As our world is re-shaped by the global pandemic, the demand for creative and ethical business ventures is greater than ever. Indeed, the consequences of the virus have placed a spotlight on key gaps and inequalities in our world and in turn mobilized organizations to develop strategies to alleviate the current impact and safeguard our future. The Oxford Foundry, established in 2017 by the Saïd Business School (University of Oxford), has launched the COVID-19 action plan – an initiative which supports the rapid building, scaling and implementation of novel solutions. The Foundry has supported 13 companies to date, led by students, alumni and external experts, across four categories: healthcare, logistics and supply chain operations, social engagement and mobility, and education. The Oxford Scientist approached Archangel Imaging, a Foundry-supported venture developing automated fever detection and public safety systems, to find out more about their exciting approach to disease monitoring and prevention.
The back story of Archangel Imaging
Who are the founders?
Archangel Imaging was founded by Dan Sola (first founder), Jonathan Mist (CTO/late co-founder) and Trang Tran (COO/late co-founder). Dan has made substantial contributions to solar powered aircraft and other high tech projects for over 10 years, covering technical design and trade-offs, systems engineering, flight operations and team management. He also has a military background with various commands and tours of duty. Dan is a successful and socially responsible entrepreneur, having founded Archangel Aerospace in 2010, mentored start-ups and student teams at Singularity University in Silicon Valley and led technology development activities across most continents.
Jonathan Mist brings 20 years’ experience within embedded telecoms solutions, previously working for companies such as Nokia and Anritsu. At Anritsu, he was responsible for software/hardware solutions used to test cell phones before commercial sale. At Nokia, Jonathan pioneered an R&D team providing test and debug solutions that accelerated delivery of the 3G and 4G chipsets. He recently trained with fast.ai to upskill in machine/deep learning and at Cambridge Judge Business School to hone his entrepreneurship.
Trang Tran met Dan Sola whilst studying at Oxford University. After completing a Msc in Pharmacology (Lincoln College), she continued into biomedical science where she developed an interest in automation as a means of improving the efficiency and speed of academic research. After exploring this further by joining societies like Oxford Entrepreneurs, StudentConsultancy and Polygeia, Trang joined Dan Sola on the mission to make human and (smart) machine teaming easier and have been building and growing Archangel Imaging since.
How did it start?
Dan Sola founded the company to unlock the ability of long endurance robotics to do good in the world. He initially worked on high impact projects including earth observation, asteroid deflection and unmanned long-endurance solar aircraft whilst breaking several World Records along the way. The company’s current focus is combining fully autonomous, artificial intelligence (AI) camera systems with drone and robotic technologies. This approach has demonstrated utility in anti-poaching, metal theft prevention, public safety (including suicide and vandalism prevention), and defence and security.
As the company progressed it also became clear that many problems (such as oil theft and pipeline maintenance) are quite complex and require a management platform to integrate the latest robotics and AI tools into human workflows. That’s how Cerebella, a human-machine collaboration platform, was born, which connects virtual and physical world resources to produce human-machine hybrid teams in the hope of solving a number of large and stubborn real-world problems.
Archangel Imaging is now a team of 12, having been finalists and winners at several AI-for-good competitions. The company’s cameras, Argus X and Argus Pro, can be viewed here https://www.archangel.im/products.
Coronavirus and the Action Plan Initiative
What is Archangel Imaging’s coronavirus-related idea and how does it work?
Archangel Imaging are working on a versatile yet privacy-friendly detection system for fever and personal protective equipment compliance. These cameras consist of in-built AI, connectivity and power systems and are designed to work autonomously in order to achieve multiple functions at once. This includes high temperature detection, mask compliance and safe distancing at both venue entrances and in various indoor settings. In work contexts, staff can receive real-time alerts on their personal mobile/web app offering safety checks and guidance. The app also allows for automated actions to be set up, such as door access control (for offices, stations and airports). The camera systems have been integrated with the Cerebella human-machine hybrid platform meaning its functionality can be expanded to detect other anomalies and analytics can be generated easily. In the bigger picture, the technology has the potential for patterns of high temperature cases to be identified and provide early signals to alert prior to secondary waves of infection, as well as insights on how best to re-open shops and venues safely.
How did Archangel Imaging come up with the idea?
As it happens, Archangel Imaging were already working on making large-scale monitoring and response in remote areas easier (and privacy-friendly) using the Cerebella platform. It was hence a natural progression to apply this technology to the COVID-19 crisis in order to tackle another widespread and stubborn problem.
How did the Oxford Foundry assist or how is it involved?
The Oxford Foundry’s workshops, mentoring and introductions, talented mentors and advisors have helped Archangel Imaging to shape their strategy and become a high-growth, high-impact startup faster. Trang Tran states (quote); ‘’The community aspect is fantastic as well. With the COVID-19 lockdown taking effect, the Foundry and the ventures rapidly put together various support resources. They have also helped ventures tackling COVID-19 to develop and scale up their solutions quickly, connecting us with potential partners, customers and relevant experts’’.
Any tips for others who want to get involved in start-ups?
During our interview, Trang Tran shared (quote); ‘’Having built startups from the ground up, I recommend using these two resources as strong foundations for your strategy and day-to-day execution. (1) Disciplined Entrepreneurship by Bill Aulet and (2) the Google Primer’s app. These resources are suitable for founders, anyone in a team lead position and those joining startups from early days (and so integral to their team’s success)’’.
Archangel Imaging are always looking for talented and ambitious people and encourage expressions of interest via their website https://www.archangel.im/.
Click here to read OxSci profile another Foundry start-up – the Crowdless App.
For more information about Archangel imaging: https://www.archangel.im/
For more information about The Oxford Foundry: https://www.oxfordfoundry.ox.ac.uk/