From idea to market in record time, amidst the Covid-19 crisis
As the Corona virus began crippling the world, the phones started ringing at Termisk systemteknik (Thermal System Technology). The company’s innovation – a dual-camera unit that scans and measures body temperature using artificial intelligence – suddenly became red hot. With the help of the Swedish Scaleups network, the company managed to take its innovation from prototype to marketable product in a few weeks.
During previous outbreaks of Ebola and avian flu (bird flu), Termisk systemteknik received enquiries whether they could develop an automated system for measuring human body temperature. The researchers who founded the company have a background at FOI (Swedish Defence Research Agency) and found the idea interesting. An automated system would offer a more accurate assessment of whether a person had an elevated body temperature or not.
“We began developing the system but when we were finished a few years later, the epidemic had passed, and the market was gone. When the Covid-19 pandemic struck, interest in our innovation skyrocketed,” says Stefan Sjökvist, CEO at Termisk Systemteknik.
Once the Corona virus began to spread, the window for launching the innovation on the market opened once more – but timing was now critical. Sjökvist and his colleagues were facing the challenge of getting the product to market before the pandemic was over.
The network of Swedish Scaleups was the solution
Swedish Scaleups had previously brought them in touch with serial entrepreneur Göran Felldin, who realized the vast potential of the product, now named Imafor.
“It is rare to encounter a product with the kind of growth potential that Imafor enjoys. It is a technology with a global demand right here and now. If we’re successful we’re able to do something good for all those who are currently worried about going back to work.”
Imafor HTPS 3.0 is a system that uses a camera unit, a temperature reference and analytics software to measure and scan body temperature. The software, developed by Termisk systemteknik, measures the temperature in the corner of the eye, which is the warmest spot on the human body.
The AI capability of the software aids detection and monitoring of faces, which enables a thorough scan of the person coming through. The camera can be mounted at an entrance or an interlocking access door at a factory, for example, and is able to scan several persons simultaneously.
“The idea behind Imafor is to make people feel safe at work. Once the worst crisis has passed it will still be comforting to know that everyone at work has had their body temperature scanned – and that’s what our thermal camera can offer,” says Sjökvist.
From innovation to finished product
Sjövkvist and his colleagues at Termisk systemteknik are scientists and experts in the technical field. Taking the product to market, however, required broad expertise in marketing, pricing, strategy and organization. This is where Felldin and his colleagues at Bizfokus – Mikael Agerås, Victor Negrete and Ulf Stern – came into the picture, bringing extensive experience of business development, and the starting and running of companies in Sweden and across the world.
“The process normally takes much longer but we have worked hard to make it happen in as short a time as possible. The key to success has been a close cooperation between innovation, product development and company building. Our contribution has been to rapidly define the market position and the value offering, while drawing up a well-defined plan for marketing communication and sales. Seeing so much happening in such a short time is simply awesome,” says Stern.
Besides Bizfokus, product development agency Prodelox – also based in Linköping Science Park – has been a part of developing Imafor. Well acquainted with agile work processes, the agency constructed and designed the cover for the camera in record time.
“Finding the right visual identity that lets the product communicate safety and security, while at the same time coming up with a construction that cuts lead times during prototyping have been the two biggest challenges of the project. It has required extremely rapid decision making and a close dialogue between our developers and Imafor,” says Anette Therén, marketing manager at Prodelox.
The currently introduced Imafore thermal camera, Imafor HTPS 3.0 (High Precision Temperature Screening), will hopefully make a huge difference to many people throughout the world for a long time to come.
“Even if the Corona virus disappears, the market for the product will still be there. The idea is to use Imafor in companies and workplaces with lots of people, to create a safe environment for the employees. Making that happen feels very exciting,” says Agerås.
The companies that have taken Imafor to the market
Focuses on developing products that use thermal cameras and IR technology to contribute to society in areas such as fire prevention. A number of employees have a background as researchers within Infrared Technology (IR) at the Swedish Defence Research Agency. The company is headed by CEO Stefan Sjökvist.
Consultants in organization and management working with business development of companies. The team consists of Göran Felldin, Ulf Stern, Mikael Agerås and Victor Negrete, jointly offering extensive experience in business development and the starting and running of companies in Sweden and internationally. IT companies Intentia and IFS are two examples.
Product development agency run by Robert Armerö, CEO. The company helps clients with innovative idea generation, visualizations, industrial design, mechanics development, technical calculations, power and software development, prototyping and production design.