Ever the trend-setter, Amazon (AMZN) made headlines last week when it was reported that the company has begun setting up thermal cameras at its warehouses, the better to monitor its employees’ health — and specifically, whether they have the kind of high temperatures suggestive of infection with the SARS-CoV-19 novel coronavirus.
Investors quickly flocked to purchase shares of the leading and best-known thermal camera maker — FLIR Systems. But this week, we learned that a significantly less-known thermal vision company is aiming to steal of bit of FLIR’s market share, and make workplaces safer for employees and customers alike in the process.
Creative Realities (CREX) is the company in question, and if you’ve never heard of it, don’t be embarrassed. Most people haven’t.
Creative Realities, you see, is only a microcap stock, and almost entirely unfollowed on Wall Street. The one analyst we do know who does cover it, moreover — Benchmark analyst Bill Sutherland — gives the company short shrift. Back in March, Sutherland downgraded the stock from “buy” to “hold,” unimpressed with the company’s Q4 sales growth (16%) and predicting a decline in revenues in 2020 because of “the impact of coronavirus.” That appears to have been a 180-degree wrong call. (You may want to check Sutherland’s track record on TipRanks)
On Tuesday, Creative Realities stock suddenly quadrupled in value — because investors think coronavirus will be a catalyst for this company’s business, and not an obstacle.
Which brings us to the news.
On Tuesday, Creative Realities announced that it has begun marketing its “Safe Space Solutions” product as “a turnkey, plug-and-play solution that addresses the urgent need for businesses and employers to build consumer and employee confidence as the world goes back to work as stay-at-home orders are reduced or relieved throughout the United States.”
The product, now rebranded “Thermal Mirror,” consists of a “non-contact temperature inspection ‘station’.” Essentially, this is a tablet computer on a stand, equipped with software and sensors that enable it to take a user’s temperature from a short distance away (so “non-contact”), and then display the results on the screen with an accuracy of plus or minus half a degree Celsius.
Thermal Mirror’s artificial intelligence software also enables the device to automatically recognize a user’s “face,” so as to know when to begin taking temperatures, and to wirelessly pass the results of temperatures it takes along to the business where it is installed in the form of “daily reports, trending, and alerts.” With the help of cloud computing, this should permit management to quickly take appropriate actions — such as, for example, excluding a high-risk customer from the premises or sending an employee with a high temperature home until the temperature normalizes.
Creative Solutions CEO Rick Mills believes the Thermal Mirror device “is an ideal solution” to help businesses keep their workers, and their customers safe from exposure to the novel coronavirus, while its AI “analytics … help our clients meet their operational, compliance and HR requirements.” The company did not disclose a price for the product, but the implication is that it will be less than the “$5,000 [to] $20,000” unit cost of other companies’ thermal scanning solutions — prices Creative Solutions criticizes as “cost prohibitive for use at scale.”
Whether it can do this and also generate enough revenue for Creative Solutions to justify a quadrupling in the stock’s share price remains to be seen.
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