Safe & Secure: Cleaning Compliance Driven by Vision Intelligence

Published on
October 21, 2020
Rachel Melisa
Marketing & Brand Manager
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This is a recap of a webinar that took place on the 8th of October 2020. For more information on upcoming events, please sign up to our newsletter or follow us on LinkedIn.

The impact of COVID-19 has created many new challenges, and for many of us, has required that we pivot the ways in which we work and interact in public spaces.

Join us in conversation with meldCX's EVP of SaaS, Thor Turrecha, where you will learn the ways you can leverage IoT and Vision AI for proactive monitoring and cleaning of public spaces.



meldCX: Now to introduce our second speaker today, his name is Thor Turrecha and he is the EVP of Global SaaS at meldCX. Hi Thor, how are you today?

Thor Turrecha: I’m good, thank you. How are you doing?

mCX: I'm doing good as well. Thank you Thor. It's certainly exciting to have you here with us today. Before we start, can you briefly introduce yourself to us, please? You know, your background passions, what you're working on right now...

TT: Hi, everybody, my name is Thor, I've been with meldCX for over a year now, I've worked in the tech industry for more than 15 years and me and my team are focused on specializing AI, IoT and data storytelling. I understand that what we do is often not relatable. So I balance it out by using UX to humanize what we do when we're solving business problems.

mCX: Thor, you're quite a seasoned professional in the tech world with 15 years on your belt. How do you use your experience and expertise to leverage the needs that come up recently, especially surrounding the pandemic?

TT: Whilst I have a fairly good understanding of the tech industry now. Nothing has prepared me for what the pandemic has brought to us all of a sudden. It has brought a lot of uncertainty. All of a sudden, the world is unfamiliar.

Everybody is now obsessed with cleanliness. You know, they prefer contactless technologies because they don't like to touch anything they don't own. People avoid person-to-person contact now. Even brands have to redefine commitment to health and safety. There's this constant negotiation between perception and reality. Just doing something is not enough.

You have to show it, communicate it back to your customers in a visual way. Doing the right thing is not enough anymore. You have to communicate it in a way that is effective. You have to cover all channels that your customers prefer, social media, YouTube, LinkedIn, and even making it as a hero message on your website. Your brand has to insure and emphasize that you're doing everything you can to keep your staff and customers safe.

mCX: So, Thor, you mentioned that the world has become uncertain and unfamiliar. Which, of course, affects customer behavior in which a lot of people would prefer contactless technologies and avoid person to person touches. Do you mind just expanding on that a little bit in your experience? What are some ways you think technology can play a role in supporting businesses as cities and public spaces gradually open up again?

TT: Technology has been a significant help during this period. Adoption has been through the roof. I've seen reports that tech adoption was up to 300 percent in the last three months. I've seen it help businesses in operations, sales, marketing, almost in every aspect of it for us. We focus on providing businesses with the right tools to ensure their offices and stores are clean and safe. For the sake of their staff and customers.

mCX: Can you tell us more about that or what are some tools or should I say solutions that you and your team are working on at the moment?

TT: One of our strengths as a business is the use of computer vision. We've been training machines to see like humans for a while now and there's a lot you can do with it. When COVID-19 started affecting businesses, we ran a series of brainstorming exercises with our team and customers. We focus on talking about problems brought by COVID and figured out what problems we can solve using our capabilities. Our discussions always lead us to how can we help businesses reopen safely and bounce back? We started going back to the need that businesses have to show a concrete response, something that demonstrates compliance clearly and quickly.

mCX: Thor can I ask quickly, because I do feel like in this current climate, especially with multiple cities being on lockdown, businesses already have a lot to worry about. And then on top of that, you have compliance. So can I just ask you, why is it important for a business especially to be compliant in this current climate?

TT: Compliance is important because it's something people trust. It makes them feel safe, secure and confident. So linking it to our capability on computer vision, it became clear that the solution is to visualize compliance.

So how can you make sure that you're cleaning where it matters? So we started working on a solution using existing CCTV cameras. We started exploring how we can track people to surface interaction, to understand how often they should be cleaned and know whether they have been cleaned up properly, how cleaners can have a more dynamic itinerary on the best time to clean a table based on its use. On top of that, managers can control crowding and office hallways, elevators and meeting rooms. We are essentially teaching new and old cameras new tricks. It helps us ensure our offices are clean and safe. This is what Viana is all about.

mCX: Can you tell us more about Viana?

