Athena CEO Criticizes 'Deplorable' 'Nitpicking', IPVM RefutesBy: John Honovich, Published on Mar 27, 2020
Falzone told PCMag that:
We find it deplorable, possibly orchestrated by competitive motives, that anyone would manufacture a 'hit job' of this nature while we're doing our best
What was deplorable was evidently not that Athena Security ran a faked thermal fever detection display on their website for 2 weeks:
The deplorable action was IPVM reporting it.
Athena shrugged off responsibility for this, telling Fast Company that:
Athena says the misrepresentations are the work of a third-party web marketing company that it has now fired.
Nonetheless, Athena is clearly responsible for claims that it publishes and markets on its own website.
However, Athena's CEO dismissed IPVM's concerns to us as a "nitpicking of marketing approach". But the FTC's Truth in Advertising guidelines surely views such deception as more than that.
Thermal Camera Choice
Athena's CEO also complained about IPVM's nitpicking on what thermal cameras they use, saying:
We work with many manufactures like I said so if I give you the Asian manufacture as I don’t want it to get nit picked and pigeon holed bc we might not stay with that vendor - we are a software vendor and don’t care which hardware As we can use any camera. [emphasis added]
And in another message, said:
We specified an NDAA compliant private-labeled supplier in China.
The thermal camera chosen is absolutely critical to the performance of fever detection systems. 99%+ of thermal cameras are absolutely incapable of even trying to do fever detection as they do not have anywhere near close to the precision needed for detecting subtle differences such as a person with a temperature of 37°C vs 38°C.
In the midst of this, Athena's President Michael Green attempted to prove the quality of their offering by declaring:
Hardware is critical, so we realize how important temperature/accuracy range is. We have bought a wide variety of cameras for testing. FLIR high sensitivity camera Invoice, below.
The invoice, excerpted below, is for a FLIR FC-644-ID-N:
That camera cannot even attempt to do temperature / fever detection. Indeed, it is marketed as a "security camera for perimeter protection". Athena should be an expert in thermal cameras but they cannot even read a website?
FLIR confirmed the obvious, saying to IPVM that:
The FLIR FC-644-ID is not part of our 510k certification. It is also not a radiometric camera and does not support the FLIR temperature screening mode feature.
This product is not radiometrically temperature calibrated for absolute temperature measurement. We recommend cameras that have radiometry be used for elevated body temperature screening.
This is a serious, serious problem, showing the lack of expertise that Athena has in this core component of their fever detection system.
Athena CEO Responds
Athena's CEO ignored our feedback about that FLIR model's problem; Instead, extending this offer:
I have ways and could create more viewers for you and more members in the long run if we could just work together nicely. I am happy to discuss this with you.
We are not interested in this. We pursue truth and justice, not deals with companies to cover up issues.
If I really wanted to make lots of money, I would put up a website and sell fever detection systems in the midst of a crisis. As Athena's CEO told Forbes last week, "We have a pipeline and orders of tens of thousands of cameras just within the last several days"
Or I could offer crisis communications PR services and make big money bailing out companies like Athena.
Enter a "Nationally Recognized Expert in Crisis and Public Affairs"
I enable some of the world’s leading companies, organizations and individuals to recover quickly from crises through strategic management of their public affairs and communications.
Kasselman tells IPVM that:
I help Athena with communications and Lisa and Michael asked me to get back to you regarding your story.
Note that the invoice sent to you yesterday detailing a purchase with RHP International as an example, was in error and does not reflect the cameras currently in use for the Fever Detection System. Rather that invoice, from November of last year and before the launch of our new products, is for the Gun Detection System. As you know, the Fever Detection System and Gun Detection Systems are separate products.
Should you have additional questions for Athena, please direct them to me.
How many errors does this company make day after day? They cannot give a straight answer to the fundamental question of what thermal cameras they actually use.
Now, they are saying they use, e.g., the FLIR A320 Tempscreen but that's a $10,000+ camera while Athena had been selling their system for $8,900. So they are losing thousands of dollars on every sale? And that FLIR model does temperature scanning and alerting so why would one then use Athena?
Athena Security Be Warned
Athena Security's execs may be good people, they may be bad people. But when it comes to knowing the basics of the fever detection solution they are selling, they continue to demonstrate profound incompetence.
If you are considering buying such a "coronavirus" detector, whether from them or anyone in the midst of this crisis, please be cautious. It is hard. People's lives and businesses are at risk so there is a lot of pressure to do something, anything, at whatever the cost. But beware such solutions causing more problems.