AI camera row damaging tech industry, making us rethink working with Kerala govt: Mediatronix CEO


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Industries minister P Rajeev and opposition leader VD Satheesan | Photos: Mathrubhumi

Kozhikode: Kannan Natarajan, CEO of Mediatronix, a company that was involved in the controversial AI-enabled traffic surveillance project of Kerala MVD, stated that the company is seriously considering not engaging in any future projects with the Kerala government. He said the controversy was unnecessary and “badly harming the technical industry.”

VD Satheesan, the opposition leader of the Kerala Assembly, along with MLA Ramesh Chennithala, accused corruption in the deal, claiming that the cameras did not cost the amount claimed by Keltron, a state-owned PSU, the project implementing agency. Mediatronix was one of the sub contractors engaged by SRIT, Bengaluru, the contract company won the bid of Keltron for this project.

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“We provided the hardware components for the camera, and the global shutter technology used in the cameras was developed by us for the MVD. Although this is an international technology, there are few providers in India. If you were to approach Bosch (engineering company Robert Bosch GmbH), they would charge you an exorbitant price for the same technology. The camera we provided is priced at the same rate as the high-end model of Bosch CCTV with rolling shutter technology. However, we used global shutter technology which is much more sophisticated. If it were made by Bosch, people would readily accept it,” Kannan told mathrubhumi.com.

He said with global shutter technology, clear images can be captured even at night.

“Image quality is a crucial factor in our business, and it's worth mentioning that the camera output is exceptional, with no other system able to provide such clarity. The camera's sensor is made by Sony, and it has hundreds of components. We have provided our top-notch products to companies such as Siemens and NHAI, among others," he added.

“We are a company with DSlR (Department of Scientific and Industrial Research) [under Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India] recognition, for the past 25 years. Our camera and imaging products (in traffic enforcement & medical imaging) are state of the art world class quality systems, and have been evaluated and accepted by major agencies. Our products are Make in lndia with in house developed technology and certain special camera systems are only manufactured by us in India,” the company stated in a press release.

“I invite any technical expert to review the camera, and they will find nothing different to what I said. They can compare the price with other private international companies and check how the system works,” Kannan told mathrubhumi.com.

Opposition leader VD Satheesan alleged that though Keltron has stated that the cameras cost Rs 9.5 lakh each, cameras similar to these are not even a tenth of the price claimed. He also stated that there were anomalies in the “sub contracts” given by Keltron. He said SRIT had no expertise in the field and had to hire subcontractors to implement it.

“We feel that if we had developed this technology outside Kerala, we would have received better treatment. Unfortunately, people tend to create controversy without fully understanding the situation. As a result, we are currently evaluating whether or not to pursue any future projects with the Kerala government, as the media and certain politicians have made it difficult for IT companies like ours to operate in the state,” Kannan said.

“We would like to state that such reports in the newspapers are badly harming the Technical lndustry as a whole," the press release stated.

Interestingly, in an interview with newspaper New Indian Express, Ramesh Chennithala claimed IT was the common theme of the present and previous LDF governments’ "scandals."

“The major corruption scandals involving the two governments headed by Pinarayi Vijayan have a common pattern. They are all hatched in 2018. The Sprinklr, e-bus, SIMS, and Bevco scandals, to name a few, were all IT related scams that sprang up during Sivasankar’s tenure as IT secretary,” he alleged.

Earlier, in a television interview, Madhu Nambiar, MD of SRIT, said Mediatronix was an implementing partner in the project.

“Mediatronix integrated the systems. They were implementing partners in the project. They have done many cameras before also. They have the expertise to embed the AI technology in the cameras,” he said.

While Mediatronix provided hardware components, Trois Infotech, another Thiruvananthapuram-based tech company provided the AI software. The company contact numbers available on the internet were turned off when contacted. They did not reply to the email query either.

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