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Dutch eye for detail (interview)

You cannot miss the security cameras of Ampleye. The Dutch start-up is rapidly gaining ground, and is already providing cameras to companies all over the world. Leon van de Laar is the CEO of Ampleye, which is part of Prodrive Technologies. In this interview Leon talks about the unparalleled Ampleye camera that his company has developed and manufactured.

A conceivable case for Ampleye might be the ‘AFC Ajax supporters’ home’, which recently went up in flames. Camera footage would be of great help in the identification of those responsible. The more detail the footage has, the better the evidence will be. In the past year, Ampleye has proven that evidence is what they deliver. In a one-year trial phase, sixteen cases already have been solved successfully.

Leon, how did you achieve this?
“Thirty traditional cameras are spread over the Science Park of the TU Eindhoven. We installed our camera on one location. Together with the security organization of the Science Park, we started counting every event, like a burglary, vandalism, hit-and-run etc.

Did one of the thirty cameras solve the case?
“If yes, we would not look any further. If not, we would see if our cameras could solve it. This was often the case. The earnings of the camera in the trial period were seven times its own value.”

How would you describe Ampleye in a tweet?
“Ampleye produces and sells high resolution security cameras with revolutionary light-sensitivity.”

How did the idea originate?
“At Prodrive Technologies we develop and produce cameras for traffic enforcement systems like GATSO who are known for their speed cameras. It already has been more than ten years since the first one. We work on a semi-independent basis. We started developing its successor in 2011, this resulted in a camera with outstanding performance which has been utilized in the security market. Currently Prodrive Technologies and GATSO are working on a joint venture.”

What makes Ampleye unique?
“Mostly the combination of resolution, low light performance and the amount of frames per second the camera produces. The camera has a relatively large and extremely light-sensitive sensor with many pixels. The large surface captures more light than traditional security cameras. Besides that, you also have the lens; I always compare it with your average selfie-maker and a professional photographer. The last one would never use a mobile phone to make a good detailed photo, but would only use the best equipment available.”

Where is Ampleye mainly used?
“Mainly for city surveillance and in stadiums. In cities, we are currently working on a variety of cases such as in station squares and in streets with many pubs.

What are the results until now?
“We have a lot of success in industrial parks. Last week for example, a theft at the Media Markt was solved thanks to Ampleye. Traditional cameras captured when the perpetrators committed the theft and that they drove in a red car. Our cameras were situated a little further, but we could see that they drove in a Ford Focus with a missing hubcap. Moreover we could see the license plate and we could determine exactly when the car arrived and left the site.”

And more?
“Our cameras have found a container with stolen goods worth fifty thousand euros, identified a motorcyclist who damaged the road surface, delivered evidence that solved a case where infrastructure was damaged for more than ten thousand euros, and spotted someone who damaged a security camera pole with their car. The fact is, if traditional camera footage was used, these cases could not have been solved.”

In which countries are your cameras operating?
“Our network has grown very fast in the last two years. In addition to the British companies Wavestore and IndigoVision, the Canadian firm Genetec who are a world leader in video management software have integrated our camera. We profit from their network and thanks to that, we have several cameras operating in Egypt, Australia, France, Eastern Europe, Asia and South America. Moreover, we notice an increase in interest from the Middle East.”

What does your team look like? What rating would you give it?
“There are four of us in total which equates to three FTEs. We focus purely on sales and communication between our channels. We also receive technical back up from Prodrive and commercial back up from GATSO. All together, we work with ten people at Ampleye. I would rate the team a nine out of ten. I am proud that we achieved such a reputation in such a short time. The shareholders and I certainly never expected that. Especially when you consider that we have been to relatively few events.

What is your tip for start-ups?
“We are a company specialized in hardware that produces a technical superior product. Our pitfall was that we focused too much on the technical aspect and forgot to explain what the actual yields are. We had difficulty explaining the technical message in an understandable way. This was definitely a learning experience. As a tip I can give you: know what the added value of your product is and know how to show this in the best and most understandable way to your potential customers.”

Source: Ampleye: Nederlands oog voor detail wordt wereldwijd ingezet, Pieter Paul van Oerle, Accenture Digital;

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