Seven Questions about Contigo’s New Mobile Items Monitoring Patent

By Joe Francica

Contigo received a patent earlier this year for monitoring the locations of mobile items. The patent is not linked to a specific location technology, meaning it applies to existing and perhaps future technologies. Editor-in-Chief Joe Francica asked company representatives to share insights on the implications of this patent for the company's existing fleet tracking and future solutions.

Joe Francica (JF): You say that the patent is for monitoring multiple forms of location technology. Is the patent limited to GPS and A-GPS or will it include RF technology as well either now or in the future?

The patent does not specify any particular location-determining technology, and thereby covers everything ranging from GPS and A-GPS to RF. That is one of the strengths of the patent, as it takes into account not only the variety of location technologies available today but it also has an eye to the future in terms of yet-to-be-developed advancements.

JF: You offer that the new platform will support commercial and consumer applications. What are your top markets in each?

Our platform does support both market segments broadly, including multiple sub markets in each. Our strongest market in the commercial segment remains fleet management but we are starting to see strong traction in commercial asset tracking. In the consumer segment, we are seeing pull demand for the typical family safety applications (child safety, pet tracking, etc.), but we still view these markets as early stage.

JF: Can you elaborate on how the interface will allow the user to control tracking beacons and review incident reports? What applications do you offer that enable the user to control the beacons?

Our software interface is entirely Web-based, making the system accessible from any Internet connected computer. From within the application, the user can request live single-point location updates or live real time tracking along with the ability to use a dynamic and flexible scheduling engine to set automated position reports. We have partnered with MapQuest and recently launched a high performance, Flash-based map display control that takes advantage of street, aerial and hybrid mapping options, along with "draggable" maps and other great usability features.

As part of the patent, our system has the capability to control a variety of different features for different beacons over the air, all from within the Web interface. Some examples include dynamic geofence and speed alerts, start and stop thresholds and input/output parameters for fleet vehicles, and panic-button programming for some of our safety related applications.

Also within the Web interface users can review historical reports for beacon activity, print and export reports, and even schedule reports for delivery via email in a variety of formats.

JF: Your solutions permit you to operate over GSM or CDMA so I assume the technology can be deployed worldwide? Can you provide some application examples?

Correct, in multiple respects. Not only can our system be deployed worldwide, it also has the ability to support global mobile monitoring applications. For example, our system is architected in such a way that it can be used in Mexico for a fleet operator that wants to keep track of his fleet of service vehicles. It also can be used by a Fortune 500 company that wants to track commercial assets that are manufactured in the U.S. but are transported to Europe. Our system was designed from the ground up to be location technology, wireless technology and beacon manufacturer agnostic. As a result of this, our platform can simultaneously support GSM or CDMA beacons within a single customer interface, irrespective of country.

JF: What is your view of the asset tracking market. How deeply deployed or penetrated is this market? What industries or applications are the early adopters and who in your opinion should be using the technology?

The asset tracking market is in its very early stages. Part of the reason why it is not yet penetrated is that it is not a single, monolithic market called "asset tracking." Instead, it is better to view it as a market of markets, or a series of micro-markets that have specific requirements. Some early penetration has been seen in law enforcement surveillance, heavy equipment monitoring and some cargo tracking segments.

JF: Are you working with any partners who offer routing and scheduling to support your application?

Yes - we work closely with MapQuest, and we use their routing engine with NAVTEQ data for some routing applications within our fleet solution. We are about to release the first version of the Contigo Data Exchange API, which will allow third party companies to integrate their software into our system, and we envision this being used by routing/scheduling and dispatching systems.

JF: What do you mean when you say that you can use this as a springboard for other applications? Can you elaborate?

Our patent and technology-agnostic system design provide us great latitude in expanding our solution into emerging markets without having to overhaul or redesign our applications. As new opportunities emerge within the LBS space, Contigo is well positioned to quickly launch new applications.

Published Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

Written by Joe Francica

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