Cornish company's facial recognition tech can reopen key sectors

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A Cornwall-based innovator in facial recognition technology has secured a £50,000 Covid-19 FastTrack grant from Innovate UK with help from Enterprise Europe Network to diversify into the construction industry.


TouchByte is using the funding to adapt its technology in response to an issue affecting a number of sectors during the pandemic, providing contactless entry for workers.


It is looking first at the construction industry, taking it into a key sector where it had not previously done business.


It was clear from an early stage that sign-in systems such as fingerprints, keycodes and smart cards would now be fraught with safety concerns over virus transmission.


Covid-19 FastTrack programme


TouchByte realised that construction workers were among those who could access sites through facial recognition alone and set about designing a prototype.


Funding was critical to the project so the company asked EEN adviser Layla Burrows to help them apply to Innovate UK’s Covid FastTrack programme. It was set up as a competition for R&D-intensive businesses to address the challenges arising from Covid-19.


Layla provided initial advice on eligibility and project scope as well as critiquing their grant application.


With funding in place from early May, TouchByte has been able to roll out prototypes and work with partners such as Inndex, a construction technology company providing back-end workforce management.


Once deployed, with workers’ faces detected and checked automatically, building site managers will be able to maintain high standards of security, while monitoring who is on site and which skill sets are available.


Technology transferable from construction


Jeremy Sneller, managing director of TouchByte, said: “The funding has meant that we can recruit additional people, so that by the end of this four-month period we’ll have a product that we can take to market.


“This technology is transferable and could benefit not just the construction market, but multiple sectors across the UK too.”


As consumer confidence in facial recognition technology continues to grow, hospitality has been highlighted as one such target sector.


Using TouchByte’s Facentry technology, hotels will be able to offer access to rooms, spas and swimming pools, all without the use of a potentially contaminated key. Guest preferences and requirements can also be stored.


TouchByte has set its sights on industries most badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic and, with this new funding, will provide them with the tools they need to adapt to the ‘new normal’.


EEN will continue to support TouchByte throughout its period of growth, offering strategic advice on how to maximise its potential in both UK and European markets.