St. Louis Airport Security Company Relocates to N.Va.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Washington area may be developing a niche in high-tech video surveillance for the homeland security and commercial markets.

Ipix Corp. of Reston specializes in 360-degree photos and video. ObjectVideo Inc., also based in Reston, provides software that sorts through images captured by cameras at facilities such as airports and chemical plants. It was started by former employees of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and is run by veteran local tech executive Raul J. Fernandez.

Now, a competitor is arriving. Cernium Inc. plans to announce today that it is relocating its headquarters from St. Louis to Northern Virginia. "This is where the federal government has got the most visibility with this kind of technology," said Craig A. Chambers, who signed on as the company's new president and chief executive. "And the access to talent is phenomenal."

The company has set up shop temporarily in Alexandria and is looking for a permanent location in Northern Virginia. Production and research operations will remain in St. Louis.

The privately held company also said it has raised $7.5 million in new funding, bringing its total to $15 million.

Chambers, a former executive with research firm SRI International, said Cernium is expanding beyond its original market, which was providing airports with software that alerts security when someone tries to go the wrong way through the exits from gate areas.

He said the company's software is more efficient than that of rivals in processing video streams because it "makes some early-on decisions on what is background and what are objects moving against that background." The company said its product can zero in on images such as a fallen person or an abandoned backpack.

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