I like how the business world can be so varied. There are those companies that are continually in the forefront of our lives, giving us light bulbs, computers, food. And there are those companies whose services are in the background, maybe helping make our lives a little better or safer. ZiuZ is one of the latter types. You might not know its products and how they affect us, but they really can make a difference. And now they’ve been giving the chance to show off. They’ve been put in the limelight as nominee for the 2014 Frisian Enterprise of the Year Award. I’m personally really chuffed for them – they just happen to be one of my favourite clients.
It really is a very Frisian company, so in that respect it fits the first aspect of the award perfectly. Head Office is in Gorredijk, the employees go through traditional sugar bread and rye bread like there’s no tomorrow, and as far as I can tell, internal and external communication is done in one of five languages Frisian, English, Dutch, German or French (in order of importance). Oh yes, and it sponsors a long track speed skating team – that’s a pretty Frisian sport, isn’t it?
ZiuZ checks prescriptions
So why Enterprise of the year? What exactly does ZiuZ do that helps make our lives safer? Well, it develops software based on visual intelligence. Er, ok. Still none the wiser? Well, it make software that looks at something and recognizes it. It uses all kinds of clever algorithms (that’s mathematics) to identify certain characteristics, then it compares that information to what it already knew (let’s say, reference data), and draws a conclusion. So for instance, the ZiuZ Medical division has come up with a really clever machine with a couple of cameras, very specific lighting, and incredibly complicated algorithms, to identify the medication in dosage bags – and compare the contents to what the doctor prescribed. Dosage bags are those little packages you see in care homes or hospitals that contain all the medication a patient needs at a particular time of the day. For instance, someone might be given a dosage bag with two painkillers, an anti-inflammatory drug and a blood pressure tablet to be taken before breakfast, and then later in the day a dosage bag with just two painkillers. When something is pre-packaged like this (and often on a fairly large scale production line), you need to make sure they’re getting the right medicine. Just imagine what could happen if someone got the wrong stuff? So that’s what the ZiuZ Photon machine does – it checks the patient is getting the right medication. And if it sees something that doesn’t match, it pulls it out. It can save a life.
ZiuZ finds criminal evidence
And there’s more! ZiuZ Forensics, the oldest division in the company, helps the police in their search for evidence. Again, it’s software that sees something, applies an algorithm to identify it, and then lists what it’s found. All the Dutch police forces use the software to go through the millions of photos and hundreds of hours of video material in pedophile cases. The software not only helps the investigators find evidence of the crime, it also helps them find the victims. And the victims are children. Children that have been abducted, children sold through human trafficking, children living in desolation, and children leading a seemingly normal life. They can be anywhere – ZiuZ software helps find them. And it works quickly. Because it builds up a database of knowledge, it can recognize a photo without the investigator needing to see it. It saves time and emotional distress.
ZiuZ finds what you need to see
And now for ZiuZ Surveillance. You’ve probably been in the situation where someone’s been showing you their holiday photos. Thirty years ago, it wasn’t so bad. You’d flick through an album with maybe 1, 2 or 3 rolls of film at the most. But nowadays, with digital cameras, a one-week holiday produces hundreds of photos and, oh my, how many videos? At some point, you get distracted or fatigue sets in, and you actually end up missing the all-time classic shot. Now imagine you’re a detective wanting to follow a suspect’s moves. You set up a camera at the suspect’s location and get filming. But how long do you have to film for? Hours? Days? Weeks? And if you just leave the camera rolling, when are you supposed to watch the footage? And what if you miss that classic shot? This is where ZiuZ Surveillance comes in. The detective loads up the surveillance film, specifies what he’s looking for and the software goes through the footage. Every time it sees something it thinks matches what the detective specified, it makes a note of it. And when it’s done, it gives the detective a summary. Hundreds of hours of footage get reduced down to minutes – without a single shot being missed. It saves the detective time, saves the taxpayer money. And gets the evidence for use in court.
All in all, three rather brilliant divisions. And each one helps us and our society. I think ZiuZ really deserves to be put in the limelight. Recognition as 2014 Frisian Enterprise of the Year is a pretty good way of saying “Nice one, ZiuZ! Thanks.” You can help them win, by voting here goo.gl/AH2dHU.