Twice in Sept., the winner is: axonX

Fire analytics company wins technology award, gets $70K grant
Wednesday, November 1, 2006

SPARKS, Md.--September was a good month for fire analytics manufacturer axonX. The company won a grant to study its technology and a blue ribbon in the Wall Street Journal's 2006 Technology Innovation Awards, Security (Facilities) category.
"We were really surprised," said axonX CEO Mac Mottley. "We thought we may get some recognition, but to win a whole sector from all the security technology that's out there is pretty incredible."
Mottley said axonX was one of 600 entries. He missed a call on Sept. 10, the night before the winners were announced, and only learned of the award from vice president of finance and operations Dave Karczeski who read about it in the Journal.
Mottley said the award further validates axonX's technology, which uses algorithms to detect smoke and fire from standard DVR video footage. The technology will soon be FM listed and earlier this summer was recognized under NFPA 72.
"Here's an application that makes real-world sense right now," he said, "and that you can install in your facility today."
More validation, Mottley said, came in the form of a $70,000 Maryland Industrial Partnership grant that will enable University of Maryland professor Dr. Jim Milke, whom Mottley refers to as a fire detection guru, to conduct research on Signifire, axonX's flagship product. Milke in September completed a plan for the study, which will likely be completed in the middle of next summer.
The grant is designed to "further develop the technology to improve axonX's abilty to market it and make money as a state industry," Milke explained.
In the first phase, Milke will set up a setting that resembles a college dorm or group of small offices, a group of small rooms separated by a small corridor. Then he'll start small fires with a variety of sources in this setting.
"We want to see how quickly the system can detect the fire. The key measure will be detection time," Milke said. There will also be a traditional smoke detector in the room for comparison.
Milke will "challenge the algorithms of the system" by putting an obstruction between the camera and the fire to see if it can detect the rising smoke column or the reflection of the flickering flame on the wall.
He'll also try to fake out the system by, for example, shining a bright light that may look like a flame, or detonating an aerosol cloud that may be mistaken for smoke.
"All systems have limits, we'll try to help this company find out if and where this system's limits are to help us better understand or perhaps improve the product," he said.
The University of Maryland is one of two in the country with a fire protection engineering degree program.
Maryland has an undergraduate and graduate degree program. Milke heads up the undergraduate program.