Newbury Goes Back to Roots

By Eric Griffith

March 20, 2006

The location-aware security company is introducing asset tracking and a new software platform to let customers make custom applications.

When it first launched, Newbury Networks was in the business of providing location-based services that did more than just provide security based on where end-users are located — they would do things like serve up information to laptops or PDAs based on location. The company soon saw the writing on the wall, that security was where Wi-Fi was hot, and has played almost exclusively in that space since then with its Watchdog products.

But everything old is new again: today, the Boston-based company announced Newbury Presence Platform, software/middleware for creating location-aware applications.

"Going back to our roots is what we're doing," says Michael Maggio, Newbury's President and CEO.

The company is also taking on its WLAN location-aware competition at Ekahau and Aeroscout by offering Active Asset, which, as the name suggests, provides real-time asset tracking using Wi-Fi equipped tags which the company says it will sell in various sizes and power options. Tracking is done with a graphical interface that can show a floor plan map. Matched with the new Presence Platform, admins can get a handle on the lifecycle of tracked items, from people to devices. Moving an asset could be set up to trigger alerts, such as hospital property moving out of the building.

Why go back to this, uh, position on location? "Driving our decision to go back to our roots is that the market is mature and expects a certain type of system-level security," says Maggio. 

Director of Product Management Brian Wangerian says it’s a matter of "taking capabilities we've had for five years and building what could be called an abstraction layer... it takes the raw positioning information from [infrastructure equipment] and adds value, so it's useful to applications."

Newbury expects that Presence Platform will speed up development of location-driven applications. It will come with a toolkit for building graphical software, complete with APIs for making them Web or Java capable. It's already set to work with infrastructure equipment that is location-aware, including systems from Cisco, Symbol, Nortel and Aruba.

The company isn't getting out of the security business, though. Maggio says WiFi Watchdog and WiFi Workplace will continue to be sold, and he says the company is looking for ways to expand the channels for the products.

Look for Presence Platform to be in the channel in about a month, and a month later, Active Asset will be ready. The latter will sell for a base price of $13,995.

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