One of the world’s biggest engineering companies — with nearly 400,000 employees worldwide — Bosch has operated a Research Technology Center office in the Strip District for several years.

Now, the company is opening an advanced R&D center for its fully owned startup Azena, which is developing an open platform for smart cameras and an application store with nearly 100 artificial intelligence video analytics apps. One of the first adopters will be the Pittsburgh Penguins, which plans to use Azena apps to improve safety, security and the overall experience for its fans at PPG Paints Arena.

The Android-based, open operating system for smart cameras enables Azena apps to run directly on any camera.

“The Pittsburgh area’s incubator community, with its high-quality tech talent pool and innovation mindset is an ideal setting as we continue to develop our platform, which is based on a creative new business model for cameras,” says Adam Wynne, director of Azena’s innovation accelerator. “We’re excited to expand the possibilities of how AI and machine learning can help organizations like the Penguins achieve their safety and customer experience goals using cameras and apps in innovative ways.”

Azena camera. Photo courtesy of Azena.

When installed at PPG Paints Arena, the apps will help the Pens’ staff manage crowds.

The software can detect whether or not someone is wearing a mask, seat occupancy, parking and how long the lines are for food or restrooms.

“Innovation is in our DNA, and partnering with organizations like Azena is a perfect catalyst to continue to enhance our fan experience,” says Erik Watts, chief technology officer for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The platform is already helping organizations around the world monitor crowds for mask requirements, safety equipment and changes in customer traffic.

One customer is an oil drilling company that uses smart cameras with Azena to help remotely monitor for pumping disruptions. Another chemical plant uses smart cameras to look for smoke and pollutants.

There are 120 employees working for Azena right now, between its Munich headquarters, a development hub in the Netherlands and the R&D center in Pittsburgh.

The Strip District is bursting with artificial intelligence research right now, with Bosch along with companies like Argo AI, Aurora and Petuum nearby. Pittsburgh was recognized for its specialization in this field by the 2021 Genome Global Startup Ecosystem Report which ranked the city as the world’s 23rd best Emerging Startup Ecosystem.