Intel buys smart sign firm CognoVision

Intel has bought digital signage company CognoVision in an effort to take advantage of what it believes will be a quickly expanding smart sign market.

CognoVision is a start-up company based in Toronto, Canada. It makes anonymous face detection and people tracking software that gathers data on how people watch ads and how they move around stores, using small camera sensors and computers in signs and other places.

The technology allows signs to adapt to the user depending on their age, for example. It monitors how long a person looks at an advertisement, allowing more targetted ads, and can change if people show that they are losing interest.

“It’s an area where for not a lot of money you can really pick up some of the leading companies that turbo charge you into this segment,” said Paul Otellini, CEO of Intel at the Intel Capital CEO Summit in California. “Home energy management would be another one, and that’s where we’re bringing people portfolio investments and selective acquisitions.”

Intel has been a CognoVision partner for some time, with its processors powering CognoVision’s applications since July 2009.

The deal apparently closed in September, but Intel has been tight-lipped about it until today. It plans to capitalise on an emerging smart sign market by ensuring that its Atom processors are the primary processing power behind the displays and computers used in CognoVision’s technology.

Financial details of the acquisition were not revealed, but given Intel’s statements and the fact that CognoVision is a start-up, we imagine it was on the lower scale of payments.