Intel purchases Toronto startup Cognovision for $30 million

StartupNorth is reporting that Toronto’s Cognovision, which produces software using hidden to cameras to monitor how and if store patrons look at in-store product displays, has been acquired by Intel for $30 million.

From StartupNorth:

Cognovision was the winner of the CIX pitch competition last year.

I have to admit that when I first heard the Cognovision pitch, it felt holodeck cool. It also seemed “too good to be true” — Turns out I was wrong and the company shot to ~$1m in revenue pretty quickly. Using a camera on top of a digital display, Cognovision could give you some rough estimates that covered:

  • Actual Impressions – The number of people who look at your displays
  • Length of Impressions – How long people look for
  • Potential Audience Size – The number of people who walk by
  • Dwell Time – How long people stay near your displays
  • Anonymous Demographics – Demographics of your audience (gender and age bracket)

Initial reports said that $17 million was the price tag, but StartupNorth later updated the price to $30 million.

DailyDOOH also covered the story, and they’ve been speculating about why Intel bought the Toronto company:

So why did Intel buy Cognovision? Well, Cognovision is / was a dog of an application; MIPS- consuming or MIPS-hungry as we used to call it when I was at Intel in the late 90′s and so Intel probably think that this might be a good way to try and sell a few more Intel® Core™ i5 and Intel® Core™ i7 Processors. Cognovision has some decent technology and are heavily pushing some newer retail (non-Digital Signage) solutions so it will be interesting to see if with a new owner they manage to make more of a splash than they have done up til’ now.

For a “dog” of an application, it seems like Intel saw some value in it. The system sounds pretty innovative, and it could really be useful not only for in-store displays, but also for booths at conventions.

Stay tuned for an official announcement from Intel about the acquisition, which should come around the start of 2011.