Interview with Shiraz Kapadia, CEO, Invixium
FindBiometrics President Peter O’Neill recently interviewed Shiraz Kapadia, CEO of Invixium. The conversation begins with an overview of the multimodal biometrics company’s history, touching on its problem solving focus and dedication to education. Kapadia then details Invixium’s impressive product lineup, including the “masterstroke” IXM TITAN which will be on display at the company’s booth (#6109) at ISC West in Las Vegas this week. Talk then turns to the verticals Invixium is pursuing including the industrial enterprise and custom smart home markets. The discussion concludes on the topic of Invixium’s entrance into the North American market, which is coinciding with its ISC West showing, ending with a call for biometric physical access in order to address the current data breach epidemic.
Read the full interview below:
Peter O’Neill, President, FindBiometrics: You and I have known each other for quite some time but please tell our readers about the background of your company?
Shiraz Kapadia, CEO, Invixium: Thank you Peter for this opportunity and yes you are so correct. I remember the last time we spoke was for a similar FindBiometrics interview when I was the Chief Operating Officer heading up Bioscrypt. After spending 12+ years at Bioscrypt, I left with a lot of positive experiences and above all, I had acquired a long list of what not to do: the mistakes, the challenges and the screw ups that had taken place primarily in the access control space using biometrics. I founded Invixium in 2012 with a team of biometric professionals to breathe fresh air and modernize an antiquated industry where products looked ugly, used old technology, were expensive and proprietary. It was nobody’s fault; the challenges were so high, the privacy concerns were high; the biometric access control space had come to a standstill and people didn’t want to use biometrics as they were still comfortable with cards, despite security flaws associated with cards. The adoption just wasn’t there. I felt that with the right focus, on things like biometric education and design for aesthetics and customizations, the industry could turn around. We went to work right away to create our product portfolio. I was aware of what other players were doing but did not concern too much about competing with them. I was most interested in solving the problems and breaking down the challenges; figuring out what integrators are looking for, what installers are looking for and most of all, what end users expect from a biometric device installed outside of their enterprise, industry, home or office. How to satisfy and possibly exceed expectations of all these stakeholders? We did a lot of analysis and we concluded that building a long catalog of product SKUs was not the answer, trying to build a product with a ‘one size fits all’ approach was also not the answer.
First and foremost, our products had to look beautiful. Secondly, our products had to be tremendously easy to use for integrators, installers and end users and also application oriented. We wanted to make products for specific applications like: outdoor deployments, indoor installation, time tracking with touch screen and Gorilla Glass, and multimodal for a variety of application needs. The third aspect is education. We focused continually on educating the market even though we were just a start-up. We were busy developing our products, but we did not stop educating. We did not stop ‘blowing the bugle’ that biometrics is the only technology that proves you are who you say you are. Passwords, fobs and PINs are going to stay but nothing can compete when it comes to the security and convenience of using biometrics for physical access control or any authentication for that matter.
FB: I think it is wonderful you focus on education; that came out as a critical area in our Year in Review. Tell us about your product lineup please?
Invixium: We have a diverse portfolio of products with a total of 5 models. IXM MERGE is our economy model, but not by skimping on quality. Using smart engineering, we developed this product which is now being sold all over the world and has become one of our most popular products given the balance of features and cost. IXM MYCRO is our biometric workhorse, ideal for all basic access control applications. IXM SENSE incorporates a multispectral imaging sensor from Lumidigm, now HID, making it very suitable for deployments in an outdoor harsh environment. IXM TOUCH includes a touchscreen LCD with protective Gorilla Glass. The LCD menu can be used to change configuration settings or even enroll users directly from the device and can also be used for time & attendance with programmable function keys. This device also comes with an integrated camera and audio, useful for video intercom and to capture still shots.
And launching at ISC West is IXM TITAN – the most advanced multimodal biometric product ever engineered. It incorporates facial recognition, finger vein recognition from Hitachi, two different types of fingerprint sensors: an FBI-certified sensor from SecuGen and the multispectral Venus from Lumidigm (HID). It’s IP67 and IK10 compliant, it has a beautiful aluminum enclosure and stunning 5.0” HD resolution LCD. I like to say that it has the elegance of ‘the Beauty’, but also the ruggedness of ‘the Beast’. When it comes to high-throughput applications, it allows approximately 15-18 people through a turnstile per minute. TITAN is our master stroke! Finally, our products are manufactured in Canada and this, we feel, is what helps differentiate our brand from others.
FB: I think that leads well into my next question and I can’t wait to see your new product that you mentioned at ISC West when I come to visit you there in Las Vegas. What differentiates you from other products on the market? I think you may have alluded to one, being that they are made in Canada.
