Internet services provide remote control of hvacr

July 1, 2000
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Service contractors can use ASM with X-Node to monitor a variety of devices, including a/c systems, compressors, and other components.
Critical Devices Inc., Dallas, TX, and World Wireless Communications Inc., Engle-wood, CO, have announced a partnership to provide corporate, commercial, and consumer users with Internet-based services to remotely access, monitor, and control a variety of devices, including hvacr equipment, gas meters, swimming pools, and other products.

The services are a combination of Critical Devices' Asset Services ManagementT (ASM) web service and the X-NodeT web server, developed by X-traWeb Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of World Wireless.

X-Node is a miniaturized, 1-sq-in. server that attaches to the device and collects data. This data is sent to the ASM service which tracks and monitors performance and usage of the device and reports the information online. Printed reports can also be provided that are customized for the user.

Whenever a monitored condition deviates from normal, alerts and alarms can be sent. David Singer, chairman and ceo of World Wireless Communications/ X-traWeb, noted, "We can set it up any way the customer wants," alerting clients by e-mail, pager, cell phone, Palm Pilot, or other method.

Singer said that World Wireless, which recently began trading on the American Stock Exchange, has gotten a very favorable response from its customers on the new system.

Maximum knowledge

"The addition of this high-functionality data hosting system to our services will allow our customers to derive the maximum amount of knowledge and value from their data å all from a standard web-based software package," commented Donald Wallace, president of X-traWeb.

"We've combined our expertise and technologies to demonstrate that remote control and monitoring of devices - 24 hours a day, seven days a week using the Internet - is here today, is affordable, and can actually save thousands of dollars annually," stated Roy Hogsed, president and chief executive officer of Critical Devices.

"These services are particular1y valuable for companies with a large number of remote locations."

Data can be retrieved from devices on an event or timed basis. If abnormal conditions are detected, the system notifies the Network Operations Center (NOC) and the NOC immediately notifies the designated alert contact. Service assistance can then be provided proactively, minimizing loss of product, productivity, profits, and/or comfort.

One national quick-service restaurant is piloting the ASM service by attaching X-Node servers to its hvac equipment, freezers, ovens, and fryers. "In seconds, they can know if a fryer or oven was accidentally left on after hours, or if a freezer compressor is about to fail," said Hogsed. "By knowing and responding quickly, they can prevent a fire, call in service personnel, or remind restaurant managers to turn down the thermostats before leaving for the night."

Critical Devices and X-traWeb will share engineering and technical development efforts and work with service providers specializing in the corporate, industrial, manufacturing, home automation, supermarket, and quick-service restaurant markets.

Going home

Both companies envision quickly extending their services to the residential market. Singer said the plan is to come up with a residential system by the second quarter of next year.

Using this system, when a family leaves on vacation and while on the freeway can't remember if the iron was left on or if the air conditioner was turned off, they won't have to turn back. Right there in their vehicle, they can connect using a Palm Pilot and call up the iron or a/c system. A click and it's taken care of.

The price of these services depends on the specific application. Pricing is generally subscription-based, per month, per device. Singer gave a price range of $7 to $10 per month, per device, up to $30 to $40 per month.

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