In the month of February, we’re celebrating 10 years of Link Labs. In February of 2014, a group of John Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab veteran engineers came together to create the company we know today as Link Labs. The technology solutions we offer today are different from what we offered 10 years ago, but in the best way. Our team of expert engineers are continually innovating our products to be a better solution for our customers. Let’s take a look at the top 10 accomplishments Link Labs has made in the past decade.
Increase Your ROI by Investing in AirFinder Everywhere
- Loss Prevention. Reduce the amount of loss that occurs during the supply chain process
- Location Coverage. AirFinder Everywhere uses a combination of GPS, Cellular, and WiFi to determine location everywhere
- Security Alerts. Know when a delay in shipment has occurred so the problem
can be addressed immediately.
1. Symphony Link™
Symphony Link™ is a wireless system built on LoRa that we developed at Link Labs, designed to provide customers with high reliability and advanced features in their LPWA system. Symphony Link™ was developed as an option for customers searching for the range of LoRaWAN, but at a higher performance level. Since Symphony Link™ was designed with low-power and long-range in mind, customers were given the flexibility to use the solution paired with battery-powered IoT sensors. Initially, our customers would purchase our Symphony Link™ module to integrate into their existing IoT products. These modules would communicate with our gateways, allowing our customers to interact with their data in a way that is helpful to them. You would want to use Symphony Link™ if you wanted to rely on a 3rd party network that is more secure than your existing WiFi network. Communicating important data over a secure network ensures your data remains secure in the case of a data breach in the WiFi network.
M2M, or machine-to-machine communication simply refers to software that enables two machines to communicate with one another. The key part of this software is that humans are not involved in the communication process. Some technology solutions require human interference, but this one does not. M2M allows for automation of certain tedious tasks. If this sounds similar to the Internet of Things (IoT), that’s because that is what M2M is. We weren’t the first to invent IoT, but we have pushed this movement forward in the form of asset tracking. Companies use IoT to improve business operations, but IoT is a huge umbrella term. We’ve made ourselves an expert in the asset tracking part of M2M. When a tag communicates with a beacon, it can determine its own location and tell the IoT platform where it is. This way, you as the user can find your valuable assets instead of wasting time searching for them or spending money to replace them.
3. LTE CAT-M1
Back in 2017, we were the first company to launch a CAT-M1 module with Sequans modems. This CAT-M1 solution operates similarly to our Symphony Link™ solution by enabling our customers to integrate low-power cellular into their IoT devices and then connect them to our cloud platform. CAT-M1 played a significant role in developing our current SuperTag solution, which we’ll dive into later in the list. One of CAT-M1’s most impactful benefits is how automated it is. Instead of requiring manual interaction and input, it automatically sends and receives data on its own. This means you as the user can be completely hands off after attaching the tag to the asset you’re tracking. When you want to know an asset’s location, you don’t have to do anything except look it up on the IoT platform.
4. Edge Computing
Edge computing has become a hot topic in the past few years, but we’ve been using it far before it took center stage. While we weren't the ones to develop edge computing, we were one of the first to effectively implement it into our asset tracking technology. If you’re unfamiliar with edge computing, it is a tool that allows devices to remotely process data at the "edge" of a network. It can do this by using either the device or a local server as the point of processing. Using edge computing is important in asset tracking software since it allows the devices to communicate their location in real time instead of having any delay. The point of using an asset tracking system is to find out where your assets are at that moment, not where they last were. You don’t want to wait for their location to refresh, that’s why edge computing is an important part of our software. The lower latency that edge computing has is especially helpful in manufacturing spaces. This is because managers can address problems before they negatively impact operations. Edge computing also allows for a more secure system overall.
5. Bluetooth Low Energy
Our AirFinder OnSite Bluetooth LE solution, formerly known as AirFinder 2, is a wireless communication technology solution allowing devices to communicate location data using Bluetooth LE as the communication medium. Our AirFinder OnSite Bluetooth LE solution provides users with Just Right Precision™. The asset tags communicate with the location beacons to determine which one they are closest to and relay their location data through our Access Points, which are connected to our Symphony Link™ gateways. The gateway sends the location information to the IoT network for the end-user to view and use. This solution has helped companies gain visibility of their assets indoors. With visibility of assets, companies find out in real-time when and where a bottleneck occurs within the manufacturing process. These alerts give managers the ability to address the bottleneck before it negatively impacts their operations. An unknown bottleneck can take weeks or months to catch the attention of managers without a Bluetooth LE solution. During this time, production will decrease and costs will increase, costing the company a lot of money. With AirFinder OnSite Bluetooth LE, companies will be saving money instead of wasting it.
6. Xtreme Low Energy (XLE®)
Our Bluetooth LE solution was found to be extremely helpful in manufacturing and warehouse spaces. Some of the companies that utilized that asset tracking solution, however, wondered how they could get closer location accuracy than they were receiving with Bluetooth LE. With Bluetooth LE, they only knew which location beacon it was near, not the specific location. Our engineers heard the feedback from our customers and developed a patented technology that would bring them up to meter level accuracy. That solution was AirFinder OnSite XLE®, formerly known as AirFinder 3. XLE® uses phase ranging technology to determine an asset’s location. XLE® still communicates with location beacons, but does so in a more efficient way than Bluetooth LE does. The tag measures the amount of time it takes to communicate with multiple beacons and uses that information to determine the beacon closest to it. It then calculates how far away it is from the beacon based on the time it takes the signal to travel. This asset tracker also has a longer battery life than Bluetooth LE does which provides you with ROI quickly. If you’re looking to track your assets in an indoor environment and need location accuracy within an arm’s reach, this is a solution you will find to be helpful in improving your operations.
