2019 FLIR Innovation Challenge

FLIR envisions a world in which our world-leading thermal imaging and sensing technology will be used in combination with technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), and machine learning (ML) to help users make the best possible decisions and in some cases become even better at saving lives and livelihoods.  We’re interested in finding new and innovative ways to apply those combined technologies in four specific applications and we want to team up with startup companies in Sweden to foster ideas and help some of them get developed.

In partnership with THINGS Stockholm, we’re excited to present the 2019 FLIR Innovation Challenge, in which a handful of ideas will be selected to compete and one of those projects will receive pilot funding from FLIR to help accelerate making the idea a reality!

14LogoDARK

THINGS is the number one hub for hardware and industry oriented entrepreneurs, start-ups and scale-ups in Sweden.

What's in it for you?

  • All participants will learn about thermal imaging technology and products and get access to great tools to create compelling real-world solutions that use it
  • All participants whose ideas are selected by FLIR to compete in the challenge will get access to FLIR hardware and software and also receive technical support directly from FLIR to develop their idea.  They will also have the opportunity to present it directly to a FLIR and THINGS jury in April of 2019.
  • The challenge winner will work directly with FLIR in a joint Proof of Concept with a pilot budget of up to SEK 250,000.  Additionally, if there is a strong business case and opportunity for the solution, they may get the opportunity to develop and scale the solution and take it to market together with FLIR.

What's in it for FLIR?

  • FLIR and THINGS will build deeper relationships with innovative startups and ecosystem players in Sweden and discover new ways of using their IR-based technology in new and existing applications
  • With the creation and delivery of new solutions using technologies like AI, AU, and ML with FLIR products, FLIR and their ecosystem will deliver increasingly compelling and complete solutions that give users actionable results and decision support in critical situations
  • Positioning and development of current and future FLIR products (thermal cameras, test and measurement equipment, SDKs, apps, cloud software, etc.) will continue to evolve and improve based on feedback and learnings from the Challenge

Target applications for the challenge

Below are four scenarios describing current usage models or applications of thermal imaging and how we see those applications changing in the future.  These are the specific applications we’re targeting for the Challenge and all submissions must address at least one of them.  At flir.com there are additional application stories and other information about our products that demonstrate how our products are used today within fire-fighting, manufacturing industries, inspection of solar panels and other utility applications, and DIY applications.

Picture1

Today:

Maintenance and repair of mechanical and electro-mechanical equipment.   Mechanical and electro-mechanical equipment (motors, bearings, etc.) usually develop excess heat before they fail, and thermal cameras that measure heat and produce temperature-based images of the objects are therefore useful tools for condition monitoring in the manufacturing industry. Electrical installations of many types also need to be monitored closely for heat buildup that could lead to failures.  Condition monitoring and predictive failure/maintenance are critical processes for avoiding costly power outages due to unexpected equipment failure, and this type of condition monitoring is currently often done through internal manual inspections or by hiring outside thermography consultants to track and analyze thermal data over time. Making decisions about actions needed based on this information requires significant knowledge from the user in order to interpret the temperature data and image correctly.

Future scenario:

Data about a critical asset or piece of equipment that has developed excess heat (for example a motor’s temperature rise above a defined threshold) could be automatically sent to a desktop or mobile app along with all information about the problem and the exact location of the asset.  An operator/inspector could receive that information on a dashboard on his/her computer, locate the asset and check its specifications, inspect it with a thermal camera to confirm the temperature data, interpret the data and determine the appropriate action to take.  Scheduling time to replace the asset when it will least affect operations results in significantly less cost due to unscheduled repairs and downtime.  In a more robust business process, the app could proactively identify routing for routine inspections and store thermal data for critical equipment over time and automatically identify equipment that may be about to fail.

Picture-responder

Today:

First responders such as firefighters, law enforcement officers, and emergency medical service (EMS) providers often work in dangerous environments in which lives are at risk – including their own.  Thermal cameras are used today by first responders in a variety of ways.  Firefighters use them to determine priority areas of a fire for firefighting efforts and to identify “hotspots” that may flare back up again after original containment of the fire.  They also use them in search and rescue efforts to be able to see through smoke to help find people trapped in buildings and also to find their way in and out of smoke-filled buildings. Law enforcement officers use them to see in the dark when working in potentially dangerous situation and to find objects dropped or hidden in the dark by suspects, and they use thermal-enabled smartphone apps to capture picture or video evidence that can be included in their incident reports.  EMS providers can use them in ways similar to firefighters and law enforcement officers as well.

Future scenario:

Information gathered from individual or networked sensors/cameras carried by first responders could be integrated into a desktop or mobile app used by the fire/police/EMS chief, who coordinates the efforts of the entire task force from a central command site. The chief could access the app from a mobile device like a ruggedized tablet, from a display in a fire truck/patrol car/EMS vehicle, or from a computer in a centralized location to get all relevant data about the incident instantly, in one place. The app could collect and analyze all data and then present suggestions on the most efficient actions to manage the incident, save people trapped in the building or environment, and ensure the safety of the first responder.  A fully-networked, widely deployed app could serve higher functions like enabling multiple chiefs to collaborate on related activities, enabling central command to see patterns on a wide scale that could help predict where teams may need to be deployed next, and facilitating collaboration between first responder teams including firefighters, emergency responders, and law enforcement.

