Hot Topics In The Mobile Computing Industry
Smart SOS - RFID and
Smart Consumer & Industrial Devices
visionaries like Microsoft's Bill Gates and Sun's McNealy were
predicting emergence of smart appliances and industrial devices.
While consumer devices sending out SOS alerts when it starts
malfunctioning sounds very exciting, industrial devices like
industrial refrigeration equipment have been monitored in this
manner for some time - in fact, for the past 10-15 years. Perhaps
the technology used in these installations was custom designed,
expensive and older. Now that we have inexpensive standard embedded
controllers, RFID chips, "somewhat pervasive" wireless
networks, and commonly-available alerting software, we can start
thinking of more industrial machines and appliances monitored this
way. If a retail kiosk can send out replenishment
requests through the wireless Internet to company's warehouse, it is
equally possible to use same technology to send out SOS messages
from appliances and equipment.
What is happening now is
that cost of these components is coming down drastically. Certainly
in the case of big-ticket industrial and commercial products, it is
feasible to implement alerting technology. Examples of this type of
equipment are industrial air-conditioners, factory floor freezing
tunnels, office copiers, espresso vending machines.
How Does It work?
Graphic - eWeek Magazine
sensors that measure temperature or malfunctioning of the
or microprocessor to which sensors feed information regularly
RTOS (Real-time OS)
Fixed Line Internet
or wireless Internet connection
Business Case - Costs
At present, you can
justify this only for expensive equipment or wherever support
costs are high and outage costs are high because of lack of service
A typical eMation
deployment currently costs between 250,000 and 350,000 for
server licensing, while a Questra deployment costs $150,000 and
up. MobileInfo expects these costs to come down very soon -
dropping to half in two years.
estimates costs for its ComfortLink service at $250 (small retailer)
to $600 (large retailer) on per month basis.
Status of Technology
( in late 2001)
Common Devices Being Monitored & Vendors
Lair Liquide SA - A
gas supplier in Paris is using this technology for industrial
freezing tunnels - using eMation Inc.'s of MA, USA Device
relationship software. The company monitors equipment at over
10,000 customer sites, according to eWeek's report. It uses
telephone network (PSTN) presently. The company intends to
connect these machines to customers LAN infrastructure and then
access that information.
Office equipment -
HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning)
- implemented Comfort Link for its customers - monitoring
about 6000 customers.
eDevice Inc. of New
Source - eWeek of
October 22, 2001