AeroScout Plays Tag

By Ed Sutherland

December 13, 2004

The company has a revamped location engine that works with a new system for combining RFID, Wi-Fi and telemetry data gathering.

Anyone who has ever tried to locate his car in a crowded parking lot could use AeroScout's new Visibility System.

The San Mateo, Calif.-based company's wireless tracking system is being deployed in a 60-acre shipping yard. American Port Services of Savannah, Ga., plans to use the AeroScout Visibility System to track 1,000 trailers headed for the world's largest retailer, Walmart.

The new system replaces "a manual tracking process that used to take a full team of people and hours every day," said Ty Cobler, director of operations at APS.

About 20 AeroScout Location Receivers provide APS with full visibility of the 60 acre area. As trailers enter the facility, they are equipped with AeroScout's RFID tag. The tag allows the trailers to be tracked throughout the yard via Wi-Fi, allowing for easy loading and unloading.

The AeroScout Visibility System is a bundle of hardware and software built around the company's new AeroScout Engine 3.0. It has three separate location modes: real-time location for accurate positioning, presence mode for Active-RFID-style zone detection and choke-point detection for use in doors and gateways. The latter location mode works in tandem with AeroScout's Exciter RFID reader.

The new system was built to meet customer needs, including real-time asset location, vehicle telemetry, automated inventory and personnel tracking.

It "can meet all of those needs with a single infrastructure, bridging Wi-Fi location and Active RFID at a low total cost," says Andris Berzins, Aeroscout's vice president of marketing and business development.

AeroScout's active RFID tags are now able to retrieve wired data that can then be passed via Wi-Fi to the AeroScout Engine. "This enables vehicle fleet managers to wirelessly transmit vehicle data such as mileage and fuel automatically on a periodic basis or as a vehicle enters and exits a lot," according to a statement.

The AeroScout Engine 3.0 includes a centralized management tool allowing a system to be configured along with alerts and notifications from a single console. The engine has been revamped, providing "even greater ease of use and more refined user experience," according to the company.

An updated API will permit developers to handle more complex data and control the AeroScout Engine.

AeroScout competitor Ekahau recently announced it would offer ready-built location-aware application, instead of waiting for developers to create applications using the company's Real Time Location System.

Its turn-key system includes the Ekahau Finder, Ekahau Tracker and Ekahua Logger—all aimed at the end-user. The company says the new approach means faster deployment, increased adoption of location technology and lower costs.

Boston-based PanGo Networks also employs Wi-Fi to track items with attached RFID tags. Pango's Locator technology employs already-existing Wi-Fi access points as the location tag reader.



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