A laser beam refracts around a platform.

Lasers are Shining a Light on Global Remote Threats

Far removed from invisible security systems in banks or museums, lasers could help governments and businesses spot potential danger in the atmosphere, earth, and oceans.

These laser systems depend on photons, also known as particles of light. By generating, detecting, and manipulating light, a variety of applications arise: from barcode scanners to LASIK surgery to fiber-optic communications and much more. Photonics is practically ubiquitous in today’s tech-heavy societies.

But, one startup in India is targeting a broader set of use cases for lasers. The company, Castle Advanced Technologies and Systems (or CATS), is developing a global network of connected sensors to remotely monitor geo-spatial threats. Their system, which generates thousands of data points each second, feeds into a larger data ecosystem used for image processing and big data analytics. Already, CATS is testing their product with the Government of India and private organizations across the country.

To find out just how these lasers are being used for remote monitoring, we spoke with Biren Shah, who serves as Founder and Director at Castle Advanced Technologies and Systems. (Responses have been lightly edited for clarity.)

Interview with Biren Shah, Founder and Director at Castle Advanced Technologies and Systems

1. Can you give us a little background on CATS?

BIREN: Simply put, we create laser-based monitoring systems. To get into more detail, we introduce a single photonic system with an appropriate source of lasers to monitor a variety of situations: on land, at sea, and in the skies. In fact, using lasers has been a new approach in remote monitoring and networking of spatially separated sensors for comprehensive geo-spatial monitoring.

We estimate that our photonic system collects nearly 10,000 data points per second. This data is seamlessly integrated, distinguished and stored on the CATS big data ecosystem. Doing so should assist in making geospatial, predictive, prescriptive and descriptive analytics on a continual and long term basis. Think of it like the human nervous system, connected by a network of neurons. Our laser sensors, proprietary image processing software, and big data analytics are interconnected and work in unison.

This opens up our technology to be used in a wide variety of applications. Of particular interest are use cases in monitoring, inferring, diagnosing, creating patterns and predicting events, such as:

  • AGRITECH: Agricultural and Smart Irrigation Mapping
  • ANALYSIS: Structural Analysis of Buildings and Machines
  • ATMOSPHERE: Air Pollution, Adverse Weather, Tsunami Warnings
  • DISASTERS: Search and Rescue Operations
  • NATIONAL DEFENSE: Land or Sea-Based Enemy Intrusion
  • RAILROADS: Identify and Alert Train Drivers of Potential Railway Obstructions
  • SURVEILLANCE: Tracking Speed and Position of Moving Objects

2. How is your team putting your business plan into action?

BIREN: Right now, CATS is in its validation phase. As you might imagine, our photonic sensing system will be used in highly regulated industries, including railways, roadways, shipping, and aviation. Currently, we are having our product validated by multiple organizations in the Government of India and private agencies in areas such as environmental affairs, homeland affairs, and child development. In addition, we are partnering with a handful of large organizations on strategic initiatives.

A sunset view of the New Delhi Parliament building in Delhi, India.

3. What were your biggest takeaways from the Data Innovation Bazaar and Bootcamp?

BIREN: Both the Data Innovation Bazaar and Bootcamp were very good academic exercises, especially for startups. My team focused on improving the key elements of our business plan and model, as well as bringing our company to market. The speakers, presenters, and session leaders were extraordinary. A big “thank you” to all these people involved for passing down their knowledge and being inspiring!

READ MORE: We are highlighting every startup from our inaugural Data Innovation Bootcamp. Here are their stories.

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4. Why do you believe that supporting entrepreneurship and innovation in India is important?

BIREN: In my eyes, Indian entrepreneurs have yet to leave a global mark in hardware-based startups. So far, our software engineers have been leading on the front end. Hardware engineers have yet to achieve the same level of success and innovation.

“However, initiatives that support research and development for hardware-driven startups within India can be disruptive.”

CATS is making great progress and are grateful that Western Digital assisted us in having our product shine under a global spotlight.

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