TT: Viana is our computer vision flagship product, it stands for Vision Analytics. We tried to give it a human name so that it is relatable. It's designed to see how people work, shop, learn, play in physical spaces. Amongst other things, it enables our customers to track their physical stores like a website. Specifically for COVID-19, Viana is exactly the solution I've described earlier. Now we've added a feature nicknamed SAMi or Surface Awareness Management Intelligence. I know it's a mouthful. It tracks surface areas where people interact every day.

mCX: So just to reiterate what you said, we have Viana, which is the vision analytics products with a new feature, SAMi, can you tell us more about SAMi and what it does?

TT: Now, SAMi has two versions: for environments and devices, which I'll talk about next, if you're a bank, you can think of SAMi for Devices or SAMiD for touch screens like ATMs, then SAMi for Environments or SAMiE will be for your offices and stores.

mCX: So let's start with SAMi for Devices or SAMiD. Obviously, in pre-COVID times, touch screens are a big part of our daily lives, such as when using the ATM, as you mentioned before, or other use cases like self-service checkouts and buying public transportation tickets. So now in these post-pandemic times, how can SAMiD assist in cleaning compliance with touch screens? Can you tell us more about that Thor?

TT: SAMi for Devices is a device app that tracks interactions on touch screens. It runs in the background, so it's unobtrusive but always active. Then it locks up the screen once the maximum number of touches is reached. The device is unusable until the screen is cleaned up.

mCX: Can you show us how SAMiD does that?

TT: This is a quick test video for how SAMiD tracks touch interactions here.

(Skip to minute 08:31 for the video)

We're testing how it reacts to a specific type of cleaning cloth. The disappearing dots shows that the device is ready to go back to clean mode.

mCX: That's really interesting. Can you tell us more about how it works?

TT: How SAMiD works is very simple. When a number of touches are reached, the app locks up the screen. You will notify the designated leader and then once the kiosk is cleaned, it goes back to its standard operating environment and starts servicing customers again.

mCX: OK, that's pretty straightforward. What SAMiD does, so SAMiD is a lightweight app that tracks human to touch screen interactions, making it shown during the cleaning process. But, Thor, what about interactions with other objects? How can that be tracked as well?

TT: Now, SAMi for Environments is the version that tracks human to surface interactions. We are tracking the left and the right hands, the body and its proximity to surfaces like tables and chairs. We visualize it on a heat map so it becomes actionable for cleaners. It's like a reverse selfie, really for cleaners where Viana overlays the visual representation of surfaces to be cleaned.

mCX: Reverse selfie for cleaners! I like that. But quick question Thor, does SAMi for Environments track faces as well?

TT: We don’t use facial recognition. SAMi removes any human form to ensure there is no personal identifiable data that is captured. We are very serious about protecting our customers’ data.

mCX: That is very good to know Thor -- the fact tha SAMi for Environments adhere to privacy compliance as well.

TT: I want to show you a short video, about a minute long, I think. It can probably explain SAMi for Environments better than me.

(Skip to minute 10:42 for the video)

mCX: Thanks for that, Thor. Can I just come back to you, as the person who built the solution, you and your team, how does SamiE captures these human to surface interactions?

TT: It will be through cameras -- either old or new. It could be USB-based or your existing CCTV. Now, SAMiE actively tracks surfaces for human interactions. It focuses on regions that carry high risk for transmission of microbes and viruses. Once a threshold is reached, it becomes an incident. Now cleaners can automatically get notified that it's time to clean and are dispatched to the right locations.

mCX: Look, Thor, you mentioned visualization earlier. Yes, we're measuring data. Yes, the cameras capture, but as humans, what do we see? I guess my question is, how do we see what the camera sees so we can make better decisions?

TT: That's a good point. SAMi can be accessed through Viana Portal. There you will see all incidents that the cameras have captured. We made the experience relatable and familiar. So just like when you're browsing your favorite social media site; on the dashboard, you will see the hero images, recent activity feeds, KPIs and other related incidents. It's really important for monitoring scenes that need to be cleaned. So in summary, the dashboard is designed to help customers respond quickly and consistently.

mCX: Thor, you also mentioned that cleaners would be notified. Do they have access to this dashboard? How does that work exactly?

