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I have recently come across a new phenomenon—a company that provides an application platform to exploit RFID and RTLS data. SenseIQ, founded in 2005, are headquartered in Sunnyvale in California. Version 3 was released at the end of March 2007. I spoke with Jatin Maniar, their CEO and President, who described their solution as a “location-intelligent asset visibility solution that bridges an enterprise’s information and physical worlds”.
The stack of RFID systems are finally defragmenting and maturing from single vendor integrated systems to more open architectures with hardware players, software players and system integrators. This should drive the enterprise-wide deployment with enterprise class software, falling hardware tags and reader infrastructure costs
“Its time for RFID systems to evolve from the mainframe era of expensive single vendor systems to 21st century multi-vendor open systems. Today, a customer focuses on their IT business needs and does not think twice before selecting a computer from Dell or HP. We believe customers should have the same freedom with their RFID systems without locking into any single vendor and continue to leverage the benefits of disruptive and cheaper hardware innovations as they look to invest and expand their deployments” said Jatin Maniar.
Called InSight, the platform supports multiple RFID and wireless data collection and location technologies operating within any middleware solution, and offers an easy-to-use powerful set of asset visibility and business activity monitoring tools. The platform includes the following tools:
- InSight Asset Location Engine
- InSight Asset Search Engine
- InSight Asset Provisioning and Lifecycle Manager
- InSight Business Process and Workflow Engine
- InSight Data Intelligence and Reporting Engine
- InSight Web Services Integration Interface
The platform has been developed on top of the Microsoft .NET platform but uses its own data format to handle all the movements between different data formats from interface collection devices using technology such as RFID and WiFi, for instance.
The InSight Platform lets organizations create a series of business rules and related actions (e.g., alerts, security access, system approval or denials, etc.) based on real-time asset visibility. For example:
- The system can instantaneously provide the location of any asset through an intuitive interface.
- The system can alert a manager when equipment or inventory is in the wrong location or has been idle too long.
- It can create a real-time audit trail for supply chain, product authentication or warranty and recall programs.
- It links assets to personnel and their location to ensure proper authorization and to reduce theft.
Jatin Maniar demonstrated the product to me and the features that I particularly noted were:
- A super Search Engine, that is driven by data input, allowed the user to search by location, and/or Zone type (common areas within a building or location like lobby) and/or asset type. It’s like Google for your physical world.
- Each asset has a pop-up window that describes the base control data and shows a picture of the object. This includes the tag identity(s) associated with the asset.
- The Business Rules definition was in business English, thus making this an easy to use tool for the business community. This definition is translated into the standard IF x THEN y ELSE z format. Rules can be defined to apply for given time/date stamps.
- People are treated like any other asset that needs to be tracked and traced.
- The Platform creates a meaningful “context” for that asset. The semantic context determines where, for what purpose, and how the asset is supposed to interact with other business, data and asset management systems.
- The solution works out of the box with no custom programming
The key benefits of the InSight platform are:
- Asset Lifecycle Management
- Business process and workflow management
- Support for On-premise and Managed Service Provider model
- Open, Scalable and Reliable web services based architecture
- Intuitive User Interface
- Intelligent Reporting and Analysis
- Support for various EPC, ISO, WiFi, GPS, Active, Passive and hybrid Sensor tag formats
“While other companies focus on single RFID hardware and software solutions to track assets, essentially basic real time asset tracking, our InSight Platform is designed from the ground up to complement those RFID systems and help customers support asset visibility and business process applications that dramatically increase their return on their RFID investments,” said Jatin Maniar, “In short, it’s not about tracking assets, it’s about using asset location information coupled with semantic context to drive smart decisions that make business sense”
If you are looking at asset tracking and visibility requirement that you want to be able to extend to handle across your facilities and more event based solutions, this looks like a product that should be on your review list. Its technology partners are world-class with Microsoft and Motorola being the big boys, but also including RF Code and Ubisense—2 innovators in the RFID/RTLS world.