Eye Solutions: Situational awareness through a camera phone
Eye Solutions did not come up with its business idea around a conference table or at a seminar, but in Bosnia-Herzegovina recovering from the civil war in the late 1990s. While the founder of the company, Mattipekka Kronqvist, was in the country on a peacekeeping mission, he noted that there was plenty of scope for improvement in the command and communication systems.
”Even in those days in the 1990s, we thought that we were technologically advanced and that information society was our reality, but in actual fact, it was all rather primitive. The troops reported from the field using an audio connection, based on which pieces on the command centre wall were moved, and communications between the various units of the operative level were difficult. Reporting was another problem: situational awareness and movements were not recorded in any way, and thus reporting on an operation at a later date depended on recollections”, Kronqvist reminisces.
Kronqvist thought that this problem could be partly solved if the troops were able to transmit real-time video which would allow the command centre to see what was happening.
Inspired by exponential growth in smartphones
Kronqvist kept mulling over the observations he made in Bosnia. In the early 2000s, he was aware of the exponential growth of smartphones, and his idea started taking shape - could ordinary mobile devices be also used in military and security sector communications?
”Traditionally, security and military applications had favoured purpose-designed special equipment, which is expensive but also has a long service life. The flip side of the coin is, however, that devices of this type are not necessarily very flexible when faced with changing user needs, and they may become obsolete overnight. The idea of Eye Solutions was to try and see if ordinary mobile devices also intended for civilian use could help solve the problem.”
Kronqvist sold his house to raise money for establishing a company and set to work. The basic idea of Eye Solutions is real-time and secure transmission of moving images – also across slower networks. For this purpose, the company has developed a technique making it possible to transmit images in synchronous data packages.
”From the customer perspective, in other words, we are a service operator. The customer selects their preferred hardware platform and network, after which we install the service connecting them.”
While the Eye Solutions service is specifically based on moving images, the technique is modular, and any information the phone collects in its surroundings can be attached to the image. Modern smartphones are full of sensors: satellite positioning, compass, gyroscope and so on.
”A veteran-owned company”
Selling products and services to actors in the defence and security sector has its special features. The sales cycles are long, and just getting an audience with potential customers takes a lot of work.
”For a small company like Eye Solutions, networking is the only way to operate. We approach our customers through partners and resellers”, Kronqvist explains.
Eye Solutions scored its first customer contacts in the United States, but potential customers can be found all over the world. Kronqvist says that being Finnish is mainly an advantage in the export efforts. Finland has a reputation as a neutral, high-technology country.
The fact that the company’s founder has experience of active service is also appreciated, especially in the United States. According to Kronqvist, Eye Solutions has been described as a ”veteran-owned company” in that country.