SETsquared Surrey location tracking company Direk has been awarded funding from Innovate UK to develop its Smart Indoor Management System (SIMS) for monitoring social distancing at work in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Direk develops software-based solutions for location tracking with high accuracy in sites where previous solutions could not typically capture data such as indoor locations, areas where GPS is not available or built environments with degraded location accuracy. The company was established as part of a PhD research project at the University of Surrey.
Direk secured funding to develop its smart system which analyses how occupants use and move around a building. By using sensors within office buildings from wireless and mobile data signals, the company has developed an indoor radar system that can track how many people are in any given space, their proximity to each other and what activity they are carrying out.
The information from the sensors is captured in real-time and deep learning-based algorithms turn it into meaningful data. Unlike alternative technology such as cameras, the data does not identify individuals so Direk maintains privacy and provides full coverage without blind spots. Company owners or building management teams can make informed decisions to enable staff to socially distance when they return to the office and adjust utilities such as ventilation, heating or lighting according to staff numbers.
Alongside the capabilities SIMS offers for reducing the spread of COVID-10, the solution has the potential to save building management companies as much as 21kg per 30m² room in their carbon footprint annually.
“Most ventilation and heating systems in large office buildings are designed based on the maximum amount of people the building can hold, and without insight into how many people are using the space or how they’re using it. There’s a lot of potential inefficiency which can be avoided,” said Amir Taba, co-founder of Direk. “We’re now working in offices as well as large scale locations such as stadiums and shopping centres to realise the potential of SIMS, and help people return to these spaces safely.”
This is Direk’s fourth round of funding awarded by Innovate UK. The company has been a member of SETsquared Surrey since 2017 after a friend recommended the incubator to Amir when he was a senior fellow at the University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre.
“The support at SETsquared Surrey has been fantastic,” said Amir. “My mentor is great at challenging my ideas to strengthen them and has a lot of experience in our sector, his market knowledge is invaluable. He has connected us to many fellow SETsquared Surrey members that work in a similar area to us, which has enabled us to grow our business and learn more about other solutions available.”