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Animetrics starting to catch the curve

From the Union Leader Sunday News July 20th, 2008 By DENIS PAISTE New Hampshire Union Leader

BUOYED BY DEFENSE work and enriched by consumer applications of its facial recognition technology, Conway-based Animetrics is on a growth spurt.
Last year, Animetrics had over a million dollars in revenues and this year plans to double that. "We're starting to catch the curve now," president and CEO Paul Schuepp said during a recent interview at New Hampshire Union Leader offices.
"We raised $2 million as a series A preferred stock, and all the money that has carried us forward since then, we've managed to attain through fundings and projects, mostly from the federal government and the agencies that you might imagine are the early adopters," he said.
Animetrics' major customers have been Department of Defense contractors from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to the U.S. Army.
"Now, we have some great projects going on and that are becoming real for deployment, not just a pilot, for the U.S. Army," Schuepp, 57, said.
"We have been doing some work with the Army on making a 3-D (image) out of people on the watch list, and that's going to be accepted by the Army in fact and used in their intelligence systems," he said.
Five team members at Animetrics as well at its Conway offices have secret clearance.
"We get involved with imagery that's secret," he said, "The technology itself is not secret but the use of the data (is). Sometimes we have to look at data that comes fresh off the press, if you will, from in-theater, Iraq, or whatever." Schuepp said.
Animetrics' technology is focused on the recognizing faces even when you move your face left to right, up and down, and subjected to shadows and coloring.
"We can also normalize even expressions but when it comes to artifacts, a hat that covers half your face, or sunglasses that I can't see your eyes, there is not much we can do with that. That's a fact," he said. "So if you get plastic surgery and change the shape of your face, we can't see through that," Schuepp said. "We're basically looking at the outside photograph. We're not looking under the skin. We're looking on the outside, which will work in most cases, and will be a good filter.
"When you're looking for bad guys, you don't want to stop everybody, but you want to stop some that are suspicious, a close match to a watch list, and then our stuff's a good filter," he said.
The software that can quickly determine whether an individual is a match to someone on a terrorist watch list has found a happier use in consumer-oriented projects like a recently concluded deal with Korean virtual shopping firm iFashion.
"They're building a system where they capture an image of your body and turn it into a 3-D avatar, and then you can go shopping with it in the virtual world," Schuepp said.
"The whole virtual world of virtual face, of 3-D face, is a line of business that's distinct and separate from the main path we're on, which is face biometrics for security," he said.
With such growth potential, the 10-person firm expects to undertake a series B funding round toward the end of the year to raise additional capital.
"We managed to stay strong as we are with the government projects, and in fact, some of these projects, knock on artificial wood, " he said, knocking on a table, "could turn into something really big, could bring this to $5 million a year, but it's so hard to forecast that at this point."
About Animetrics
Animetrics Inc., headquartered in Conway, N.H., is a leading developer of 3D imaging for facial biometric systems. The Animetrics90 product family is based on the company’s core algorithms comprised of five patent-pending, 2D-to-3D face-creation technologies, allowing for pose and lighting invariant face recognition across a broad range of operating conditions. This breakthrough technology forms the basis for Animetrics next-generation three-dimensional facial recognition applications. Animetrics is driving market acceptance of facial recognition biometrics in government, homeland security and law enforcement applications. For more information visit http://www.animetrics.com


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