Patriot One Technologies CEO Martin Cronin on Threat Detection and Microwave Radar
Patriot One Technologies CEO Martin Cronin joins us for a discussion on the technology behind the technology on Patriot One’s weapons detections platform.
James West: Martin, thanks for joining us today.
Martin Cronin: You’re very welcome.
James West: Martin, could you give us an overview, please, of exactly what it is that Patriot One Technologies does?
Martin Cronin: Sure. Patriot One Technology is cognitive microwave radar, and this is essentially a cutting edge technology to scan a subject as they enter a building, either covertly or overtly, and detect whether they’re carrying a concealed weapon, whether that’s a gun, a knife, or a bomb. So it’s using radar, and then it’s analyzing the return radar signal with some pretty clever algorithms which are looking at a database of known artifacts to say with a very high level of certainty whether somebody’s carrying a pistol, a long rifle, suicide vests or a knife, etcetera.
James West: Okay. So you said cognitive microwave –
Martin Cronin: Radar.
James West: Cognitive microwave radar. So then, trying to imagine exactly how this works: you deploy multiple units that create, I would imagine, a 3D signature of objects that might be concealed on a person’s body?
Martin Cronin: What it’s doing is analyzing the precise signature of the metal that it sees. Every weapon will have a unique signature in terms of the composition and quantity and shape of the metal, and so that’s what allows the system – we call it cognitive because it learns, it has a database of known artifacts, it’s referencing the precise signature to its database of known artifacts.
At its most basic level, it can tell you that there’s an anomalous situation; somebody’s entering the building with an unusually large quantity of metal on them, if it can’t determine what that object is. But the more objects it sees, the more it knows, and therefore it has a higher and higher degree of precision about telling you precisely what it’s seeing. So we are populating the database with many different weapon types, as we speak.
James West: Okay. So to what level has testing proven the technology to be effective, and is it 100 percent effective, 90 percent effective, or is it too soon to tell?
Martin Cronin: We’ve done full lab testing and are just now into field testing, where we’re seeing a 94.9 percent true detection rate; by that, we mean it’s accurate in terms of telling you what it is seeing. It has a similarly high true negative detection rate. So if it tells you it’s not seeing anything, then you can be pretty sure it’s not seeing anything.
As we go into pilot installations this fall in a number of locations in Canada and the US, we’re already at the stage where we have a very, very high proven accuracy.
James West: That’s impressive. So theoretically, in a big-picture sort of perspective, it has the potential to really create safe spaces in crowded environments where previously such safety was not possible?
Martin Cronin: Absolutely. I mean, if we look at recent history, North America and many countries overseas have been rocked by random shootings, school shootings, acts of mass terror, and spaces that were previously thought of as being safe – places where we shop, places where we send our children to learn – have become places of risk. Our technology offers us the prospect to change that situation, and bring safety back to these spaces.
Now, the technology can be deployed over the other deterrents to somebody looking to enter one of these buildings with a weapon, but it can also be deployed covertly, so that people don’t know they’re being scanned, so that you can have early warning of an approaching threat. The size of the equipment is very small; we’re talking about the sensor array really being about the size of a house brick, so it can be placed behind drywall or into the floor. So it’s a very low space premium, and it will be priced in such a way that it really is a technology which lends itself to many, many applications, from schools to sports arenas to hotels to shopping malls, government buildings, whorehouses, you name it.
James West: Okay. So how was the technology developed? Whose idea was it, and what took them so long?
Martin Cronin: Well, that’s often the thing about a great idea, isn’t it? You say, why didn’t anybody do this before? There’s an awful lot of very clever technology that lies behind this. McMaster University is where the original research on the radar was undertaken. The continuing development of the product has been done in conjunction with McMaster and with software and hardware engineers in private industry, so we have a consortium approach to finishing the technology development. It’s not something that’s easy to do, and not easily replicated by others, so although it’s a good idea, and you say wow, why didn’t anybody do this before, there are, of course, significant technical challenges that we’ve had to overcome.
James West: So is there patent pending technologies behind this?
Martin Cronin: Yes, there are patents issued.
