RoboticsCats is among the Top 50 startups for the 4YFN Awards 2023

The 4YFN Awards is a global startup competition aimed at finding the best digital startups around the globe. It is the highest official recognition offered exclusively to startups during MWC Barcelona 2023. 

Fig 1: RoboticsCats is among the Top 50 startups for the 4YFN Awards 2023

This year, 4YFN received hundreds of startup applications from no less than 49 countries around the world, an all-times record for the organisation. Our startup RoboticsCats is thrilled to have been selected as part of the exclusive Top 50 startups list, reserved for companies who ranked at the top on criteria including innovation, soundness, traction, potential, impact and fit. 

Humanising Technology, 4YFN 2023 event theme, speaks about Startups as a force of disruption. The event will showcase and debate how entrepreneurs and their ecosystems can build a more humane technological playing field to solve society’s current and upcoming challenges. We are 100% on board with this mission and are pleased to have the chance to form part of this journey.

On Friday Nov 11, 2022, 4YFN will be announcing the 5 finalists of the competition, chosen by a panel of industry experts and investors from organisations like Playfair Capital, LUMO labs, Draper B1, Harbinger VC, GSMA Foundry, Seaya and others. Stay tuned to the announcements here and on 4YFN social media channels

RoboticsCats is a digital and mobile startup. Our first product is the Insight Globe Mobile (IGM) app launched in February 2020, six months after we founded the company. IGM empowers InsightFD wildfire detection system customers to easily receive and use image-based wildfire detection alerts on their smartphones

The COVID-19 outbreak accelerated our mobile-first strategy. We launched our consumer product ReportFires web app in March and the ReportFires app on Kickstarter in October 2020 respectively. ReportFires is a free crowdsourcing platform to facilitate people to report and receive wildfire outbreak locations. Modern map app design, single hand operation which takes less than three seconds to report and share wildfire location.

Fig 2: ReportFires iOS app KickStarter campaign, September 2020

We built and installed the world’s first AI wildfire detection service-as-as-service deployment at Big Tree Animal Sanctuary and Adoption Centre in March 2021. We connect AXIS Communications HD and 4K surveillance cameras to a congestion-free 5G network via a Netgear Nighthawk M5 router. The animal center users use ReportFires app to receive detection alerts. The design and lessons learned in serving this non-profit customer became the foundation of our LookOut wildfire detection SaaS.

Fig 3: The world’s first AI wildfire detection SaaS deployment over 5G cellular network – Big Tree Animal Center
Fig 4: live image of Kai Kung Leng, Hong Kong

Our project was nominated by the Hong Kong Government as one of the innovations funded by the Subsidy Scheme for Encouraging Early Deployment of 5G

Between June and September 2021, we implemented our first and second international LookOut customers at Piriapolis in Uruguay and Barra do Garcas in Brazil. They are innovators. We shared their success stories at the UNEP Modern Technologies for Disaster Management Webinar on 28th September 2021. Since then we have been working with customers to use LookOut service to protect forests, communities, and infrastructure in Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

Fig 5: Barra do Garcas in Brazil is using the city and the nature using LookOut wildfire detection SaaS

We focus on global partnerships in 2022 to innovate faster and better. We team up with startup communities, research institutes, and NGOs to add new capabilities to the LookOut platform. One new tool is our LookOut Cam app which turns an Android phone into an image input device for our LookOut wildfire detection SaaS. We shared our mobile strategy at ViennaUp’22 Connect Day and demonstrated the prototype at the 5G International Exchange Forum in Vienna.

Fig 6: ViennaUp’22 Connect Day, 31-May-2022
Fig 7: 5G International Exchange Forum in Vienna, 1-June-2022

Top 50 startups for the 4YFN23 Awards is a strong encouragement to our digital and mobile-first strategies over the last few years! Kudos to our customers and partners. We work together to build the world’s most mobile-friendly wildfire detection solutions. It is a long and rewarding journey: Hong Kong, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, USA, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Mozambique, Latvia, Greece, Portugal, and Spain.