Our AirFinder Everywhere Solution, SuperTag, was the first asset tracking system that tracked location seamlessly both indoors and outdoors. The SuperTag has two options, the Pro and the Plus. The Pro is a smaller tag but the Plus has a longer battery life, up to 7 years. Both tags utilize the same technology, a combination of GPS, WiFi sniffing, and LTE. Using this combination of technology allows you as the end user to gain high location accuracy while preserving battery life. The SuperTag works simply by being attached to and reporting the location of a desired asset. This asset tracking system is commonly used in the logistics space. Fleet managers have found success by using these tags to track their trailers, pallets, and cargo. This has helped them to ensure smooth supply chain operations. If you want to prevent loss and theft of your moving assets, SuperTag is the solution you should use.
8. Rechargeable SuperTag
With sustainability at the forefront of seemingly everyone’s mind, we decided that we should do our part and become more environmentally conscious. With that goal in mind, we’ve taken strides to extend battery life in all of our tags. That wasn’t enough, though. We wanted to create a tag that never needed the battery to be replaced. With this goal in mind, we developed the Rechargeable SuperTag. This tag operates the same as the SuperTag Pro and the SuperTag Plus, the only difference being its rechargeable battery. You would choose this solution if sustainability is essential to your operations or if you are tracking an asset that is independently powered, as this tag is easiest to use if you can keep it plugged in at all times. This tag isn’t for everyone, but we wanted to make sure that sustainable options were available wherever possible. If consistent power usage is a problem for you, our extended battery life on the other SuperTags are still a great opportunity for sustainability since you’d only have to replace the battery up to once every 7 years.
9. SuperTag as a Hub
Since SuperTag’s introduction in 2018, we’ve made huge strides in our SuperTag offerings. Since this solution was the first of its kind, we couldn’t leave it alone, we had to keep making it better. This brings us to 2021 and the invention of the SuperTag as a Hub. Simply put, SuperTag as a Hub brings together the best of AirFinder OnSite and AirFinder Everywhere. It can be used with the core technologies of both solutions. Let’s walk through a brief example of how it works. A fleet manager wants to track their trailers along with the pallets and cargo on the trailer. They don’t need to know the specific location on the road of the cargo, just that it’s on the correct trailer. They also want to track its specific location inside the warehouse destination, preferably with the same system and components. In this example, they would use the SuperTag as a Hub model. To do so, they would attach Bluetooth LE tags to the pallets and the cargo and a SuperTag Plus to the trailer. The SuperTag will identify its own location and also act as an access point for the Bluetooth LE tags. The SuperTag Plus will check how many Bluetooth LE tags are within range in the trailer at the manager’s desired intervals. This way, they can make sure the pallets are on their way to the correct location. Once they arrive at the warehouse, the Bluetooth LE tags can then automatically connect to the AirFinder system at the warehouse, transitioning smoothly into use within the AirFinder Onsite system.
10. AirFinder Ultra
AirFinder Ultra is our most recent product release. AirFinder Ultra is an AirFinder OnSite solution that utilizes UWB technology to track assets indoors. UWB technology is famous for its centimeter-level location accuracy and short battery life. The battery life is why we were hesitant to even release a product using this technology. However, our amazing engineers were able to use UWB in the tags with XLE® technology in the beacons, making it possible to provide highly accurate location information at an affordable price with extended battery life. If you need this granular level of accuracy to find special tools, you can now get it through Link Labs. Since the location beacons use XLE®, you can also use XLE® tags in areas where you don't have as accurate of location information, saving you even more money.
The Future of Link Labs
If we can accomplish this much and more in our first 10 years, consider how much more we’ll be capable of in the next 10 years and beyond. We have a couple of advancements on our immediate radar that you’ll get a sneak peek at soon, with even more coming further down the line. The first is another advancement of our SuperTag software. Now that we've been able to develop a way to cost effectively track assets indoors with centimeter level, we’re looking to do the same for tracking assets outdoors. The world is a huge place, your assets could be anywhere. With centimeter level accuracy, you have maximum visibility of your assets. The other project we’ve been working on for some time is going global. We’ve started small with Mexico and Canada, but with the power of 5G we’re going to be able to expand to Europe and more. As for what comes next? You’ll have to wait and see!
In a short decade, we at Link Labs have accomplished so much. As we look back to where we started compared to where we are now, I know the next 10 years will see even more growth. At a basic level, our goal has always been to help companies improve their operations. We’ve done this by providing them with real time visibility of their assets whether they are indoors or outdoors. We aren’t resting any time soon, but improving what we have created and expanding our reach. We’re excited for the next 10 years and beyond, are you? If you want to learn more about our solutions, book a demo with our team of experts.