Invixium: Made in Canada is one, and second is design. Up to a few years ago, it was okay for biometric products to be ugly because they are associated with security products and security products don’t have to look good. It’s not the case anymore. Business owners spend millions on interior design and styling for their offices, and then have to settle on selecting from a list of bulky, industrial looking biometric devices for their doors? We have dedicated an enormous amount of attention to the design of our products. We get endorsements daily from people telling us that our products and packaging is similar to an Apple iPhone. We get associated with Apple all the time, which is a big compliment for us because Apple is iconic when it comes to design and usability. Hence, design is a very big differentiator for us. But it’s not all about the products. In today’s times, service plays a very big role in the success of any company. At the early stages, we developed a culture of delivering the best customer experience. Every company claims this, but we know there is a void in the market when it comes to being responsive in a timely manner. We also differentiate by offering product customizations as a service. We have a dedicated customization team and we actively promote customizations because we don’t believe that the ‘one size fits all’ model works. Essentially, we can and have already completed several customized solutions for customers all over the world. Our motto is, if nobody can solve this problem, then Invixium is willing, able and capable of customizing the products as per the needs of the customer.
FB: That is very wonderful to be known for that at this stage in your growth and I would like to add another thing that I think differentiates you, and that is that you have had, and you mentioned it earlier in one of your comments, you have had years of experience in the marketplace and you learn a lot during those successes and failures in the early days. So, to be able to build off that is a really wonderful asset. Can you tell us which vertical markets you are focusing on?
Invixium: Enterprises of all kinds – small, medium or large. Industries – heavy industries like mining or petrochemicals where biometrics has never been suitable before. Our products, given that they have IP65 or 67 ratings and are robust, have been quite successful in these industries with primary applications being time tracking of employees and access control. Biometrics is the best way to eliminate buddy punching. These are the traditional markets but because of our design and simplicity, the major brands in the luxury smart home and custom install market, like Control4 and Savant, have pulled in our products. They like them for security, but also for personalizing the home or office automation experience. When Invixium devices are integrated with an automation controller, users will have the ability to create different user profiles to command a host of peripherals like lighting, a/v systems, TV’s, IP cameras, thermostats, window shades and more. Invixium products are ideal for a variety of applications around the home or office including the front entrance, boardroom, inventory closet, wine cellar, library, art room, panic room, pool gate or guesthouse. We have sold to healthcare, finance, luxury homes, government deployments, airports and to industries like petrochemical, construction and seaports. And our focus to date has been Middle East, Africa and India because they are fast adopters of new technology and being a new business, we wanted to get early traction. We have deployed 11,000+ devices so far. Now that our product portfolio is complete, we decided to debut in North America…we are now ready. We have been in this market for the past year preparing our channel partners, completing our integrations with various access control manufacturers and we have some success stories to share. It is the perfect time and our excitement level is exploding because we are going to be at ISC West!
FB: So, let’s talk a little bit about ISC West – it is one of my favourite conferences every year and we have a special relationship with them around the biometric area. I know you will be there…what are you showing and maybe talk a little bit Shiraz, about some of the challenges facing the whole enterprise area as digital, mobile, physical access all come crashing together and for every single enterprise out there and how can biometrics help?
Invixium: A very good question. We will have our entire product line on display at booth #6109, including our original model launched back in 2014 right up to the brand new and most advanced IXM TITAN, which is generating a lot of buzz. We also submitted TITAN for the SIA New Product Showcase award so, wish us luck! We are very confident that this is a unique product and are very excited to promote it for the North America and global market at ISC West. We also plan to highlight Invixium as a new, but not so new brand. We will have the opportunity to tell our story and showcase our product design, elegance and robustness. We’ll have products under water, we’ll have demos for the audience to test our products and see how robust they are, we’ll have them in a sand chamber to demonstrate that even if your hands are dirty, the products will still work. We have made use of these live demos at other international tradeshows and found them to be very effective. With regards to the challenges that enterprises face, there is so much talk about cybersecurity theft and there is an enormous amount of focus on mitigating or dealing with those kinds of thefts. I respect and admire all the attention that has been given to cybersecurity and I am speaking on a panel at ISC West about the challenges being faced in work environments. If the data that is being presented by the different publications is true and I believe it is true, then 70-80% of cyber crimes or thefts are happening within the facilities, they are not happening remotely. It pains me to still see server rooms being secured with antiquated methods such as cards or PINs. They are all fine but are you going to have your server room, your data center not secured with biometrics knowing full well the security benefits of biometrics? What about connecting the various building management systems, either digital or physical security and tie everything together? Meaning, until you enter the door you won’t be able to log onto your computer on the server. In addition to this focus on cybersecurity, I feel that managers of enterprises, CIO’s and CEO’s should be asking questions on what more can be done to secure their physical infrastructure.
I think the first thing that enterprises should focus on is to secure their physical infrastructure. Productivity and time checking and everything else will come after that. If 70-80% of the threats are happening from inside the facilities, whether it is an external or internal door, securing the premises will cut down a good percentage of those threats, maybe 40-50% right off the bat.
FB: Shiraz thank you so much and I really look forward to seeing your products, especially the TITAN, at your booth at the ISC West show. Thank you again for carving out some time to speak with us today.
Invixium: You are most welcome Peter, it was indeed a pleasure and I look forward to connecting with you at ISC West.