May 2015
Interview

AutomatedBuildings.com

Innovations in Comfort, Efficiency, and Safety Solutions.
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Matt HortonEMAIL INTERVIEWMatt Horton and Ken Sinclair

Matt Horton, President, sensorFact Services, Inc.

Matt Horton is the president and co-founder of sensorFact Services, Inc., and is a technology professional and software developer with over three decades of experience in start-up situations ranging in industries from Telecommunications, Internet, Financial, Automotive, Building Automation & Energy Management, and currently the Internet of Things.


Cloud-Based Data Acquisition and Storage

Our goal is to allow the data owners to better participate in these marketplaces by providing an open API to their data so they can entertain offers by third parties much more easily than they could in the past.


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SinclairFor those not familiar with sensorFact, what is it? 

Horton:  Essentially, sensorFact is a cloud-­based data acquisition and storage solution for building automation systems.  Our goal, as the Internet of Things becomes more prevalent, is to solve many of the security and data sharing problems that arise when there is a need to integrate critical systems with non-critical systems.  We’ve purpose-built our cloud platform to be highly secure, allow for huge volumes of inbound data, and to be easily integrated with third party products and services.

SinclairWhat’s an example use case for sensorFact?

Horton:  One of our customers is responsible for taking service calls from retail locations and then dispatching technicians to the site.  The Energy Management System in these stores is sending their data to sensorFact so that the data can be shared with the call center and the service technician.  Before sensorFact, the call center would need to use a VPN and the actual EMS system front-end to access the needed data, and then use the telephone to relay this information to the service technician.  There would be several phone calls from the tech to the call center for the same basic question: “What’s the temperature reading now?”  The dispatch company has the cost analysis of these quick ­question phone calls down to a science, and they know each one costs them about five-dollars.  Now with sensorFact, those phone calls aren’t necessary, so the cost and the time to complete service projects have been dramatically reduced.  What’s more, the retailer has reduced the need and number of people accessing their network, which mitigates the risk of cyber security issues. 

Sinclair Does sensorFact offer any traditional energy management or building control solutions?

Horton:  Not  directly.  Our goal is to allow the data owners to better participate in these marketplaces by providing an open API to their data so they can entertain offers by third parties much more easily than they could in the past.  Since sensorFact is already collecting and storing the sensor data in our platform, vendors can be allowed temporary or permanent access to the subscriber’s data store, rather than the more traditional process gaining access to the data through individual IT departments; which is a time consuming and expensive ad-hoc process.  We want our subscribers to have many solutions to choose from, and we are working with software providers that allow cloud-based subscription solutions to our menu of add-on selections.   We do offer SkyFoundry’s SkySpark as an integrated solution under our own SaaS license, but other solutions will be listed and offered directly from the solution provider under our revenue sharing partnership agreements.  We also work with larger subscribing customers in the process of integrating their sensorFact data through our API with their back-­office work order and accounting systems.

SinclairHow does sensorFact get the data out of the building?  Is it secure?

Horton:  We have developed highly secure tools and API for collecting the data.  Our pointCollex data acquisition software technology is offered for free, and we also are working with OEM’s to include similar functionality within their embedded systems so that users can easily port their data out to sensorFact.  All of this technology is purpose-built to act something like a data diode, where the data only goes one way and offers no surface or interface for accepting connections.  All communication with sensorFact is authenticated using security tokens from the customer’s LAN over 2048 Bit Encrypted SSL over Port 443, so it’s secure and requires no special network configuration.  You turn it on, and manage it from within sensorFact.
 
SinclairHow much does it cost?

Horton:  sensorFact is a subscription service and costs $10 per month per site on a 24-month contract. That rate gives you live updating values for all points from the site, with long-term time-­series storage of 50 points that are bankable across sites.  More points can be added to the time-series bank at a rate of around 10 cents per month.  A subscription gives the user full access to the API and unlimited data sharing.  In the near future, anyone will be able to create a free account that will allow them to try the service for one site.

SinclairWho is your target market?

Horton:  Commercial building automation and energy management systems that need to share data with people and systems outside their network.  Apart from traditional back-office integrations, the Internet of Things is moving ahead.  The data that is being generated by commercial control systems is a valuable resource for building owners and the opportunities just on the horizon.  With sensorFact, the prospect of data acquisition and integration with external systems will be easily manageable, allowing building owners the opportunity to participate in the emerging IoT market.  

SinclairWhat does Project Haystack mean for sensorFact?

Horton:  One of the biggest barriers to entry of any integration effort with building automation systems is the lack of standards with regards to data models and the identification of data source elements.  In simple terms, there are no two control system databases that look the same, and the naming conventions used are as varied as  the individuals who deployed the systems.  Project Haystack is a good standard for data modeling that is well positioned for the Internet of Things.  sensorFact is both technologically and philosophically aligned with Project Haystack, and we are investing in a Haystack compliant API for sensorFact and will become a full member when this is deployed this year.

CatNet SystemsSinclair Will sensorFact be promoting Project Haystack as a standard API?

Horton:  Yes.  Our hope is to promote Project Haystack in several industries.  We see no reason why the standard cannot be utilized across the entire IoT market going forward.  Although our data acquisition API must maintain compliancy across many disparate protocols, brands, and vintages, our hope is that Haystack is the API of choice for third-party integrations.  It will be the standard way for our SkySpark offering to stream data from sensorFact, and we also plan to announce a graphics integration on Haystack this year.

Learn more about sensorFact Services, Inc. at https://www.sensorFact.com



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