RoadWatch wins Canon Canada’s Through Your Lens Competition
For the past couple of months, my former teammate from the NASA Space Apps Challenge, @femion, and I have been working on RoadWatch, a project for the Canon: Through Your Lens competition. Along with six other finalists, we pitched to Canon Canada’s executives this past Friday at Communitech in Kitchener, Ontario.
And we won the first prize!
The problem we were solving: road damage. In 2014, according to the American Automobile Association, road damage, such as potholes, cracks and debris, cost motorists $6.4 Billion in vehicle repairs. Organizations responsible for maintenance, such as municipalities, struggle to identify damage locations until complaints or claims are filed. In addition, the longer potholes go unfixed, the more expensive it is to repair them.
In a nutshell, our idea/concept was as follows: RoadWatch is a solution that uses Canon network cameras, near-infrared lasers and GPS to detect potholes and other damage on roads. Data is gathered by mounting RoadWatch detector units on vehicles such as public transit buses. The data is made available to customers (organizations who manage and maintain roads) through RoadWatch’s online portal.
As part of our entry for the competition, we created a one-minute clip. Our idea evolved over time, but the main problem and solution remained intact.
As part of research for our pitch, we conducted a short survey about opinions regarding road damage. The raw results are available here. For our presentation, @femion also developed a small Raspberry Pi powered prototype that could detect simple cracks between two objects.
Participating in this competition was a great experience. It was my first encounter with a tech-centric pitch, and I definitely hope to participate in similar projects/hackathons/pitches in the months to come.
What does the future hold for RoadWatch? Honestly, we do not know. For us, it was a targeted-for-the-competition concept - we’re not sure if we will be able to take it beyond that by ourselves. If you (the reader) would like to talk/know more about RoadWatch, feel free to drop me a line on Twitter.
Thank you to @femion for being a great teammate, and to @d0b0 for training us for our pitch! Also, thanks to Communitech for organizing and hosting this event!
Update: Link to Communitech news article about the event