Fig 8: We are experimenting to use smartphone to detect wildfires and waterbirds
Fig 9: LookOut wildfire detection SaaS support surveillance cameras and smartphones as image input devices

Our LookOut Cam app, LookOut wildfire detection SaaS, and ReportFires app provide an end-to-end mobile AI wildfire detection solution. It empowers users to use our technologies at their fingertips. All we need is an internet-connected smartphone.

Register your free LookOut wildfire detection SaaS trial account and download LookOut Cam app now.


What if?

Time flies. Today is my 7th day back in Hong Kong after the two-week Austria business trip. It is also my 7th and last day in the quarantine hotel.

Other than business-related online meetings and phone calls, I don’t have any real-time interaction with other people. It is a moment of solitude.

Four Points by Sheraton Hong Kong Tung Chung is a nice hotel. Clean and tidy. I can see green mountains, blue sea and sky from my room. I can sometimes see cars, ships, UFO (unidentified floating objects), cable cars, birds, and an imaginary wildfire…

Solitude is creativity’s best friend.

What if there is a wildfire on the opposite mountain at midnight when I am sleeping? What if between the opposite mountains and me is a dry grassland? What if a strong wind blowing in my direction spreads the wildfire quickly to the hotel? What if I am not allowed to leave the quarantine hotel even when it is burning?

What if I point my smartphone to the mountains and use it as a camera for the LookOut wildfire detection service? What if LookOut detects the initial wildfire outbreak, sends alerts to the fire department to help them take timely action to control the fire, and saves me and my neighbors? What if I create this solution?

A long and silent Saturday afternoon.

Wish everyone a joyful Sunday tomorrow.


My demo day in Latvia, 31-March-2022

I presented on the Silvatech Public Demo Day on 31-March-2022. Some of the cohorts presented at the event venue in Latvia while some others participated virtually. I joined remotely from Hong Kong.

I was answering questions after my 3-minute presentation. Source: SilvaTech

On top of topics related to forest tech, the Silvatech Growth Accelerator program covered areas that are common in a well-structured 12-week accelerator program – team building, product development, sales, marketing, investor pitch, lead generation, market engineering, competitive analysis and fundraising, etc. A busy schedule.

As a first-time entrepreneur, I found the program was very practical and productive, especially those two-week workshops focusing on Product Sprint and Market Engineering. I learned a lot by experiencing and observing how much we and other cohorts traveled and improved by working thru proven methodologies.

The Sprint Book

On the Demo Day, there was a short introductory animation for each startup before its presentation. The animation thing was a very nice surprise to me. It was a bigger surprise to me when I watched the animation for Robotics Cats:

The RoboticsCats’ introductory animation on the SilvaTech Public Demo Day.

I recalled in the application interview last December, LVM and SWG interviewers asked me why Robotics Cats is interested to join this Latvia-based accelerator program. “First of all, I am very keen to learn more about forest tech from the program and other cohorts. Secondly, the program is mostly virtual, I can and will be committed to participating in it. Last but not least, it was not our first time in Latvia. We did join our partner to take part in the wildfire detection competition in Q1 2020. We were not well prepared and did not win last time. It was graceful that our partner supported us to do a pilot after the competition to improve our AI wildfire detection. We improved a lot in the last two years with more pilots and customers in Europe. We are ready now and so we come back.” I answered them and showed them the following slide.

Our partner was installing our InsightFD 3 pilot system on a telecom tower

It was so nice when I saw the animation. They listened to us. I appreciate it a lot. Thank you very much.

The 2021-22 SlivaTech program is completed successfully. All cohorts graduated. Bravo!

I join the community formed by entrepreneurs who previously attended other startup programs organized by Startup Wise Guys.

I am now a Startup Wise Guys alumni. It is so cool!

We are Startup Wise Cats

UNEP Modern Technologies for Disaster Management Webinar Series

This is a long weekend in Hong Kong. I have some time to write something. Thanks.

