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Enhancing the Video Intelligence Experience: Q&A with Trimble’s Jesse Chappell

Video systems have come a long way since they were first introduced, and are constantly evolving to keep up with new technologies, market needs, customer demands and more, helping fleets and drivers operate more safely and effectively.

Recently, Trimble rolled out a variety of enhancements to its Video Intelligence solution, so we met back up with Trimble Transportation’s Jesse Chappell, global business development manager, who gave us the run-down of what's new with Video Intelligence.

It’s great to talk to you again, Jesse! What’s new since the last time we spoke with you?

Over the past 18 months, our team has been hard at work preparing to roll out several new enhancements to Trimble’s Video Intelligence solution. We not only introduced several pieces of new hardware, but also updated the back end to support it all, giving us many new capabilities.

The new features include a 4-channel DVR and Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS); Cabin Intelligent Monitor (CIM) for identifying risky driving behaviors; Dynamic Driver Defense (DCube) for real-time safety alerts, additional side-mounted pod cameras and rear-facing cameras and more.

Our focus at Trimble is on building out a scalable environment, so we are really looking at how we can plan for rapid expansion of solutions like video telematics both domestically in North America and globally. We built this platform from the ground up and are launching several new in-cab features that the market has been looking for over the past few years.

Very cool – how did these new features come about?

Our Video Intelligence solution has always been guided heavily by our customers and their feedback. Of course, we pay very close attention to market trends, challenges and needs as well, but one of my favorite parts of my job is getting to go out and visit with our customers so I can hear directly from them about what they’re seeing and experiencing, and what their interest is with video in general.

I really enjoy having these conversations to understand what our customers are looking for and what we can develop and bring to the table to help them solve their business challenges.

Our customers are always wanting more from their video solutions, and we are happy to build out new capabilities to help them leverage their systems in new ways.

The benefits of video for fleets are numerous: from increased safety and enhanced coaching to reduced accident liability exposure. How has video technology evolved to also support drivers along their routes?

When we first launched Video Intelligence in 2016, many of our customers were interested in leveraging video recordings for driver exoneration in accidents and lawsuits. Today, that has expanded immensely, as carriers are seeing first-hand the many benefits of having an objective perspective in the cab and around the truck, particularly regarding safety.

Many truck drivers are accustomed to having a variety of advanced safety systems in their personal vehicles, so they are more readily adopting and embracing video in their trucks, too. DCube and CIM identify behaviors and provide non-intrusive reminders for things like distractions, lane departure and fatigue to help keep drivers safe and focused.

We are excited to leverage our deep industry expertise to bring these popular consumer-level technologies to the trucking industry, which often has more complex needs.

Driver coaching has always been the base of our platform and is something that is so beneficial for drivers to be able to review videos from their own driving history. Giving them the opportunity to review scenarios and see how they responded – either positively or negatively – is so impactful and meaningful when it’s a real-life situation that they faced. There’s something so much more concrete about seeing yourself make a mistake – or do something really well – that brings that awareness and drives positive change.

One other feature I think is noteworthy is the Driver Assist functionality, which brings live video from the pod or backup cameras into the cab when the turn signal is on, or the truck is in reverse. This feature is great for navigating blind spots and backing into tight areas like loading docks, helping drivers make more informed decisions based on their surroundings.

One of the key enhancements is how Video Intelligence utilizes Artificial Intelligence. What is this technology about and why is it important for a video platform?

Artificial intelligence (AI) has become a bit of a buzzword over the years, but it can easily be broken down into two main categories: AI and machine learning (ML). They’re often spoken of as similar things, but they work very differently.

Machine learning is done behind-the-scenes, analyzing data and sharing back information like metrics or coaching recommendations. On the other hand, AI is typically performed at the edge, on the in-cab device itself.

At Trimble, we leverage both of these technologies in different ways, and actually had 200+ data scientists working on our enhanced Video Intelligence algorithms to ensure an extremely high level of accuracy. It’s absolutely essential for our solutions to be able to quickly and correctly identify driver behaviors and how the truck is moving in order to provide real-time alerts that are both expedient and relevant.

What have you been hearing from the people using these new products?

Many of our customers are really excited to see the higher resolution of the cameras, which we have enhanced to 1080p. They are seeing an incredibly crisp image, which is very much appreciated by safety managers and other back-office staff who are using the footage for coaching and more – they can see exactly what is taking place in sharp detail.

We have also heard a lot of appreciation for just how accurate the real-time notifications are for certain behaviors such as lane departures. As I mentioned before, we spent a lot of time working on our algorithms to get them just right, so it’s great to hear from customers that they are seeing the benefits.

I actually heard from a fleet recently who shared with us that the solution had identified a driver who was falling asleep while driving – there is a video that shows the DCube alerting him in the cab and waking him up – he might have fallen asleep just 30 seconds later. So, seeing that in action and preventing accidents is pretty remarkable.

What makes Trimble's Video Intelligence unique?

Because our Video Intelligence solution integrates directly to the CAN-BUS through our on-board computer, the data is so much more accurate than other solutions on the market that rely on accelerometers alone. With accelerometers, video software solutions rely on what the device thinks is happening, whereas with a direct connection to the CAN-BUS it is accessing the actual data from the truck itself – transmission speed, wheel speed, engine speed, etc.

This also means you won’t get conflicting information – I’ve heard of some instances where a fleet may use one solution for telematics and another for video – the two solutions may present different information like speed. In high-stakes situations such as at the scene of an accident or during lawsuits, it is so important to have consistent data points.

The other advantage that we offer is our team’s massive amount of trucking domain knowledge. There are some folks who have been in this industry for 20, 25 years – as a whole, we are really good at helping our customers overcome their problems and identify solutions because we’ve probably been there ourselves or helped another customer with something similar in the past.

This solution, which originally started as a way for fleets to protect their assets, has really grown and expanded into an extremely useful tool for creating a safer driving environment for everyone on the road.

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