Evolv raises $18 million for body scanners that don’t cause long lines at security

Small venues that don’t have the resources of the TSA are looking to keep people safe at a time when attacks are on the rise. A startup called Evolv Technology Inc. has raised $18 million to help venues with even a limited budget use advanced technology rather than pat-downs to detect and prevent mass casualties.

Investors in Evolv’s new round of funding included General Catalyst, Lux Capital, Gates Ventures and Data Collective.

The Waltham, Mass.-based startup has created both hardware and software for physical security. Its Evolv Edge system includes a security gate about five feet tall, which can conduct rapid body scans of people who pass through without requiring them to stop or slow down. The startup’s proprietary, millimeter wave imaging sensor enables the system to detect “anomalies” on a person, like a bomb or firearms that they may be trying to carry into a venue.

The Evolv Edge basically does what the body scanners in an airport do, but much faster. The gates can scan 600 people per hour, the company claims.

Evolv’s systems also work in conjunction with cameras and facial recognition software to identify people entering a venue and check them against relevant databases. If a person is not permitted to be in a building, or if they have a concerning criminal record, Evolv alerts human security guards so they can investigate further.

Evolv CEO Michael Ellonbogen said, “I think we need to change our entire take on physical security and knit it into the flow of our daily lives. We can’t tolerate the new normal of attacks that happen seemingly at random in all the places we go and expect to be safe. Neither can we tolerate a reaction to that which is throwing thousands of troops or police on the streets, and plugging up the doorway of every iconic building or venue around the world trying to make them safe.”

The company is already working with a range of clients, including sports and entertainment venues, travel and transportation hubs and other commercial facilities, the CEO said. He did not have permission to name clients.

Lux Capital’s Bilal Zuberi, an investor in Evolv, lauded the industry expertise in the startup’s operational team and advisory board. Advisors to Evolv include people who worked in leadership roles with the Department of Homeland Security, New York Police Department, FBI and TSA, among others. Investors expect the company to use its capital for hiring, scaling to work with more venues and organizations and for continued research and development.

Zuberi said, “It’s an unfortunate trend, but physical security is morphing and the problem is worsening. So there is room for a new entrant to solve problems with technology. Evolv embeds sensors in the environment, applies machine learning and artificial intelligence to help us understand what’s happening. Is there someone who should not be here? The idea is to provide early detection of threats without false alarms, and without interrupting people’s normal work flow. We should be able to simply walk through and know we are safe.”