Cernium releases consumer-targeted analytics product

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

RESTON, Va.—Video analytics product manufacturer Cernium announced this week that its Archerfish product is now available for sale through Audio Video Warehouse, Bay Distributing and Shifting Sands Stereo Distributing, all regional distributors of consumer electronics specialty products. Archerfish is being billed as the first “mobile video intelligence solution,” and is being targeted toward high-end homeowners and small business owners.

Dealers would sell a package of video cameras, an Archerfish SmartBox (the analytics-fueled appliance), and access to the Archerfish SmartPortal (a Web site), which would allow consumers to watch one or more locations for specific, user-defined situations, like a child coming home from school, an intruder entering, or an elderly person simply moving around.

The product debuted at the January Consumer Electronics Show.

Cernium CEO Craig Chambers said the choice of distributors and where to debut the product was deliberate: “Archerfish is not a security product ... You can use it for security, but you can also use it for finding out when the office is open, when grandma got up this morning, or just anything that’s going on that you’d like to know about.” He said a sales engineer trying the product out used it to tell him when a package of cigars was delivered to his house while he was on vacation in Hawaii.

So, does Cernium think labeling something a “security product” is a negative? “I don’t know if it’s a negative,” Chambers said, “but it’s certainly a limitation. Then it gets categorized with other applications that are handled by the ADTs of the world, and we want it to be used for much more than that.” He also said there are liability issues associated with billing it as a “security product.”

Patrick Boyer, general manager of Audio Video Warehouse, said he decided to carry the product, alongside other high-end consumer electronic lines, because “we did some preliminary polling of our customers to gauge their interest, and there was certainly interest in the product.”

“I think that the traditional DVR products out there are pretty stale,” said Boyer.

Boyer said about 50 percent of his customers install security systems of some kind, but even for the pure AV installers, “between high-end residential security and light commercial—those are the markets we think [Archerfish is] a great fit for.”

Chambers said the agreement with the distributors is just one way Archerfish will get to market. Cernium will also sell Archerfish through high-end electronics retailers, and is in talks with telecommunications and cable companies about selling the product as an add-on to broadband service, much like VoIP service or television DVRs.

“In the consumer electronics channel, [channel competition] is much less of an issue,” Chambers said, “and we’ve had those conversations—[the distributors] have a much more fluid relationship with their larger dealers, and there are ways of setting up those relationships to make sure they’re not cut out of the value chain ... there isn’t the taboo of, ‘Thou shalt not talk to my customer.’ In fact it’s encouraged.”