Startup Spotlight: UAE-Based Pulse Is Aiding Early Detection Of Civil Infrastructure Deterioration Using Advanced Tech Pulse's aim is therefore to deploy locally manufactured sensors that can optimize the maintenance of civil structures, as well as maximize their service life.

By Aalia Mehreen Ahmed

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Usama Jacir and Ruba Hasan, co-founders, Pulse

This article is part of an ongoing series covering startups that have been a part of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund (MBRIF) accelerator program.

"The Fitbit of civil structures": that's the tagline that UAE-based Pulse uses to define its civil infrastructure sensor platform. Much like how modern wearable devices -like Fitbit- are designed to monitor one's health, Pulse was developed to detect early signs of structural deterioration in concrete buildings and infrastructure. "I'd spent all my career in the protection and repair of civil structures, [which was] where I realized that intervention is too often too late," says Usama Jacir, co-founder and CEO of Pulse. "Inspired by the use of wearables in wellness and healthcare, I started on the journey to invent our first product for corrosion monitoring. It took a few iterations to get to the final product which we launched this year. With the growing awareness of sustainable construction as well as the maturing of internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, the timing is ideal for the construction industry to realize the tangible benefits of a solution such as Pulse."

Launched in January 2023 by Jacir and Ruba Hasan (the startup's co-founder and COO), Pulse's aim is therefore to deploy locally manufactured sensors that can optimize the maintenance of civil structures, as well as maximize their service life. The very first manifestation of this vision has been the Pulse IoT100, a structural health monitoring system that leverages IoT technology. "Our first solution, Pulse IoT100, tackles the hidden problem of corrosion of steel reinforcement within concrete structures," Jacir explains. "Corrosion is the primary cause of structural failures, and it is often insidious, leading to structural degradation, and, in some cases, catastrophic failures. It is particularly relevant in the Arabian Gulf, where high salinity combined with high temperatures and humidity create the ideal conditions for corrosion. Corrosion leads to cracks, spalls, and, ultimately, structural failures, which necessitate repairs. With this in mind, Pulse's corrosion monitoring system detects the early signs of corrosion, allowing asset owners to intervene before significant damage occurs. We empower them with predictive insights, thereby ensuring the longevity and safety of their investments in a cost-effective manner."

Pulse monitors the structural health of civil structures using concrete sensors to optimize maintenance and maximize service life through structure monitoring. Source: Pulse

Of course, in order to provide actionable insights, these cutting-edge sensors first collect relevant data from the concrete building structures. "These sensors are strategically placed on civil structures, such as buildings or bridges, to monitor various structural parameters in real-time," Jacir continues. "Pulse's business model includes the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data from the deployed IoT sensors. This analysis is crucial in identifying structural weaknesses and potential issues within the monitored structures."

Related: Startup Spotlight: HealthStay Aims To Tap Into The UAE's Burgeoning Medical Tourism Industry

All of the factors you've read so far, however, are not the startup's unique selling point, according to its founder. Instead, he believes it is the longevity of the Pulse sensors, as well as their ability to be incorporated into any structural design, that truly sets the offering apart from competitors in the domain. "For starters, Pulse differentiates itself by utilizing corrosion as a power source for its IoT sensors," Jacir says. "This approach eliminates the need for traditional batteries. Its 3D-printed sensors allow customization and localization of production. The data from Pulse IoT will be processed with advanced AI technology to enable predictive analytics. This means the IoT devices are not only collecting data, but also using AI algorithms to analyze that data. The insights generated will contribute to improving predictive models and construction practices."

Having adopted such a well-rounded approach, Jacir is confident that his startup can also easily be scaled to address other issues within the industries it operates in. "The long-term potential of Pulse's revenue model lies in its ability to not only provide IoT solutions, but also to offer other structural health monitoring systems that help customers extend the lifespan of their civil structures, reduce lifecycle costs, and enhance the overall safety and reliability of these assets," he explains. "Pulse aims to focus on cutting-edge technology, and its presence in rapidly growing markets contributes to its revenue growth potential."

Pulse IoT100 is a structural health monitoring system utilizing the latest IoT technology to provide a comprehensive and effective approach to monitoring the health of concrete structures. Source: Pulse

Note here that Jacir's sturdy belief in his startup's scope is backed by a team that is equally invested in the future of Pulse. "The team at Pulse collectively possesses over 50 years of industrial experience, including expertise in structural engineering and manufacturing," Jacir reveals. "This background is crucial for developing and promoting IoT solutions in the industrial and structural engineering sectors. In the long term, Pulse aims to scale its business globally by securing funding, expanding its customer base, and leveraging its team's expertise. As a startup with innovative IoT solutions, as well as a focus on sustainability and cost-effective asset management, Pulse has the potential to provide long-term value to its customers and investors, while making a positive impact in the industry."

As it so happens, Pulse has already begun sowing the seeds of its growth. "In terms of market traction, Pulse is actively engaging with potential customers, and it has initiated its first pilot project in collaboration with Aramco, a Saudi Arabia-based global energy company that produces and refines oil and gas," Jacir says. "This demonstrates a growing interest in the product as well as the potential for adoption in the industry. In terms of funding, we are in the seed stage of fundraising. And most importantly, with the MBRIF providing startups with a very well-structured program, including mentorship, business development, workshops and training, we believe it will be a crucial avenue that helps Pulse gain regional and global exposure."

Thus, as Jacir and his team train their sights on the future, the founder believes that staying atop industry trends and shifts is what will ultimately determine Pulse's results in the long term. "Innovation plays a key role in our startup's future, as we collect data from structures, and continuously work on upgrading and improving our products," Jacir says. "Innovation is the main driver of our startup; so, keeping our finger on the industry's pulse is essential for our future success."

Related: Charting The Future: The UAE Emerges As A Leader In Sustainable Infrastructure Development

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed

Features Writer, Entrepreneur Middle East

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed is the Features Writer at Entrepreneur Middle East.

She is an MBA (Finance) graduate with past experience in the corporate sector, and was also co-founder of CyberSWIFTT- an anti-cyberbullying campaign that ran from 2017-2018 as part of the e7: Daughters of the Emirates program.

Ahmed is keen on pursuing and writing stories on people-centric leadership, female-owned startups, and entrepreneurs who've beaten significant odds to realize their goals.

A bibliophile, chai addict, and photography enthusiast, she can be often found (animatedly) talking about Kdramas, BTS, cricket, novels, and comic book films.

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