Metasensor Sets Sights on Simplifying Asset Tracking

Using a Bluetooth-based sensor and simple applications, the Silicon Valley startup says it is making tracking devices easy and safe for consumer and commercial applications alike.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Sep 03, 2015

In 2009, while Nick Warren was working as the director of program technologies at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, something bad happened to one of his colleagues—and to his workplace. "A well-dressed man walked right into the office and stole my colleague's laptop," he says. "And with it, he lost some critical research data."

This, along with a burglary of his parent's house six months earlier, sent Warren into high gear for one of his side projects: developing a wireless system to track motion. Six years later, this has culminated in Metasensor, Warren's venture-backed startup, and the release yesterday of its inaugural products, the Sensor-1 and the Web-based Aletha software for analyzing data collected by the Sensor-1.

Metasensor's Sensor-1
The Sensor-1 is roughly the circumference and thickness of three quarters stacked atop each other. It contains a three-axis accelerometer; a three-axis gyroscope; a Bluetooth radio; a microcontroller; red, blue and green LED lights; a siren; and a replaceable CR2032 lithium coin battery. The sensor stores movement data (related to linear motion and tilt) and communicates with any Bluetooth device to which it is paired, such as a smartphone, via the Sensor-1 app, or a laptop.

The Aletha platform is designed to aggregate data culled from multiple Sensor-1 devices directly (uploaded by the Sensor-1 app running on a Bluetooth-enabled device), or by importing data from the Sensor-1 app as a raw .cvs or .xls file. Metasensor is also developing an Aletha software module that users can run directly on PCs or laptops in case those machines are not directly connected to the Internet, or if security features prevent the Web browser from downloading information from the Sensor-1 devices via a Bluetooth connection. The hosted Aletha platform will serve as an aggregator for data from all of these sources, and also generates charts to visualize sensor activity. In addition, it includes analytic tools that users can access to create reports or look for trends based on sensor activity.

Metasensor is also offering an application programming interface (API) that will allow developers to port the sensor data into their own applications.

The Sensor-1 encrypts its transmissions using the AES-128 block cipher before uploading them to the paired iPhone app or Metasensor's Web-based Aletha platform.

Warren says the Sensor-1, which costs $79, can be mounted onto or inside anything that a consumer or company might want to track, such as a laptop, a bicycle or a shipping container.

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