As a startup in the operational artificial intelligence (AI) sector, EMAGIN Clean Technologies Inc., is finding a receptive audience for a new system that uses AI for environmental protection as a means to help municipal utilities proactively improve their water and wastewater operations.

EMAGIN founders Mohamad Vedut, left, Mariam Javed and Thouheed Abdul

EMAGIN founders Mohamad Vedut, left, Mariam Javed and Thouheed Abdul Gaffoor. Photo by Waterloo Region Record, Ontario Canada 2017

The startup co-founded by Waterloo Engineering Civil and Systems Design graduate students, can tout both cost savings and environmental protection.

“When we tell them what we can provide, they’re excited to learn more,” says Thouheed Abdul Gaffoor, who co-founded the company in early 2016 based on his co-op experiences and civil engineering master’s research at Waterloo. “A lot of these municipalities are really forward-thinking, so they’re ready to implement these new technologies.”

AI for environmental protection

EMAGIN uses operational AI software to analyze and “learn” from data that is already collected by water utilities via sensors. Based on what happened in the past, the system can predict what will happen in the future and make recommendations to maximize efficiency.

If they accurately know what water demand will be at a given time, for instance, utilities can prepare for it by pumping when electricity rates are at their lowest, generating savings in the process.

“They collect this data, but they don’t ever use it,” says Gaffoor. “That’s why this is the next logical step for utilities in terms of technology.”

EMAGIN uses AI for Environmental Protection

After winning a coveted spot at a Silicon Valley accelerator for startups in the water sector and, most recently, $25,000 in the Velocity Fund Finals at Waterloo, the company is just gathering steam.

In addition to pilot projects for its low-overhead, Internet-based subscription service at utilities in Ontario, California and the Middle East, EMAGIN is negotiating a round of seed funding from private investors.

One of many Waterloo spinoffs poised to contribute to the coming AI revolution, it also has plans to grow beyond the Velocity Garage in downtown Kitchener with satellite locations in Ontario and the San Francisco area.

“It’s been pretty fast-paced, but we’re loving it,” says Gaffoor.