It was my pleasure to present in the UNEP Modern Technologies for Disaster Management webinar last Tuesday (28-Sep-2021). This webinar focused on opportunities and challenges associated with Artificial Intelligence and its use in disaster management. It was the second webinar of the four-part series. The first one (14-Sep) was about Robotics, the third (12-Oct) and fourth (26-Oct) webinars will talk about Drones and the Internet of Things. Please register at: bit.ly/ModernTech4DisasterMgmt

It is a new exposure for me to speak in a UNEP event There are some things very interesting and I would like to share with you.

There were five speakers and six members in the UNEP organizing team (Resilience to Disasters and Conflicts Global Support Branch). These 11 people are based in 11 different countries: Germany, Qatar, China, France, United States, Switzerland, Netherlands, Botswana, United Kingdom, Nepal, and Mexico. I found the teamwork was very good and professional. Kudos to the organizing team!

The webinar attendees asked very good questions! Domain-specific and relevant. Very impressive.

The speakers were AI experts! I learned a lot from this event! It was a very informative webinar. In case you missed the webinar, I highly recommend you watch the video recording. I think you can find it on YouTube.

If you want a quick summary of the presentations, below are my picks.

Opening remarks, by Monique Kuglitsch:

“High-quality data are the foundation of AI-based algorithms.”

It is so true and fundamental!

Dear customer, please clean your camera lens and provide us clear images. Thanks.

Extracting information from social media for crisis response and management, by Dr. Muhammad Imran:

“Deep learning models need, first of all, huge amounts of data. Second, they need to have diversity. So having the footprint of one incident in different cases would greatly help deep learning models to make more robust inferences.”

AI-powered wildfire detection system, by me:

“We need different tools for different stakeholders to stop the threat from spreading. Masks for COVID-19. Early detections for wildfire.”

Monitoring and forecasting floods with artificial intelligence, by William Castaings:

“Velocity and discharge remain quantities of interest which are very often challenging or impossible to measure during extreme events.”

Integrating AI with hazard science to improve disaster resilience, by Craig Fugate:

“This is really about how do you price risk in a way that induces both governments, but more importantly private sector, to change behaviors both in reducing carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases, but also actions they need to take now to mitigate against the impacts.”

“By working together with the right tools, we can bring positive impacts on a global scale today.”

This UNEP webinar series is one the right tools. We need more. I am looking forward to the coming Drones and IoTs webinars! Please join us and register at: bit.ly/ModernTech4DisasterMgmt


RoboticsCats in AcceliCITY

It is an exciting journey.

There are 50 semi-finalists in this year’s QBE AcceliCITY Resilience Challenge program. We are excited that RoboticsCats is one of the 50 startups!

What is AcceliCITY?

AcceliCITY is one of the largest Smart and Resilient City startup accelerators in the world. It focuses on startups that utilize smart city solutions to address risk, equity and sustainability in our urban environments.

Who is the program organizer?

Leading Cities, an international non-profit organization, connects smart cities across the globe with innovations and insight to drive resiliency, equity, and sustainability. It is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Figure 1: 2021 AcceliCITY Resilence Challenge Semi-finalist announcement

What is the accelerator program content?

The 5-month accelerator program is designed to help startups navigate the challenges of working with governments (YEAH!), convey venture value, and network within an expansive Smart and Resilient City ecosystem.

Because of COVID-19, the 2021 program will mainly consist of webinars and online workshops. Usually, the program will start at 10 am Eastern Time (10 pm Hong Kong Time).

What are the monetary benefits to the accelerator cohorts?

A US$150,000 pilot project!

The program culminates with a final pitch event where up to $150,000 in city pilot opportunities are awarded.

AcceliCITY’s direction is to help startups to do business with cities (governments) and  AccelCITY will accelerate the selling cycle by funding a pilot program. For companies targeting government customers, the first pilot deployment is very critical! We know that! And that’s why we’re keen to participate in the program!

“At Leading Cities, we recognize that startup growth and impact require capital from both investors and clients. The AcceliCITY program connects winners with funding, a pilot project, and a pipeline of clients from cities worldwide.”

