Immobileyes bridges the gap between identifying a threat and stopping an intruder
In 2019, 38 percent of Americans owned home security products like video cameras, alarms, smart locks or professionally monitored home security systems. But despite those measures, there were more than 1 million burglaries in the same year. Most security systems don’t have the means of intervening when a threat is identified, which can prevent them from actually protecting a property. But Kent startup Immobileyes is creating a device that uses lasers to disrupt the vision of intruders, deterring them from continuing into a building or preventing the intrusion altogether.
“Immobileyes is developing a new laser disruption technology that harnesses the power of light to increase security,” said Atossa Alavi, co-founder and CEO of Immobileyes. “We are developing what we call a Laser Storm device that is going to combine two or three different wavelengths of laser and split them into a shower of light. This can cause a delay, disruption or visual distortion for intruders, assailants or threatening elements. It’s a new concept where we step in and immediately interfere with what they can do or stop them from going forward. It is closing that gap between identifying a threat and law enforcement arriving.”
Immobileyes started through research from AlphaMicron, another Kent-based company that creates optical devices for light management and protection in industries such as military, automotive, architecture and sports eyewear. AlphaMicron found defense against lasers difficult, leading to Immobileyes’ plan to use them as a means of causing visual disruption to delay or deter an intruder. But the technology isn’t just meant for use as a home security system. Immobileyes’ ultimate goal is to protect schools and other buildings from active shooters. Alavi, a mother herself, was a part of the team that took the idea of laser security one step further.
“The idea right off the bat was to try to cause visual disruption in an active-shooter situation in schools and buy time before law enforcement arrived to reduce the ability of a shooter to see and move forward” said Alavi. “When you get that text on your cell phone that says your kid’s school is in lockdown, this is when you panic and realize that there’s nothing you can do. We thought, ‘There has to be a way that we can go in there and stop an active shooter.’ So that’s how it started, and it’s always been our North Star.”
Along the way, Immobileyes’ Kent home and partnership with AlphaMicron has been ideal for fostering the company’s early days. Between talent from nearby universities, low overhead costs and access to experts in the field, Alavi said she feels fortunate to have been building Immobileyes in Kent. And with nearby access to tech, military and research programs right here in Ohio, the company is primed for growth.
“The environment here is very positive and very supportive of our work,” said Alavi. “The other unique thing Ohio brings is that we have Wright-Patterson Air Force base and a lot of close ties with the Air Force. There’s a lot of industry here that has close ties to the military, which makes this the perfect place for us. There are many unique programs that make Ohio stand apart. We have the Ohio Federal Research Network grant program that offers funding and connects companies with academic research institutions and the federal research lab. We have the Air Force Federal Research Lab that really fosters collaboration and innovation.”
For its many applications, Immobileyes’ laser security system is unique. Other laser systems use a single, powerful ray to create visual impairment, but Immobileyes uses multiple-wavelength beams split into many lower-power rays to create a shower of moving laser beams. This increases the effectiveness of the lasers without needing to increase the intensity. Following “eye-safe standards” they learned from AlphaMicron research, the company boasts an effective method without putting people in physical danger.
“The lasers are startling, like a deer in the headlights that realizes that this is not a safe place and that they should not proceed or go forward,” said Alavi. “The idea is that when people see the light, they get stunned and surprised and can’t see a target. Whether they’re coming into your home or a school or trying to proceed towards the police, the aim is for them to avoid the beams, turn around and leave the area. The mission has always been to actually make a difference. We know that 80% of human perception is through vision, so if you can disrupt that, you can disrupt the damage a person can do. If we are able to save lives, then it’s been really worthwhile.”