Creating a small security tracking solution does not mean asset tracking is about to go mainstream. But making the solution easy to use, highly accurate and simple to cost just might. By Justine Nelson, Head of M2M, Asia Pacific, Vodafone Global Enterprise
Ian Allen, executive chairman, NanoTag Technology, has a long history in brand protection and loss prevention. He spent 20 years working in the insurance industry; the insight gained here helped him form his own business venture. NanoTag Technology, Mr Allen’s Sydney-based business, now works with clients in the automotive, fashion and pharmaceutical sectors to fight counterfeiting and the rising menace of brand theft.
“With nickel-based NanoTags we deliver a virtually indestructible security and authentication system which will not fade, burn, melt or degrade,” he remarked. “Our technology is the result of years of elaborate laboratory research, stringent testing and intricate proprietary manufacturing processes.”
Mr Allen is now bringing this knowledge and attention to detail to the consumer market.
His tiny Black Knight tracker promises to be a secure, simple and truly global security tracking solution. The aim, he says, was not just to be small and simple. He wanted a small but meaningful range of functionality.
“For instance, we wanted to create alerts that would mean something to the user. For car owners; a message to tell you your car had moved from a specified location, ideal for parking a car for shopping, lunch or business, for parents lending their car to their children, or for the expensive garaged car. For dealers it could be configured to send information to better inform service visits,” Mr Allen remarked.
The launch market will be owners of cars, motorboats, jet skis, motorbikes, snowmobiles, RVs and others, but the appeal is universally compelling. “There are obvious incentives for police and insurers: an owner may even be able to ‘ping’ the stolen asset and report on its location,” said Mr Allen.
For the Black Knight devices to work Mr Allen needed a global connectivity partner. If the product was to prove straightforward for retailers to sell, he wanted a single supplier and global price consistency.
More Alerts, More Accurately
Black Knight uses Vodafone Global M2M SIMs to provide connectivity for its devices. Using a single supplier means Black Knight can manage the SIMs from one platform with price consistency for devices shipped anywhere in the world. Vodafone connectivity and the Global SIMs’ ability to roam to a secondary network, if needed, makes for a more robust tracking solution.
“You will be able to use Black Knight anywhere in the world,” commented Mr Allen. “The Vodafone Global M2M SIM means it connects to satellites and telecommunication companies in over 200 countries without ever having to change to a local SIM card to connect.” The Vodafone Global M2M SIM makes Black Knight cheaper and more effective.
“The vast majority of competitor GPS tracking devices use a local carrier’s SIM card. The owner’s communication to the device is mainly via texting codes. Black Knight updates its position 265,000 times per month, every 15 seconds – an impossible task using other text based systems, to send that many SMS’s. A 5-minute gap between positions could be a disaster if you are tracking a stolen vehicle. For boat owners, should the boat get into difficulty out at sea, a 5-minute gap in location posting could be a matter of life of death.
“Plus, Black Knight is accurate to five metres, making it at least twice as accurate as most trackers,” explained Mr Allen.
Black Knight will debut with a police initiative in Western Australia, installed in 1,000 vehicles as a crime prevention trial. “It is an ideal endorsement of the product,” commented Mr Allen.
He is predicting sales of 65,000 across Australia, New Zealand and Canada within the first 12 months. In the US, Black Knight is expecting to be sold in 23,000 power sports retailers; with this kind of coverage unit sales could exceed 250,000, he said. “And we have the means to scale quickly with Vodafone, all controlled through one portal,” he remarked. “Can you imagine dealing with local suppliers?”
“Potential ongoing revenues are staggering,” Mr Allen commented. “Black Knight will charge less for connectivity than local telecommunication companies for their phone services, yet it will help Vodafone to penetrate the market in the countries where it is not present, but have agreements with local phone companies to use their network. This makes Black Knight an easy sell by promising its customers a fixed connectivity charge in over 200 countries,” he remarked.
“One of the largest motorcycle dealers in New South Wales, Australia, said that normally it takes their salespeople about five to six weeks to familiarise themselves with a new “aftermarket product”. Black Knight is no such product – his people were selling it out of the shop within three days. They told us it is the easiest aftercare product they had stocked.