Earlier last week I was contacted by my friend Asa, the founder of a company called BEYONDgear. He wanted to know if I was going to be attending the BEYOND Adventure Speaker Series (BASS) on Monday, August 5th and if I wanted to photograph the event. I had already blocked off my calendar for the evening in order to attend the event. I absolutely love this particular Speaker Series because all of the speakers have been incredibly inspiring and I can genuinely learn something unique from each of them. BASS events usually happen in Boulder, Colorado, on the first Monday of every month and have included speakers such as Tommy Caldwell, Majka Burhardt, Josh Wharton and Dylon Johnson, and entrepreneurial companies such as SkySight.
Last Monday entrepreneurs, Shay (pronounced Shy) Har-Noy and Nate Ricklin, joined BASS in order to talk about their company, Tomnod. There are a total of five people on their team, but only Shay and Nate were there for BASS; you can view the rest of the team here. I was excited about the talk, but nervous about the photography aspect of it. I rarely, rarely shoot indoor photography and therefore it happens to be one of my major weaknesses behind the lens. Nevertheless, I was down for the challenge.
The talk began with short video clips portraying an introduction from adventurers of UC-San Diego and National Geographic in 2009-2011, who set out for Mongolia in search of the lost tomb of Genghis Khan. In order to aid in the scouring of the thousands of miles of Mongolian countryside, the team “asked people interested in helping with their quest to analyze satellite images in an effort to determine where best to look for the tomb”. Did they actually find the tomb? Find out the answer and follow their adventure through Mongolia’s forbidden zones and having tea with guards here. Seriously, check it out; the documentary is phenomenal. Besides, don’t you want to discover if the lost tomb of Khan was actually found?
After their adventure in Mongolia with National Geographic, Shay and Nate came back to the United States and launched a satellite imagery crowd-sourcing platform that they called Tomnod. Basically, these two techies figured out a way to use computer vision, crowd-sourcing, and satellites in order to problem solve. They demonstrated this technology by showing one of their first major efforts: to Find Gil and Ben who did not returned on time from their attempt at a new route on the South face of Palcaraju Oeste in Peru.
Unfortunately, the bodies of Gil and Ben were found on July 28, 2012. However, Tomnod realized they were on to something. They could use this technology in order to truly help people in a multitude of scenarios around the world: search and rescue, finding people/boats lost at sea, or even mapping the disaster zones caused by the tornadoes in Oklahoma. Literally, the possibilities seem endless.
As Tomnod has gained recognition, a great opportunity presented itself recently – Digital Globe. During the talk, Shay and Nate discussed their hard decision to sell their successful company and their “baby” to this publicly traded, Colorado-based company. Tomnod now has a place in Digital Globe’s office in Boulder, Colorado, and is rapidly shifting from a small company into a larger company that can process all of their requests more efficiently.
So what’s Tomnod up to now? In addition to continually seeking how to expand and deepen their information pool and gain their footing in their new location at Digital Globe, they are currently assisting in the search for the lost Nina schooner that embarked on a trip to Australia. The last known contact with Nina was on June 4, 2013. What to help and check out how Tomnod works? Start tagging today and rescue the Nina.
Also, you can view the previous BEYONDtalks by clicking the hyperlink. The networking and endlessly awesome possibilities that happen at these events continue to amazing me. I always enjoy and make a point to attend BASS because I can always learn so much about the world around me.
The next BASS will feature Peter Mortimer and Sender Films at the Patagonia Store on September 9th. See you there!
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