You've probably heard the old adage that crime doesn't pay. But during recessions and other times of financial uncertainty, crimes like robbery and auto theft after become more common.
But there is one legitimate way to cash in on criminal activity: by fighting it. Whether through hearing, seeing or saying something, these three cutting edge security startups are plying emerging technologies to make the world a safer place -- and make an honest buck while they're at it.
Hear something: Victrio
Identity thieves are getting bolder all the time, creating the need for increased security measures to keep them at bay. It used to be that if criminals got hold of someone's personal information, they would fill out credit card applications or open false bank accounts. But these days, they even get on the phone and try to impersonate their victims.
To fight such fraudulent behavior, Mountain View, Calif.-based Victrio works with companies to authenticate callers' identities by using their "voiceprint" -- a combination of factors such as their voice biometrics, signal characteristics and metadata. An extremely competitive field, voice-authenticated security has attracted the interest of major players like Nuance [http://www.nuance.com], whose speech-recognition solutions power everything from apps to ads, as well as many smaller innovators.
Victrio's solution works in the background, sending confidence scores to call center representatives in real time. That prompts them to ask more security questions if in doubt, or continue with business as usual if the voice profile matches. Victrio offers volume-based pricing on a per call basis.
The company sets itself apart from its competition with its global fraud database, a proprietary collection of voiceprints that spans crooks targeting the banking, healthcare and government fields. The idea is that fraudsters don't discriminate when it comes to the type of companies they exploit, so neither should Victrio's protection.
See something: Camiolog
In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, surveillance cameras provided crucial information to help catch the alleged perpetrators and became more popular than at any time since the 9/11 attacks in the U.S. Over the previous decade, however, security cameras had plenty of critics, citing privacy concerns as they proliferated.
Now, San Mateo, Calif.-based Camiolog stands to see a lot more business, as companies large and small look to ramp up video security with lightweight, easy-to-deploy solutions.
Founded in 2011 and bootstrapped by former Google Maps director Carter Maslan, Camiolog offers full-service, 24-hour video surveillance solutions for as little as 55 cents per day, with such features as cloud storage, smart alerts and search included as standard with the service. Selling compatible cameras (including indoor/outdoor Wi-Fi and night vision models), storing video and analyzing footage to detect activity, the company provides a comprehensive package for keeping watch over property.
Third-party cameras also work nicely with the service, so long as they can be connected to an internet router. That requirement allows Camiolog videos to be stored in the cloud, improving security in case of fire. They can be viewed using any web browser or free iOS and Android apps.
The company's bring-your-own-device approach and pay-per-day rates position it well in a crowded competitive marketplace full of tech giants like Logitech, Philips and Netgear.
Say something: Elerts
Ironically, people carry their cellphones on them at all times in case of emergencies, but when disasters go down, so too can mobile carrier service. Looking to patch these communications breakdowns, Braintree, Mass.-based Elerts offers emergency response software for smartphones that specifically target transit systems, healthcare companies, colleges and utility providers.
Founded in 2010, the company specializes in developing customized emergency smartphone products for outside organizations, such as the citizen reporting apps it made for Atlanta's MARTA and Boston's MBTA transit systems. It also offers several free apps to the general public. The apps pull data from several places, including government disaster sources, fellow app users and social networks, sending emergency responders everything from geo-tagged photos to mapped evacuation routes.
Pricing for Elerts' hosted security services is based on the size of the client. The mass transit solutions range from $20,000 to $95,000 per year. The hospital and campus apps' prices depend on the size of the group served, running approximately $12 per person per year.
The emergency mass communications space is heating up, with competitors like AtHoc, Rave Mobile Safety and Blackboard all vying for contracts with universities and government agencies. But Elerts' social integration helps set this startup apart.
Coincidentally, on the day of the Boston Marathon, Elerts' chief architect happened to be near the bombing site and was able to put the company's app to a real world test. As confusion mounted, people made an overwhelming number of calls and texts, flooding carriers' voice and SMS networks. But the wireless data line remained functional, allowing services like Elerts to cut through the confusion and deliver information as it developed.