AI Startup Butlr Announced Winners in World Economic Forum Uplink Challenge for Urban Sustainability

Company’s AI Sensors to Be Installed Throughout San Francisco for Energy Efficient, Collaborative and Productive Workplaces

Butlr Named Yes San Francisco Winner

Butlr, an AI startup with the world’s first and only anonymous people-sensing technology platform, has been named a Top Innovator by UpLink and the World Economic Forum for the Yes San Francisco Urban Sustainability Challenge.

As part of the World Economic Forum’s new global effort to support the development and growth of innovation ecosystems, the challenge called for solutions to reimagine and transform the city of San Francisco. Butlr technology was selected to play a critical role in revitalizing downtown San Francisco and positioning the city as a leader in sustainability innovation. 

Butlr combines artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms with body heat sensing technology to infer human presence and activity while being incapable of collecting personal information. Its Heatic™ wireless sensors magnetically mount to the wall or ceiling and provide real-time and historical spatial insights into how a space is used. 

“We are honored to be selected for the Yes SF program and are committed to helping address the 30-40% under-utilization of commercial real estate in San Francisco,” said Honghao Deng, CEO and co-founder, Butlr. “San Francisco’s reputation as a thriving, vibrant city for innovation and entrepreneurship is what attracted Butlr to put down roots here. Now, as part of the alliance between public and private stakeholders to revitalize the city, we can’t wait to help drive positive change on a local and global level.”

Butlr can provide San Francisco’s employers, city planners and property managers with a better understanding of how the workforce uses commercial real estate based on actual behavior. For example, insights on foot traffic, occupancy levels and activity are critical for asset management, city planning and reducing carbon footprints. 

Additionally, office chair rollbacks often signal impromptu meetings, and individuals squatting in large conference rooms for focused work may indicate their workspace is too cold, hot or noisy, yet this action negatively impacts a building’s heating/cooling requirements. Employers also use Butlr insights to reconfigure office layouts and hybrid work policies based on office location, individual roles and corporate culture. Further, applying AI to Butlr data produces layout and design suggestions depicting the best use of office space based on individual company needs as well as energy performance and sustainability.

Coalition Supports Bay Area Entrepreneurs

San Francisco, whose business district has struggled to rebound post-pandemic, is providing a first test case for how the Yes SF program can drive investment into local innovation ecosystems and catalyze new forms of public-private collaboration. 

A coalition of more than 20 public and private sector partners has committed in-kind and financial resources to support the entrepreneurs selected for Yes SF, including:

  • The City of San Francisco, under the direction of the Mayor’s Office, will ease the implementation of new urban sustainability solutions.
  • The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce will provide hands-on support for businesses as they set up their operations in San Francisco and forge new collaborations with the diverse ecosystem of local partners.
  • On a global level, UpLink will help these early-stage ventures to scale by providing them with visibility through a range of multimedia channels, access to international events and programming, and the opportunity to benefit from exposure to and connections with Forum initiatives and partners.

About UpLink

UpLink is the open-innovation platform of the World Economic Forum, designed to unlock an “entrepreneur revolution” for people and the planet by supporting start-ups with innovative solutions for the world’s most pressing issues, as outlined by the Sustainable Development Goals. Together with its partners, UpLink develops and launches Innovation Challenges, to source, identify and scale up high-quality, purpose-driven start-ups around the world.

About Butlr

Spun out of the MIT Media Lab in 2019 with offices in Silicon Valley and Boston, Butlr was founded by Forbes 30 Under 30 entrepreneurs Honghao Deng and Jiani Zeng with a mission to make the built environment people-aware. The company’s award-winning people sensing platform uses body heat and machine learning to detect occupancy, headcount and activity, and generate accurate, real-time and historical spatial insights while being incapable of collecting personally identifiable information. Butlr’s patented technology architecture makes for easy deployment in minutes with a low total cost of ownership. Commercial real estate, senior living facilities and insurance providers rely on Butlr to drive better space utilization, optimize pricing, streamline operations, and improve the user experience. For more information,

Source: Butlr

Related Media