Picture-home

Today:

Home do-it-yourself (DIY) work can save homeowners a lot of money through improved energy efficiency and cost savings by doing repairs themselves that don’t require a trained professional.  With handheld thermal cameras like the smartphone-based FLIR ONE it is easy for DIY homeowners to get thermal imaging and sensing information helpful in tasks like inspecting windows and doors for air leaks, finding faulty electrical installations, identifying problems in floor-heating, identifying missing or poor insulation, and locating moisture damages from leaking pipes. Currently handheld thermal cameras present an image or data that needs to be interpreted by the user who might not have enough knowledge for deciding on the correct action to take.  There are, however, several smartphone apps currently on the market that help with this process – including one that integrates simple AI (Comfort Tracker) and another that utilizes AR features (Heat 3D).

Future vision:

A robust mobile app that integrates AI, AR, and ML features could guide a homeowner step by step through a home audit, use AR features for enhanced diagnostic capabilities, use ML to identify potential problem areas and compare them to “known good” ones, use AI to present suggestions for actions (ie.“Cold air is leaking in through your window, you should add insulation.”), and use the mobile device’s other sensors to map out the structure, to suggest nearby places to find needed materials, and possibly even identify local contractors to perform work beyond the scope of the homeowner.  FLIR’s soon-to-be-released FLIR Mobile SDK will enable developers to create mobile apps that use thermal images and data captured from a wide variety of handheld thermal imaging devices.

Picture-utility

Today:

Improving the effectiveness and efficiency of energy infrastructure is very important on local, national, and global levels, and thermal cameras are used in the energy industry today in many ways. One example is using thermal cameras to find faulty solar panels or panels that are incorrectly installed, which decrease the effectiveness and efficiency of the solar installation. Currently an inspector walks around the solar panel park using a handheld thermal camera to inspect all panels looking for possible faults. The solar panel industry feeds energy into electrical industry infrastructure equipment, which also needs to be continuously monitored by an inspector for potential failures.  In these cases information is often collected and manually reported, and someone at the utility company reviews it and decides on actions needed.  Another example is using thermal imaging to inspect  power grid equipment to identify items that are failing or beginning to fail, and then replace them before they create unplanned power outages.

Future scenario:

In the solar panel example, a manual or automated drone with a built-in thermal camera can be used to inspect the solar panel park following a pre-registered rout and data about faulty or inefficient panels could automatically be sent from the drone to a desktop or mobile app. The app would collect all the data across multiple installations and use AI to determine potential causes for the problems and then recommend actions.  An inspector could use this information to efficiently inspect all the panels in question and be prepared to make all needed repairs at one time.  The utility company can aggregate this data over time to perform predictive maintenance and detect trends for long-term issues.  This example could also be applied to other areas of energy production, management, and delivery.

Challenge Participation Guidelines

  • This challenge is open to startup businesses that are legally registered companies (AB, Ltd or similar) based or operating in Sweden
  • No previous working knowledge of thermal imaging or FLIR products is required – we’ll host a kickoff webinar on 24th January to get you started
  • Challenge ideas/solutions should use one or more FLIR thermal imaging technologies or products to either create new solutions or build on existing ones, combining the participant’s creativity and expertise to offer new levels of ease of use, increased business benefits, etc.  FLIR’s technology and thermography products include mobile phone cameras, professional thermography cameras, test and measurement devices, and more
  • It may be helpful— but is not required— for participants to build their solutions using FLIR developer tools like the FLIR ONE SDK
  • Please see the full participation agreement prior to submitting your ideas for the challenge

All submitted ideas will be evaluated using the following criteria:

  • How effectively the idea/solution addresses issues related to one of the four identified scenarios using FLIR technologies or products to increase the value of the solution for the user
  • How technically feasible the solution would be to create and produce
  • How unique the idea/solution is and how it helps promote the usage of FLIR technologies or products
  • How much short and long term revenue potential the idea represents and how feasible the proposed business model would be to implement
  • How much potential exists for the participant to scale the solution together with FLIR (ie. is the applicant prepared to grow with large scale rollout if required).

Legal and intellectual property (IP) considerations

  • Participants must own or have the legal right to use any intellectual property (IP) or protected technologies/solutions included in your solution.
  • Initial submissions for the Challenge should be submitted at a level of detail where participant does not reveal any company/team secret information or provide detailed descriptions on how your idea, invention, product or service works.
  • Intellectual property rights for the initial submission (concept, software, demo setups etc.) produced during this challenge are retained by each participating team; however teams that actually participate in the Challenge agree to grant FLIR a license to use such software, demo setups etc. as presented in the challenge, for the purposes and duration of the challenge.
  • By agreeing to participate in the Challenge, participant agrees to offer FLIR the first right of refusal to negotiate any further commercial collaboration regarding the further development and commercialization of their submitted solution.

Challenge timeline

FLIR and THINGS are really excited to engage the Swedish startup community and see what ideas you come up with for this Innovation Challenge!  All submissions will be treated as confidential unless/until the originator is ready for us to make information about it public.

If you have questions, contact Anna-Karin Lindblom or Cal Loo.

Good luck!