DARVIS Delivering AI Innovation
DARVIS might be a new name in Nashville, but the AI tech startup is positioned to become a game changer in the global healthcare space.
A 2021 graduate of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center's Project Healthcare, the company relocated its headquarters from Silicon Valley to Nashville in June, bringing its rapidly growing team to the heart of U.S. healthcare. DARVIS - short for Data Analytic Real-World Visual Intelligence System - is an innovative tech company utilizing augmented intelligence to automate processes in healthcare settings from digitization of clinical objects to live analysis of operational procedures.
Connecting to the NEC
"We discovered the Nashville Entrepreneur Center by accident," explained Jan Schlueter, DARVIS co-founder and COO. "One of our long-term employees is from Memphis and told that us that Nashville had become a hotspot for healthcare. He suggested we apply for Project Healthcare. We did and then made the decision to move to where we can maximize our business opportunities."
Schlueter said the team was met with open arms by the NEC, who led them through a valuable networking and mentorship process during an otherwise tumultuous year. "We were in the (coronavirus) edition of the program, so it was 100 percent virtual," said Schlueter, who was part of the NEC's 20-member cohort in 2020. "We participated in a weekly session, which helped us improve on many levels so that after almost a year, we had the final pitch which helped us with potential clients and investors."
While their 3,500-square-foot Nashville facility opened in June, DARVIS employs a global team of more than 60, with hopes to add another 20 by year's end.
A Crucial Pivot
The company was founded in 2015 as Hashplay, a San Francisco-based virtual reality company. "We were two German guys trying to find luck off software development in the U.S.," Schlueter said.
When the virtual reality market didn't rise as expected, he and DARVIS co-founder and CEO Jan-Phillip Mohr were forced to switch gears - a decision that would lead to something even bigger as the team switched focus to become a computer vision company built to deliver solutions to enable patient-centered care while minimizing the rate of healthcare-acquired infections.
"We had luck and great clients that helped us find the right path," he said. "We pivoted from the base of a platform we created years ago. The essence of everything we did in the last six-plus years makes us unique for what we're doing today."
Meeting a Need
Today, the company builds solutions to fuel the hospitals of the future. While DARVIS's first partnerships were hospital groups in Germany, through Project Healthcare, they're replicating those success stories with U.S. health systems.
Working with clients, DARVIS first identifies operational flows and installs sensors in strategic locations to create different zones. By extracting information from computer vision cameras and AI, DARVIS technology utilizes a platform that tracks inventory by creating dots on a map. That means everything from hospital beds to sterilization containers can be tracked in real time.
"Many of our future clients don't know where their things are," Schlueter said. "Putting a dot on the map for everything from beds to IV stands helps give them situational awareness in real time." Schlueter said their technology is 20 times more accurate than Bluetooth or RFID solutions, which typically operate blind, and offers clinical staff a 30 percent times savings. "The value is being created by sending information to the people who care where things are and need to be helped by automating," he explained.
"Normally, a nurse pushes a bed out of a patient room and goes to a computer or calls someone to move it, but she has better things to do. We're creating value by optimizing processes and operations to create more revenue. AI companies are popping up like mushrooms, which shows there's a market, but they're not doing what we do," he continued.
DARVIS synthetically trains optical sensors to identify new protocols in as little as five weeks and customizes training based on each client's needs. During COVID, that meant just using a couple thousand real world images to create hundreds of thousands of digital images to train the AI to detect proper mask, cap, gown, gloves, goggles, and other PPE positioning for checks. The same protocol is being used by DARVIS clients for sterilization stations, mail cart monitoring, and other scenarios where tracking and anonymity are desired.
"We're bringing awareness to hospitals and caretaking facilities to understand they can improve operations and automate inventory, which is very easy with us," Schlueter concluded.