axonX flourishes under Fike

Now called Fike Video Image Detection, it has expanded to new markets worldwide and in the U.S.
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

SPARKS, Md.—Since being acquired by Fike nearly three years ago, axonX, a video smoke detection company that now does business as Fike Video Image Detection, has gained access to markets all over the world and expanded into new verticals here at home, according to General Manager Mac Mottley.

He said growth in 2011 was up about 70 percent over 2010.

 “We started out in industrial plants and energy plants,” he told Security Systems News. But now, he said, “we’re moving into more of a commercial [and institutional] space application.”

For example, he said, Fike SigniFire IP video smoke detection cameras are in a new football field house and a chapel at Duke University in Durham, N.C.

Mottley formerly was CEO of axonX, based here. The company was acquired in May 2009 by Fike, an industrial and commercial safety solutions provider which at the time was relatively new to the general fire market. The axonX division now develops the software systems for SigniFire cameras, which detect smoke much earlier than conventional smoke detectors, he said.

With a standard photoelectric or ionization smoke detector on a ceiling, Mottley said, smoke has to get up to the ceiling and “actually go into a detector in order to trigger the mechanism.”

“Whereas with our technology,” he said, “we use security cameras with embedded analytics so we look out at a total space, the total volume, and we can start to track smoke anywhere within the space. ... So we’re just like your eyes and brain, we can see the whole space, we don’t have to wait until it gets to your nose.”

Because the cameras can detect smoke originating as far as a couple hundred feet away, they’re ideal for large spaces, Mottley said.

For example, SigniFire cameras will go into a huge hangar in Britain that houses some of the planes used during the Battle of Britain in World War II.

The cameras also are going into a variety of projects in the Middle East, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and the Asia-Pacific region, Mottley said.

Fike has a global presence and “is giving us access to these worldwide markets,” he said. Fike also provides marketing assistance, he said.

At Duke University, Fred Knipper, director of the division of fire and life safety for the university and Duke Health System, told SSN that video smoke detection technology was chosen for several reasons.

For one, traditional optical smoke detectors have to be installed high in a building to be effective and can be hard to reach if they need repair, he said.

The beam detectors in a small auxiliary chapel on campus, which is about three stories high, were so inaccessible that when they went out of alignment “it was going to cost us $7,000 in scaffolding” just to adjust them, Knipper said. Instead, the university chose SigniFire as a solution.

Not only can SigniFire cameras be mounted lower—Mottley said they need to be only about 12 to 18 feet high—but they work better, Knipper said.

“You get a much faster response out of this than you do a traditional beam detector,” he said.

Eleven cameras have been installed in the 45,000-square-foot field house. Cameras also will be installed in the new 400,000-square-foot Duke Health System cancer center due to open in February and a 500,000-square-foot hospital addition due to open this summer, Knipper said.

Mottley said that in 2012, the goal of Fike Video Image Detection “is to do four times our revenue from last year.” He said the company plans to focus on international markets and add 10 to 20 trained SigniFire distributors to the 50 it already has in the United States.