James West: Okay, great. All right, then, so how scalable is this? What I mean is, how soon till this could actually be deployed globally to, let’s say, starting with the G7 and working our way down from there? How soon till this could actually be a global protection infrastructure?
Martin Cronin: I think that could be a fairly short route. Where we’re at is that, as I mentioned, we’re doing pilot installations in North America over the course of the Fall; we’re looking at six sites where we’ll be proving out the technology and showcasing it to key influencers, key potential customers. We’ll then be moving to a hard launch in the New Year, the new calendar year, where we’ll begin taking orders for the first systems to go out to customers in the Spring of next year. From there, it’s really just a question of scaling to meet the demand.
In all of our conversations with potential customers, that’s the overriding message we get is, how soon can we have it? So we’ll just have to make sure that we have very robust scalability to meet what we expect to be very significant global demand.
James West: Okay. Are there any competing technologies out there that do the same thing, that you’re aware of?
Martin Cronin: No. The competition is largely comprised of the sort of metal detectors and scanners that you see at airports. That’s really the current state of technology. Key difference is that firstly, these are large, fixed devices; they’re a significant investment in terms of cost. The simple metal detectors are only telling you if it’s seeing some metal. Well, that could be a belt buckle, it could be a pen or who knows, a cell phone. So they’re sort of dumb systems, in a sense; they’re just telling you there’s some metal, whereas ours is cognitive, it’s telling you what it’s seeing.
But also, because of their size and their cost, these are not systems that can be deployed covertly, and a key difference with our technology is that we can provide a little bit of standoff to a facility in that people, subject to locals laws, etcetera, people can be scanned as they approach a facility to give early warning to security that they’re walking up with a knife, a bomb, etcetera. And that’s a fundamental difference to the existing technology.
James West: So what is the risk that this might be viewed as a violation of personal privacy on any level?
Martin Cronin: Every jurisdiction is different, but certainly all the conversations we’ve been having to date say that there are no issues, because this is technology which is storing no personal data. It’s taking no image of the individual. All its doing is getting an image, or it’s getting a signature, of an inanimate object, so therefore, there should be no privacy concerns. But that said, there could be jurisdictions that would need to work through the issue of lawful search; but in the first instance, we’re focused on private facilities, which may wish to put up signage to say that people may be subject to scans, just in the same way that an airport puts up such signage. That’s a huge market in itself, even before we get into public spaces.
But certainly, every conversation we’ve been having to date leads us to feel that there are no real issues around privacy because as I say, there is no personal data gathered, no image of an individual.
James West: Okay. So how are you going to introduce this to, say, law enforcement in the United States? How are they going to find out about it?
Martin Cronin: Well, we’re already talking to many, many departments and agencies. Our pilots will be showcasing the event to multiple departments and agencies; we will be doing a fairly high-profile launch shortly with law enforcement departments. So we have a pretty well-developed action plan around getting the message out to key influencers.
But as I mentioned, the target market is huge and diverse, covering every aspect of life: mass transit, travel, airports, train stations, entertainment, sports arenas, schools, courthouses. So there’s a very large and diverse market out there, so we’re in the process of going out to all of those potential sectors to really make them aware of what’s coming down the pipeline for them.
James West: Sure. What could go wrong? What keeps you awake at night in regards to this whole technology?
Martin Cronin: Well, you always worry about competition; if something’s a good idea, there’s somebody else doing it. So we’ve done a pretty comprehensive scan of the competitive market landscape and have seen no competitive technologies coming anywhere close to what we’re offering.
We have to be absolutely rigorous about protecting the IT security so that the system can’t be hacked for disruption or deception, so that piece is being rigorously looked at. We have to look at the possibility that people may seek to carry composite polymer weapons, homemade weapons, etcetera; with each one being different, they can have a unique signature. So we’re addressing that aspect. But certainly right now, we can cover the overwhelming majority of weapons which are posing a threat to public safety.
So there’s a number of aspects that we are focused on in terms of protecting our competitive position as we move forward.
James West: Great. Okay, Martin, let’s leave it there for now. I’ll come back to you in a couple quarters’ time and see how you’re making out. Thank you for your time today.
Martin Cronin: Terrific. Thank you very much indeed.
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