AxonX gets on the A-list

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

BALTIMORE, Md.--AxonX, a start-up company that develops fire detection hardware and software, secured $2 million in funding from Johnson Controls late last year.
The funding will propel AxonX further into the marketplace as AxonX fuses its technology with Johnson Controls for a year, licensing its software to Johnson Controls while retaining the right to sell its hardware to other customers, said Mac Mottley, chief executive officer at AxonX.
The investment positions Johnson Controls to provide new analytics tools in the fire and smoke detection market, which has been technologically stagnant. "Here's an opportunity to grab on to a technology that provides a unique solution that can give a quicker response to emergency situations," said Don Albinger, vice president of safety and security product solutions at Johnson Controls.
Albinger said the company receives many requests to use third-party technology, and more often than not the smaller companies are actively developing a specific technology, which is the reason for bundling AxonX's fire and smoke detection solution into its own.
With the funding, AxonX plans to add four more employees in the first quarter, focus on additional product development and secure approvals from Underwriters Laboratories in the fire safety and detection devices arena.
As a start-up company, founded in 2002, it was understood that "one of the things we had to do is find a strategic partner," Mottley said. "Johnson Controls is a large fire safety integrator, which fits with what we are doing."
For Johnson Controls the investment made sense. "Our mantra to the industry is that we are the integrator of many different sub-systems inside of the building," Albinger said.
"We will have smoke and fire detection that are standalone as well as integrated into the full suite of Johnson controls offerings," he added.
Now that it is cost effective for cameras to be much more intelligent, video analytics has gained speed in the market. "One of the things we feel is the real value is fire detection." Mottley added, "Fire is not smart, it just gets bigger. Analytics provides early warning fire detection."
The company's signature product, SigniFire, developed by Russian owner George Privalov, applies four algorithms that detect fire. The system analyzes live video images through security surveillance cameras.
AxonX will target the fire detection market with an emphasis on large volume structures, such as warehouses. Already the company has five pilot launches in commercial sectors dotted throughout North America.