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Summary:

Field service technicians carry around a lot of specialized equipment that remains largely unconnected to any network. GigaOM Mobilize Showcase finalist ShowSigSense hopes to bring all of that gear into the internet of things.

SigSense Senzr
photo: SigSense

Many of the companies building the manifold devices of the internet of things are squarely targeting the consumer, but SigSense Technologies believes your cable repairman deserves a little IoT love as well. The hardware and software startup is building connected sensors for field-service technicians in an attempt to end the network isolation of their specialized tools.

Mobilize_badge_product-showcaseThe revolution in mobile networking and smartphones has largely bypassed the country’s 5.4 million field service technicians, SigSense co-founder Matt Burtch told me. The advanced spectrometers, gas leak meters and thermal imagers they use to perform their jobs remain largely unconnected. Typically technicians record instrument readings on paper or manually enter them into a computer. If they’re lucky, the device will have an SD card, which can be used to transfer data over to PC later on, Burtch said.

Recording, transferring and formatting this data wastes countless hours each week, Burtch said. “They’re going through the work day twice,” he said.

SigSense hopes to solve the problem by building general-purpose instruments called Senzrs that can connected wirelessly to a smartphone and then to the network. But it’s not stopping at hardware. SigSense has developed an application called SenzrEngine that can manage all of those measurement data points. It can not only plug readings into the proper enterprise databases but also give technicians access to real-time and historical data while in the field.

A finalist in GigaOM’s Mobilize Product Showcase, SigSense will be demonstrating its first batch of sensors at our Mobilize conference on Wednesday before their commercial release. SigSense has created five initial devices: a range finder, an electrical multimeter, a thermal imager, a gas sensor and a contactless thermometer.

SigSense graphic

SigSense’s ultimate goal is to build a platform for field service work, Burtch explained. It’s starting with its Senzrs, but the startup intends to design tools that will bring numerous instruments and other information sources into the same analytical systems.

For instance, smart phone apps could not only let a technician supplement its readings with photos, but also geo-stamp each reading with precise GPS coordinates. If multiple technicians are getting odd readings in a particular geographic area SenzrEngine could immediately recognize a utility is facing a larger problem, not just isolated incidents. SigSense also plans to start working with specialist instrument makers and particular industries to optimize their current equipment for its platform.

  1. The IoT M2M space looks more confused and crowded that ever. In the last week alone I probably read a dozen “announcements” of new products and entrants in the IoT market. Intel has announced Quark without much explanation. Zigbee still does not work, and the idea of automating utilities field technicians has been around for more than 20 years without any noticeable progress.. Many of these companies offer their own proprietary “hubs” or whatever, or emphasize that they support “many communications protocols.” Yikes! This market is going nowhere fast.

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