Catching poachers in Africa, smugglers in Saudi Arabia and riot instigators during soccer games, all because of the 360 degrees camera technology made by Horus View and Explore. During Venturelab North’s Ventureclass last Thursday, founder René Bolhuis shared his global success story.
Horus, named after the ‘all seeing eye’ in Egyptian mythology, combines video and sensor technology, Geographical Information Systems, Deep Learning, Virtual Reality and Live Data Streaming to get the most detailed view possible. Founded by René Bolhuis, Horus’ hardware and software is not only used to make the world a safer place, but also used in the entertainment industry and to help train professional athletes.
Mapping for disaster scenarios
“Before starting my own company, I worked as a firefighter,” Bolhuis says. “I used to plan for disaster scenarios, which involved a lot of mapping, which was very time consuming to do manually. But with a 360 degree camera and basic GPS, I could create a detailed map in a matter of minutes.”
After buying his first camera, Bolhuis started Horus in 2011 and things took off fast. Horus was in the top 100 most innovative SMEs of the Netherlands in 2013, 2014 and 2017 and currently employs 30 people, to develop very impressive sensor software and hardware for people around the world.
“We decided to focus on the high end market and our software and hardware is used for mobile mapping, safety and security, and entertainment,” Bolhuis explains. “We developed a camera for trains for example, which can be easily mounted on the front to check and track the condition of the rails. Normally, this had to be done at night by a special train, so you can imagine, this saves an incredible amount of time.”
From catching poachers to tracking and shooting down drones
Bolhuis casually mentions his mounted cameras are used for self driving vehicles, for the 5G test project in the province, but also in Silicon Valley. Horus’ sensor systems and cameras can be combined all kinds of software, like facial recognition and motion and heat sensors, which is why the company also works with police and armed forces.
“We also developed a mounted system to help catch poachers in South Africa, with added heat signature sensors to spot them when they’re hiding on dense bushes”, Bolhuis says. “It’s really high end technology, so the biggest challenge is to make it as easy to use as possible, because the people trying to catch poachers have no formal training in sensor technology, and sometimes very little education whatsoever. The trick is to really simplify the technology, so that pretty much anyone can use it in the most difficult environments.”
Horus has a very practical approach when it comes to their tech. “It’s all about how you apply it. We can make it as basic or as elaborate as you need it to be. We’re also working with police and created something you can use for basic surveillance, all the way up to tracking and shooting down drones with a microwave gun and calculating bullet trajectories.”
Horus also works in the entertainment industry and Bolhuis show a slide of impressive companies he has worked with, including the likes of Disney and Nike. “We were asked by a big hotel chain to create 360 videos. So that meant traveling to all these exotic locations around the world. It’s a great experience, but we don’t really do these projects anymore, simply because we’re not a production company and it isn’t scalable. We’re more interested in creating hardware and software, like a mobile studio or a portable VR rig you can use for 8K streaming and recording.”
Something Horus is currently working on, is VRiend, a very easy to use 360 degrees camera with microphone that looks like a toy. “We’re using it for kids in hospitals, to set up realtime VR communication with their parents. The kid wears VR goggles and the camera uses wifi to set up a safe connection. This way, children don’t have to feel alone or miss birthdays or even classes.”
With all of the different things Horus is working on, does the company have any competition? “We don’t really believe in competition,” Bolhuis explains. “If someone is better that us at doing one particular thing, we’ll work with them, simple as that.”