that there are some similarities that can be drawn between the rise of cloud and AI analytics in that they are new technology, however; there are also several marked differences.
“The cloud is challenging for adoption because it is a change in paradigm for the customer. They’ve got to throw out their old way of thinking and think about a service rather than hardware, the video is not on their premises and there’s emotional things that come in because it is a big change,” he adds. “Whereas the addition of analytics in the cloud or the addition of analytics at the edge is a more palatable, smaller step in the change curve in many ways. In the technology curve, it is just as big as the cloud, but on the emotional curve I think it is significantly smaller.”Joel Griffin is the Editor-in-Chief of SecurityInfoWatch.com and a veteran security journalist. You can reach him at [email protected].