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Melbourne’s InnerVision ups ante in smart parking

InnerVision Engineering’s smart parking solution uses machine vision and other technologies to deliver a frictionless parking experience for drivers in Australia

Melbourne-based tech company InnerVision Engineering has developed a smart parking solution that is touted to deliver a frictionless parking experience for drivers.

Dubbed Beyond Park, the solution comprises a smartphone app for drivers that provides directions to the nearest carparks for a given location, smart gantries and cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities.

As a car enters a carpark, a gantry fitted with cameras will recognise the vehicle’s number plate. And as it exits the carpark, parking fees are automatically charged to the driver’s credit card through the Beyond Park app.

“If there is a discount, we can apply that. But if not, you can just exit the gantry and you don’t actually have to pull a ticket. It’s quite frictionless,” said Darren Casha, founder and managing director at InnerVision Engineering.

The company, which counts Westfield and Curtin University as clients, recently added an intercom capability powered by Avaya’s Cloud Office communications platform to enable its staff to assist drivers who need help at the gantry as they are exiting a carpark.

Getting number plate recognition right is key for any smart parking solution. Casha said existing image recognition systems in the market were not built for Australian number plates, which can be customised with different colours and symbols.

“Australia and New Zealand have the most difficult number plates to recognise in the world,” Casha said. “So, we decided to build an AI-based solution where every number plate that comes into our image recognition software is automatically updated across the network.

“If there is a number plate that can’t be recognised, it goes to our cloud-based algorithm which does deeper learning. And during that process, we’ll have a 99.8% recognition rate,” he added.

Casha said in 0.2% of cases where the company’s algorithm could not recognise a number plate, manual intervention will kick in.

“For example, there was a number plate with a black swan that looked like an ‘S’, and it also had this big circle which looked like a zero. We were able to flag that number plate as one of the 0.2% that we weren’t able to recognise initially. We applied manual intervention and then after that the system worked.”

According to Casha, carparks can lose up to 7% in parking fees due to tailgating incidents, which InnerVision is working with carpark operators to stem.

In some cases, drivers would need to tap a card to enter and exit a carpark after their number plates are recognised while those who don’t do so will be charged additional fees. InnerVision could also use its algorithm to look out for front and rear number plates that don’t match to identify tailgaters.

Casha said carpark operators that use InnerVision’s parking guidance cameras to guide drivers to vacant lots can also use the same cameras to help drivers locate their cars when they are ready to leave.

Alternatively, operators could deploy kiosks where drivers can key in their number plates to locate their vehicles, or display QR codes in parking zones which drivers can scan with the Beyond Park app to note the locations of their cars.

On its business expansion strategy, Casha said the company plans to build significant ground in Australia over the next 12 to 24 months before venturing overseas.

“At the end of the day, this solution can be deployed in different countries and locations. So, while there is no immediate push internationally, if an opportunity comes or a customer is eager for a solution that can digitalise their parking industry, then we will definitely be able to meet those requirements.”

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