Award winning manufacturer of IT-based building automation.
EMAIL INTERVIEW – Matt Horton and Ken Sinclair
Matt Horton, President, sensorFact Services, Inc.
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
Energy Management, and currently the
Internet of Things.
Data Acquisition and
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.
For 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.
Sinclair: What’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
What’s more, the retailer has reduced the need and number of
people accessing their network, which mitigates the risk of cyber
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.
Sinclair: How does sensorFact get the data out of the building? Is it secure?
Horton: We have
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.
Sinclair: How 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.
Sinclair: Who 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.
Sinclair: What 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.
Sinclair: 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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