Startups step in as India unlocks amid rising cases –

Illustration: Rahul Awasthi
Illustration: Rahul Awasthi

As Unlock 1.0 plays out across the country, tech-based solutions to handle crowding at malls, offices and markets as well as for contactless shopping and parking have gained ground, with a string of startups like Staqu, Park+ and Magneto CleanTech launching services in these segments.

Staqu, an Artificial Intelligence-based security focused startup that earlier catered to the e-commerce industry, is now using its video analytics platform Jarvis to let organizations check if government directives are being followed, based on CCTV-based analytics in real time.
“Through the analytics from the cameras, Jarvis will send real-time alerts to check how many people are entering a lift, wearing masks, maintaining social distance and hygiene,” said Atul Rai, co-founder of Staqu, which is also part of the Covid-19 Response Committee formed by government planner NITI Aayog.

Staqu’s offerings, under the umbrella of video analytics, include Covid-19 identification, tracing of suspected infected individuals, monitoring of personal protective equipment (PPE), security, safety, hygiene and analytics.
Its platform, which uses a combination of thermal sensing and face recognition technologies, allows corporates or malls to identify people, including employees, who may show signs of illness and get real-time alerts on their health condition. The data is, however, anonymised and privacy is not compromised, said Rai.

Illustration: Rahul Awasthi
Illustration: Rahul Awasthi

Staqu has tied-up with 15 partners, including Microsoft, in metros and in small cities like Jaipur and Udaipur. “Through them, we are reaching out to corporates, malls, and the retail industry,” Rai said.

Restaurant table reservation service, DineOut, has already incorporated the platform across 200 restaurants, including chains like Keventers.

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“In any dining experience, the kitchen is the black-box. Through Staqu, we will screen the live feed of the kitchens to our customers to build confidence among them to dine out,” said Ankit Mehrotra, CEO of Dineout, which is owned by Times Internet, part of the Times Group that also publishes this paper.

On the other hand, Gurugram-based startup Park+ has tied up with malls to enable them to control the entry of customers at any given point in time through what is known as a mall ‘pass’ on their phones after checking their temperatures.

It works like this: when a customer enters a mall, she is asked to scan a QR code which is verified through a one-time password, allowing the mall to track her. Through the online tracking, Park+ also provides directions to customers to cut short on time spent inside and also allows users to pay digitally, curbing the use of cards.

“We have tied up with malls in Delhi, Mumbai, Bhopal and Coimbatore so far and are still in talks with a few more in the metros. We are trying to remove the hardware costs for these malls,” said Amit Lakhotia, co-founder of Park+, which is backed by Sequoia India and Matrix Partners India.

The company also provides contactless parking.

Magneto CleanTech, another startup that claims to purify air, has seen a surge in demand since the lockdown. The company’s filter-less magnetic technology, which can be integrated with any air conditioning system, caters to workplaces, commercial buildings and institutions.

Magneto is now looking at the mobility sector, and is in the process of customising the solution for the Railways and will look at buses and metros in the near future.

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The company already provides its services to firms like Nokia, Taj group of hotels, Uber, Apple, Jindal Group, IFFCO and Godrej Pro.

“Clean air today is not expenditure but a sustainability factor, especially after the pandemic. As we see strong increasing demand, we plan to do at least 5-10 times the business this year,” said Himanshu Agarwal, the company’s founder.


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