Figure 2: 2021 AcceliCITY Semi-finalists (partial, source: leadingcities.org)

Who are the 2021 AcceliCITY Semi-finalists?

There are 500+ applicants from 44 countries. The 50 semi-finalists are from 23 countries:

1.USA: 22

2.Canada: 3

3.France: 2

4.Poland: 2

5.Spain: 2

6.Sweden: 2

7.Australia: 1

8.Brazil: 1

9.China: 1

10.Colombia: 1

11.England: 1

12.Finland: 1

13.Germany: 1

14.India: 1

15.Ireland: 1

16.Italy: 1

17.Kenya: 1

18.Portugal: 1

19.Switzerland: 1

20.South Korea: 1      

21.Turkey: 1

22.UAE: 1

23.Uganda: 1

Figure 3: Industry 4.0 Club at Clubhouse

The 2021 AcceliCITY accelerator program has just started. Many new and interesting things. I gave my first Clubhouse speech yesterday! Cool!

It is our honor to join the other 49 startups in this exciting journey!


Big Tree protects Cats and Dogs with Love

Big Tree Animal Sanctuary and Adoption Center (hereafter Big Tree) is a charity organization in Hong Kong. The center is located in a remote rural area surrounded by hills and trees. It is facing high wildfire risks, especially in April and October. Big Tree uses 5G and RoboticsCats AI-Cloud SaaS to early detect wildfire and mitigates wildfire risks to the center and the animals living in it.”

Figure 1: a camera installed at Big Tree Animal Center. The center is located at the foothill.

Above is an extract from the company blog post with the title “Big Tree protects Cats and Dogs by 5G & AI” that I wrote three months ago. It was a good article. That said, with the new experience and lesson learned since then, I should rewrite the title, right the wrong.

Big Tree protects Cats and Dogs with Love.

Big Tree is the first animal center in the world to use AI to detect wildfire. It is an innovative application. Many media [1] are interested to report how Big Tree uses technologies to mitigate wildfire risks. I joined some of the media interviews. The reporters asked very detailed questions. The media crews worked long hours with smiles. Their narratives and videos are both informative and beautiful.

Figure 2: three different media interviewed Big Tree on the same day!

It is joy. It is love.

All the cats and dogs living at Big Tree were abandoned in the past because of their physical sicknesses, disabilities, or aging. The abandonments created more mental damages and broken hearts which are far more challenging to recover than physical wounds. The animals felt remorse, sadness, distress and loss.

Big Tree protects the cats and dogs with love.

Figure 3: Reporter and photographer were busy working on the interview.

In one of the interviews, a reporter asked Big Tree volunteers to share their experience with the new technology. “The new tool helps us to early detect nearby wildfire, and we can evacuate the animals timely if needed and save their lives, it probably can save the animal center structure too. Even better is, we believe the early detection will save the lives and properties of our neighbours further away from the foothill.” Big Tree volunteers replied.

A surprising and inspiring answer.

Figure 4: Neighbours of Big Tree: farms and residential properties

“And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” Matthew 22:39 ESV

Figure 5: Neighbours of Big Tree from a different perspective

Please contact Big Tree at its website or Facebook page if you want to support them.

Remarks:

[1] Below are the recent media reports and case studies about the Big Tree project, in reverse chronological order:

5G x AI 偵測山火 Case Study: NETGEAR M5 5G Router 與 RoboticsCats 保護大樹下庇護站貓狗

Netgear SMB, 26-May-2021

Axis Communications and Robotics Cats provide early wildfire detection to animal sanctuary

A&S Magazines, 17-May-2021

有線新聞 小事大意義 《愛是不遺棄》下集(貓貓篇

HK Cable TV, 15-May-2021

Customer Stories: Early wildfire detection for Big Tree Animal Sanctuary and Adoption Center

Axis Communications, 15-May-2021

Axis Communications 夥Robotics Cats 為大樹下提供山火預報解決方案

IT Pro Magazine, 13-May-2021

“Big Tree” project (Axis Communications, Robotics Cats & Armanda)

