Skip to main content

Internet of Things Innovators: ThingMagic

 Today we look at one of many companies making 'things' happen in the evolving Internet of Things. Based out of Cambridge, MA, the aptly named ThingMagic makes a range of RFID (radio frequency identification) products. Last July, ThingMagic started a campaign which caught our eye: 100 uses of RFID, a blog series which ran over 100 business days. At first we were a little skeptical, but when we checked in at the end of November the mission was nearly complete. All 100 uses are now available on the ThingMagic blog, covering a range of industries - healthcare, banking, cycling, prisons, swimming pools, and more.
RFID chips are tiny microprocessors that are embedded into real world objects. Data from the chips is read by RFID Readers, which is what ThingMagic specializes in. Over the 10 years of its existence, ThingMagic has diversified its customer base and was eventually acquired last October.
ThingMagic's acquirer was Trimble, a provider of positioning and tracking solutions using technologies like GPS, laser and optical. Trimble, which has annual revenues of over $1 billion, bought ThingMagic to add RFID to its tracking arsenal. Jürgen Kliem, Trimble VP of strategy and business development, told RFID Journal in October that "a growing number of Trimble's customers are showing an interest in RFID-based asset-tracking solutions."
Founded in 2000 by a group of PhD graduates from MIT's Media Lab, ThingMagic aimed to become "the engine in RFID." By the time of acquisition a decade later, ThingMagic's customers included industrial automation firms, manufacturers, automotive companies, retailers, and consumer companies.
The name ThingMagic originated from a goal of "adding magic to everyday objects." However it took a long time for that vision to become a reality. As Gregory Huang of Xconomy put it, in an excellent profile last August, "the technology was strong but its business use was overhyped, so it got stuck on the adoption curve."
Last year, RFID finally began to get successful uptake. ThingMagic co-founder and CTO Yael Maguire told Xconomy that "in most cases it's [RFID] caught up with people's imagination. People are focusing [now] on how to deploy it."
The fact that ThingMagic was acquired by a billion-dollar tracking company proves that RFID technology is fairly mature now and so deploying it is key. What's more, RFID combined with other Web and mobile technologies is an increasingly important part of the Internet of Things. Sensors may be the only technology that is more important.
As ThingMagic co-founder Ravi Pappu told Xconomy, "it's not just about the RFID [it's about] connecting to other systems, like Bluetooth, GPS, Wi-Fi." By combining all of this, he said, "you have the Internet of Things."
ThingMagic will be viewed as one of the early success stories of Internet of Things. Perhaps it sold a bit too early, even. One thing is for sure, RFID uptake owes a lot to this little Boston company powered by MIT Media Lab PhDs.


Popular posts from this blog

Top 5 Women Who Impacted Technology in 2010

Katie Stanton, International Strategist for Twitter Katie Stanton has impressively long names of companies in her resume. They include the White House, Google Inc, and her latest addition is Twitter. Her remit is working on Twitter’s international strategy and her experience in social media will be a key asset to the company. Katie has a history of working in technology, and her knowledge of departmental laws will help Twitter work alongside government agencies, as she’ll be spearheading the free information approach, especially after the Wikileaks incident. Stanton has been a key player in the techsphere for some time, and this extends to her private life. Following the Haiti disaster she worked with a group of engineers to create a free texting service to help those in need and she is constantly in demand as an expert in both social media and government policy.
Caterina Fake, Co-Founder of Flickr and Hunch Despite having a surname which sounds like a pseudonym for a spy (it’…

Evolution Of Computer Virus [infographic]

AT&T MiFi 2372 review

In the week or so that I have been testing the AT&T MiFi 2372 by Novatel Wireless, it has already saved no less than three lives. First, it saved my cable guy’s life. You see, Time Warner Cable provides the worst home Internet service I have ever experienced. I can’t even think of a close second. If providing terrible home Internet service was a sport, Time Warner Cable would be on its tenth consecutive undefeated season. Forget the fact that my upload speed is capped at 60Kbps and I’m lucky if I can get half that — it has been months since I’ve gone through a full day without at least one service interruption. Months. Unfortunately, Time Warner Cable has an exclusive contract with my building so I have no choice but to endure its abysmal service. Last week, as a Time Warner Cable technician entered my home for the sixth time in two months, I realized that this certainly would have spelled serious trouble had it not been for my trusty new back up device. Before the Mi…