TT: Yes, there is a web app for cleaners on the go, which shows them all incidents that they need to respond to so it can be accessed through a link on the SMS or they can save it like a native app. It also allows them to confirm once the cleanup has been done. Now, there's a lot of data that needs to be stitched together so that it could produce a digital manifest. You know, this is all the incidents and activities related to cleaning.

mCX: So I just want to double check with you, Thor, would each cleaner have their own log in on the web app and only the master user can monitor all activity via the dashboard?

TT: That is correct.

mCX: Would SAMiD  touch screen surface touches be visible as well in the Viana dashboard?

TT: Yes, for customers, that would purchase both.

mCX: Thor, I know you are doing a lot of discussions with customers already about this exciting new product. Can you just tell me, based on those initial conversations, what are the sort of trending applications where this could work for them?

TT: The list is long, but SAMi is a solution specifically designed to help businesses reopen after lockdown.

Of course, no businesses are the same. So SAMi's benefits are different based on industries. The general theme is that there's a great need for well sanitized self-service touch points for businesses that have reception areas, cafeterias, boardrooms, showrooms, store and branches. These are spaces that have high traffic areas that are shared by both staff and customers. We are also seeing customers talking about it as a hero message for their campaigns -- to inspire customers to re-engage.

For casinos and the entertainment industry, one of SAMi's benefits is to be efficient. You know how often they have to clean certain high traffic areas? They're overdoing it right now because they're blind. It's important to them to ensure that their cleaning contractors are in compliance with their contracts.

Now, on the other hand, banks are planning to use it to establish a rhythm on how often they send cleaners to their smart ATMs. They want to understand if there are homeless people sleeping near to ATMs or inside where the ATMs are installed. Believe it or not, some drunk people's preference for urinating is within the proximity of smart ATMs.

For QSRs, they want us to track their customers interaction with tables in shared environments like play areas. Having SAMi automatically notifies them, when's the best time to clean tables and chairs and therefore having improved staff utilization whilst ensuring they offer a clean and safe environment for the customers.

There are always more use cases that are popping up on how to utilize SAMi to ensure brands can provide a clean and safe environment for the staff and customers.

mCX: So Thor, let's move away from COVID for a bit, because I know we've talked a lot about that. How do you see SAMiE, SAMiD, and Viana overall play out in day to day lives beyond the pandemic?

TT: We get that question a lot, customers want to spend wisely and ensure that their investment continues to produce value beyond COVID related use cases. After COVID-19, Viana can extend its use cases to tracking products and goods inside a store. Theft detection is important for retailers, and it's one of our current priorities.

Today, Viana aims to be the tool that allows our customers to track their physical science like a website. Shelf Engagement Insights is an extension of SAMi technology, where a heatmaps will show you which products have high interactions. It can even show you meeting rooms or boardroom utilizations to identify team members booking a room good for 25 with only four attendees.

In summary, Viana is not limited only to COVID-19 use cases. There will be plenty of different use cases that will help our customers into the new normal.

Our commitment is that we will continue to train Viana to see the world like we see it. New use cases will be available every quarter, if not monthly.

mCX: It sounds great, Thor. I can't wait to see what's next for you and your team. Computer vision is certainly the future and the COVID-19 pandemic just accelerates its adoption so far.

So Thor, can you give us some next steps? How do we find out more about the solution and where can we purchase it?

TT: We're really excited to see SAMi help businesses reopen in a clean and safe way. At the moment, you could reach out to our sales team and authorized resellers to book a demo.

We have partnered with Google, Microsoft, Intel and Ingram Micro so you can find us on their websites too. You can also DM me at LinkedIn if you want to have an ideation session with me.

mCX: So there you have it, guys. Thor's DM is open. if you want to slide in and ask your questions, simply scan the QR code shown on this slide. And there you have him!

Thor, thank you so much for your time today, really appreciate you sharing with us your knowledge and I'm sure the audience as well.

TT: Thank you, Rach! To our audience, I hope this session has been informative. I want to conclude this session by saying I'm a firm believer in the law of constraints.

I really like when Einstein said that difficulty produces opportunities. I believe SAMi a great example. It's a direct result of a global challenge. I'm looking forward to seeing it empower our partners and customers so that we can face the future safely and more confidently. Thank you.

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