Armada International, 6-May-2021

山火監測|香港科技公司助動物庇護站安裝4K鏡頭+AI雲端 助義工全天候預報山火與煙霧

Apple Daily, 18-Apr-2021

30年來不求回報 大樹下為流浪貓狗遮陰擋雨

GotNews, 17-Apr-2021

山火預警|山火蔓延險燒元朗大樹下狗場 創科公司助引進5G山火偵察系統

SkyPost, 2-Apr-2021

AI偵測山火保護社區 影像5G傳雲端 手機App通報

StartUpBeat, Hong Kong Economic Journal, 22-Mar-2021


Netgear M5 5G router review in Hong Kong

I tested Netgear Nighthawk M5 5G WiFi 6 Mobile Router last weekend.

Image: Netgear Nighthawk M5 5G mobile router

1.Why are we interested in 5G?
With the rollout of 5G, cellular data communication services have become more accessible and affordable. We are exploring cellular services (5G, LTE-A, LTE) to connect our wildfire detection hardware.

Most of our deployments are using fixed microwave wireless networks to connect our robots in forests. To move to public 5G/4G cellular services will lower the network management cost and improve cash flow.

An important challenge is cellular signal strength in remote/rural locations where most of our robots/cameras are installed.

We also need a good router that can provide reliable cellular uplink, and wired Ethernet ports to connect to our robots/cameras. We want small physical sizes and power consumption.

2.Netgear Nighthawk M5 5G WiFi 6 Mobile Router
There are only a few 5G routers in the Hong Kong market. Netgear M5 is one of them. The one we are testing is an unlocked version of Netgear MR5100. It is effectively an MR5200.

Netgear M5 supports device connections via WiFi, USB-C tethering (for both Windows PC and Mac), wired Gigabit Ethernet (requires Data Offloading turn-off). It can be powered directly via USB Type-C with the internal battery removed. It is designed as a mobile router, hence it is small (105 mm x 105 mm x 21.5 mm)and light (240g).

The bundled power supply outputs 10.0W or 16.2W

I tested its uplink performance in the rural area. We will use Speedtest app and iPhone 11 Pro which connects to M5 via WiFi. The testing location was Cape Collinson Battery. It is located in eastern Hong Kong Island. 3.5km walking distance from the Chai Wan MTR station. I tested three times, fastest download and upload speeds at 83.8Mbps and 23.2M respectively! Very good!

Image: Cape Collinson Battery location (left). Speedtest test results (right).

3.More about Cape Collinson Battery
Two batteries are built at Cape Collinson in 1938. We can see only one of them now. It becomes a popular eco-travel spot because of its unique history and beautiful landscape. To test the Netgear M5 at Cape Collinson Battery makes the whole journey more interesting!

Image: Cape Collinson Battery
Video: Cape Collinson Battery

“I’m going to live every minute of it.” Joe Gardner


ReportFires is now available on App Store, 20201010

20201010 is a beautiful day.

It is a day for celebration. We made a few great things yesterday.

1.ReportFires app Kickstarter campaign is successfully finished

Our 30-day crowdfunding project ended yesterday morning. Thank all 105 backers from 14 countries! We met our funding goal of US$20000!

We initially were not sure we could meet the goal. App is not a popular Kickstarter category. Anyway, we decided to fund the development of the Free app ourselves. Any third party financial support is a bonus for us! Nothing to lose!

The campaign helped us to promote the app and reach more potential users! B2B and B2C marketing are very different. This is a very valuable lesson learned for us!

ReportFires app Kickstarter campaign successfully met the funding target

2.ReportFires is approved by App Store

On the same morning, Apple approved our submission to App Store! The whole approval process was than 48-hour! Pretty good.

Apple asked a few questions about the use of the ReportFires app and the target uses. The requested a video to show how our AI image detection of wildfire smoke works.

We replied promptly. Apple responded quickly too. It made us thought that Apple found the app useful and wanted to make it available on the App Store ASAP!

