I.D. Systems was ready for a technology refresh when Chris Wolfe became chief executive 18 months ago.
Since 2010, the company has supported the Veriwise trailer tracking platform it acquired from Asset Intelligence, a former business unit of General Electric.
At this stage in his career, Wolfe wanted new products that did more than track assets. In the early 1990s he developed the first asset tracking system for Roadway Express and Penske Logistics. He later joined Qualcomm’s Wireless Business Solutions group, which he left in 2005 as president.
“If I just came out with new trackers, I would be bored,” he says.
The transportation and logistics market was heavily focused on electronic driver logs and technology to improve the quality of life for drivers. Plenty of companies already served those needs.
“How do we optimize the rest of the supply chain?” he wondered.
Shippers are spending nearly $800 billion per year for the transportation and logistics of goods worth $14 trillion.
The market opportunity for transportation technology, he says, is “in the goods—the cargo.”
Shippers and carriers would both benefit from better information on the status of shipments and conditions of cargo. But he wanted something to make I.D. Systems really stand out.
An idea came while watching a science fiction movie, Lucy. The title character is played by actress Scarlett Johannsen who accidentally ingests a substance that unlocks 100 percent of her brain’s cerebral capacity. She gains superhuman physical and cognitive powers.
Computers and smartphones are very tactile instruments. They use two senses — touch and sight. What if I.D. Systems could get the other senses of transportation workers and managers involved in managing assets, shipments and cargo status?
“The brain can handle a lot more,” he thought.
On Oct. 28 at the American Trucking Associations annual Management Conference and Exhibition (MCE) in Austin, Texas, I.D. Systems introduced a new telemetry and analytics product platform that includes an image-based cargo visibility detector and environmental sensors.
Integral to the platform launch is an interactive voice-user interface — an intelligent assistant named Lucy — that gives transportation workers and managers information to make real-time decisions without the need to manually run reports.
The I.D. Systems telemetry portfolio is called the LV Asset Tracking and Freight Visibility Series (LV Series).
The LV Series uses a common platform for wireless sensor integration and visual image confirmation to track the location and monitor the condition and status of the cargo. The LV Series can also monitor tire pressure, anti-lock braking system lights, and other elements of a trailer.
The three base asset tracking models (LV-100, LV-300 and LV-500) vary according to power management technology such as a long-life primary battery, rechargeable battery, or dual-power source. Each includes I.D. Systems’ drive-segment detection as well as time-based and sensor-event reporting.
The LV-710 is a vision sensor that detects cargo and measures loaded levels using a wireless high-definition camera and image recognition processor. It also has a door sensor and cargo-area environmental sensor. It integrates with the family of LV asset tracking devices and a new PowerFleet Yard smart phone app.
The LV-710, LV-720 and LV-730 can include on-asset sensors as well as LV-740 pallet-level sensors that measure temperature, humidity and shock.
When utilized with LV-740 pallet sensors, the LV-710 can detect and report if and where pallets are loaded, as well as environmental alerts (e.g. temperature, etc.), to deliver complete cargo visibility.
Lucy, a Voice-User Interface
Lucy is an integrated voice-activated system that provides dynamic interaction with a fleet’s asset and cargo database. The system provides in-transit reporting, real-time status and analytics without manually running reports.
Lucy leverages voice-activation technology with the Bing search engine to provide users with up-to-the-minute traffic, weather and ETA predictions and updates along planned or existing routes.
The dialogue with Lucy mirrors natural language. The user asks questions and can zero in on the type of information they are looking for, explains Dan Romary, vice president of data analytics and business intelligence of I.D. Systems.
The voice-user interface can be customized based on market segment such as intermodal chassis, regional and private fleets. It can be customized by user role and by their shifts as well. If any problems carry over from one shift, those problems—such as a late load or a trailer with required maintenance—will be passed on to the next shift to manage.
Lucy can be integrated into third-party systems such as transportation and warehouse management or tractor tracking systems.
During an online demo with CCJ, Romary asked Lucy a question:
“How many cargo alerts are there?” After specifying the alerts, Lucy asked, “Would you like me to contact the appropriate shift supervisor?”
Another possible question for Lucy is:
“Lucy, can you send me a picture of trailer 7654?” The system could trigger the LV-710 device in the trailer to take a photo of the cargo and transmit it instantly, he says.
PowerFleet Yard is a new handheld app that will be Lucy enabled. Future integration with third-party systems could put Lucy in the cab with a driver, or on a driver’s smartphone, he says. When a driver pulls up to a yard, Lucy could instruct the driver which trailer to hook up to and its status, Romary says.
I.D. Systems says the new LV Series product platform and Lucy will be available for field testing in the fourth quarter and commercially available in the first quarter of 2019.