Research Foundation News

December 6, 2016

Purdue graduates developing user-friendly, cost-effective retail analytics software

perceive camera Perceive Inc. co-founders from left, Kyle McNulty and Everett Berry pose with company adviser Yung-Hsiang Lu, an associate professor in Purdue’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and two other team members, Andrew Blejde and Sheik Dawood. Perceive is developing a user-friendly, cost-effective camera and analytics software system designed for brick and mortar retail operations. (Perceive Image) Download image

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Two recent Purdue graduates are developing a user-friendly, cost-effective camera and software system designed for brick and mortar retail operations. The system could allow retailers to understand more about their customers, formulate better marketing strategies for their stores, and increase sales performance.

Everett Berry and Kyle McNulty, graduates of Purdue’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, have founded Perceive Inc., a retail analytics software company, to further develop the technology.

Berry and McNulty met as undergraduates while doing research under Yung-Hsiang Lu, an associate professor in Purdue’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Along with graduate student Andrew Blejde, the team of four recognized a need for advanced, price-conscious retail analytics software.

“Although it seems like online shopping is slowly becoming the norm, 93 percent of retail shopping is still done in stores,” Berry said. “We talked to over 100 people in the retail space and found that there is a major need for software that can help retailers improve brick and mortar store operations and the work environment.”

Perceive is utilizing a $225,000 SBIR grant from the National Science Foundation to fund research and development of the software and hardware behind their product.

The company’s cameras can be shipped to retail stores where store associates can easily install the devices. Perceive is focused on minimizing the cost and time it takes to install an analytics system, to de-risk trial periods for retailers and to make advanced analytics more affordable for smaller retail chains. 

“The cameras recognize people, actions, objects, and how the scene is working,” McNulty said. “It then transmits information back to our software where we extract around 10 metrics, including the navigation path of a customer through a store, the most popular locations, and how long people are dwelling at displays.”

The end result is displayed as a report, where retailers can analyze the data and make adjustments to their marketing and operations accordingly.

“Our software uses modern deep learning techniques that can understand more complex actions. It is able to analyze metrics over a long period of time and at a more specific level,” Berry said. “In addition to brick and mortar retail, our software could also be used in factories and other environments. It could recognize potentially dangerous actions or safety protocol violations and alert individuals to what is happening.”

Perceive is installing its system in two pilot retailers and continuing to develop a prototype with chief engineer Sheik Dawood.

“We are running as many pilots as we can to build examples of how our system could be beneficial,” McNulty said.

The company also is receiving help from the Purdue Foundry, a startup accelerator in Discovery Park’s Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship. The company is based out of the Anvil, a student-run entrepreneurship co-working space at Purdue University.

Perceive is in Phase I of their SBIR grant, and plans to apply for Phase II in the near future. For more information, contact McNulty at kmcnulty@perceiveinc.com.

About Purdue Foundry

The Purdue Foundry is an entrepreneurship and commercialization accelerator in Discovery Park's Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship whose professionals help Purdue innovators create startups. Managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, the Purdue Foundry received the 2014 Incubator Network of the Year by the National Business Incubation Association for its work in entrepreneurship. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at foundry@prf.org

About the Anvil

The Anvil is a co-working space at Purdue University that serves the unique needs of student and community entrepreneurs, acting as a center of creative culture in West Lafayette. The Anvil focuses on providing local and student run startups affordable office space. 

Writer: Ellen Teske, emteske@prf.org

Purdue Research Foundation contact: Hillary Henry, 765-588-3586, hkhenry@prf.org 

Source: Kyle McNulty, 908-528-7183,  kmcnulty@perceiveinc.com


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