First AI Lifeguard System Deployed at Israeli Beach this Summer

June 25, 2020

First AI Lifeguard System Deployed at Israeli Beach this Summer

 

Sightbit is Funded by Cactus Capital, the Student Venture Capital Fund

at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

 

BEER-SHEVA, Israel…June 25, 2020 – A new artificial intelligence-based (AI) system, Sightbit, developed by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) alumni, helps lifeguards monitor thousands of swimmers and identify risky situations and other water hazards.

 

Sightbit aims to save lives and modernize ocean rescue practices worldwide. Using the Sightbit system, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority will make Palmachim National Park, with five miles of coastline, the first "smart beach."

 

Sightbit received investment from Cactus Capital, a student venture capital fund established by the 360 ​​Entrepreneurship Center at BGU to invest in student and alumni startups, as part of a student training and coaching program.

 

According to the World Health Organization, there are an estimated 320,000 annual drowning deaths worldwide. Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide, accounting for seven percent of all injury-related deaths. In the U.S. alone, there are more than 5,000 coastal beaches, 70,000 lakeside beaches, 12,000 marinas, 88,000 dams and reservoirs, and 300,000 public pools that can directly benefit from Sightbit’s technology.

 

The system uses standard cameras that cover a defined area and transmit real-time information on monitors in the lifeguard tower. It sounds alarms when swimmers are in danger. Instead of relying on binoculars, the cameras zoom in for an enhanced view.

 

The core system is based on deep-learning computer-vision technology with convolutional neural network architectures for object detection, which feature extraction and real-time predictive analytics. Click here to watch the video.

 

The system rates sections of a beach according to a risk assessment model with crowd management solutions and weather conditions, and offers estimates on how many lifeguards are needed on a given day to safely monitor swimmers. In addition to real-time alerts and water hazards, Sightbit analytics also enable lifeguards to anticipate risk and take preventative action before swimmers are ever in danger.

 

Sightbit also monitors certain at-risk populations such as child swimmers and can even be used to guard beaches where lifeguards are not present or off duty. The lifeguards can set the parameters of what warning alerts they see. Different options include dangerous currents, vessels (boats, jet skis, etc.) and riptides.

 

“Sightbit is, in essence, an AI lifeguard and superior to humans which aren’t optimized for tracking hundreds of swimmers with or without binoculars,” says BGU alum Netanel Eliav, Sightbit chief executive officer. “In the case of drowning, every second is critical. Our system acts as an additional lifeguard by flagging threats to swimmers and providing an earlier warning so they can act more quickly and save lives.”

 

“We are very proud of the Sightbit team and delighted in the decision of the student-run Cactus Capital to support a promising technology venture that could actually help save lives," says

Dana Gavish-Fridman, head of entrepreneurship at Ben-Gurion University. "The role of the Entrepreneurship Center 360 is to empower our students' entrepreneurial skills and provide them with the best applied tools to prepare them for the job market.”

 

According to Amir Chen, director of Coastal Space and Parks Authority: "Sightbit's innovative solution is in line with the Nature and Parks Authority's ambition to ensure as much as possible the safety of travelers and visitors to the national parks and reserves using advanced and innovative technologies, among other things at the beach.

 

The Sightbit team plans to expand internationally and has been invited to conduct additional pilots at beaches in the U.S. and Europe.

 

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU) plays a vital role in sustaining David Ben-Gurion's vision: creating a world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community and sharing the University's expertise locally and around the globe. Celebrating the 50th birthday of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), AABGU imagines a future that goes beyond the walls of academia. It is a future where BGU invents a new world and inspires a vision for a stronger Israel and its next generation of leaders. Together with supporters, AABGU will help the University foster excellence in teaching, research and outreach to the communities of the Negev for the next 50 years and beyond. AABGU, headquartered in Manhattan, has regional offices throughout the United States. For more information visit http://www.aabgu.org.

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