Here is the ReportFires App Store link:

https://apps.apple.com/hk/app/reportfires/id1529862986?l=en

ReportFires is now available on the App Store

3.Unwire.Pro interview is published

Unwire.Pro, a popular tech news website, interviewed RoboticsCats.com a few days ago. They found our app was very unique and they were interested in the golden circle, the why-how-what of ReportFires.

The Unwire.Pro crew was very professional and they asked many good questions. We provided them great answers too!

They published the article yesterday at noon! What a coincidence! It helped us to promote the ReportFires app too.

We believe the ReportFires app is a useful tool. It is useful when people are using it.

Here is the online article:

http://unwire.pro/2020/10/09/robotics-cats/executive-interview/

Photo source: unwire.pro

4.Successful fire test in Europe

In yesterday afternoon Hong Kong Time, which was morning Eastern Europe Time (EET), our partner was doing a fire test to demonstrate InsightFD features to the forest firefighter department. The weather was windy and very challenging for wildfire detection! We’re glad that the InsightFD system successfully detected wildfire in the fire test! Cool!

It was a great result. The partner and we spend huge effort to optimize InsightFD for the Eastern European forest environment! And our effort pays off!

It is a beautiful Saturday!

Beautiful day. 20201010

ReportFires app Kickstarter campaign – beta testing

Time flies! The 30-day Kickstarter campaign of our ReportFires app will end this week! As of 04-Oct-2020 noon, there are 99 backers and the project is 90% funded! 4 more days to go! Please support and pledge our Kickstarter campaign!

Besides introducing the new ReportFires app to different stakeholders and promoting our Kickstarter campaign, we were spending a lot of time on testing. We have been testing the beta version of the ReportFires app for more than one week.

The app requires iOS 13. The oldest iPhones support iOS 13 are the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. We did many tests on iPhone 6S Plus to evaluate the app functionality and performance.

“Why the ReportFires app supports iPhones only?” some backers ask. The main reasons are the camera system and edge computing. Edge computing enables the app to work without Internet connectivity. Two lines break first in wildfires – the power circuit and telecommunication cable. In order to make the AI smoke detection most useful, we design the app to process the Machine Learning image detection 100% on iPhone. ReportFires will detect wildfire smoke and make sound alert no matter the iPhone is online (connected to Internet) or offline. ReportFires will help you to detect wildfire even if you don’t have reliable network service.

We used some early-stage wildfire photos to test the app. We used different screen sizes to display the images. The app could detect 90%+ of all the wildfire smokes in the photos! Very impressive.

We’re lucky in Hong Kong that we don’t have frequent wildfires in the city. In order to simulate an actual user environment – an iPhone running ReportFires is monitoring the fire-prone forest near home, we tested the app in our partner’s office. We projected wildfire smoke photos on a huge screen and put an iPhone 6S on a tripod. The app successfully detected smoke in the photos.

We had a gathering last Saturday at our colleague’s home. The government has just loosened the COVID-19 social distance requirement. The team could finally have some good food and spend a good time together! The colleague lives in a suburban village near forests. There is a specific term for this kind of residential area, WUI (pronounced woooeeee), stands for wildland-urban-interface. Controlled burns of debris/rubbish are common in suburban villages. We were lucky to see a controlled burn that day! We tested if ReportFires could detect the controlled burn smoke:

It was our first field test. ReportFires performed perfectly!

ReportFires will be available for Free in App Store in October 2020.

Please support and pledge our Kickstarter campaign!


ReportFires app KickStarter campaign – early-stage wildfire smoke images

Here are some images of early-stage wildfire smoke in Europe & Asia. Do you know where is it?

Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3
Figure 4
Figure 5
Figure 6
Figure 7
Figure 8
Figure 9
Figure 10
Figure 11
Figure 12
Figure 13

You cannot see the smoke?
No worry, use your iPhone. Please install ReportFires app first 🙂

Please support our ReportFires app Kickstarter campaign!

iPod / phone / internet communicator… this September, we re-invent the iPhone!