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Building IoT Devices Is a Snap for Startup Interstacks

The Pennsylvania company has developed a modular system with Lego-like blocks that enable sensor-based tracking and wireless connectivity for un-networked industrial machines, with RFID functionality in the works.
By Claire Swedberg

In the future, when blocks come with RFID- or ZigBee-based functionality, they will also be able to read RFID tags, or transmit and read data between each other. The devices can be networked together in a single system in the software, and be programmed to send and receive data wirelessly back and forth.

There is no technical limit to the number of blocks that can be attached to a stack, Kiliany says, and the blocks can be attached in any order. "The only rule is that every stack has a base," he states.

Interstacks' Gary Kiliany
Interstacks is currently working with systems integrators that are providing the stacks to their own industrial customers. The technology is priced at between $50 and $100 per block, though the cellular-enabled block costs $300. The Superbase is priced at $90.

Although the company has not yet developed a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)-enabled block, Kiliany says, it might be in the works in the future. "We haven't had a project that's called for BLE yet," he states, "but we think that the technology is useful," especially for applications involved in locating parts or pallets, if customers express an interest in that application.

So far, Kiliany says, module blocks have been designed and released based on customer requirements. "Interstacks is really a generic, rapid hardware-building tool set that you can apply in so many verticals," he explains. While the technology was initially developed to get "old machines talking," systems integrators and end users are coming up with more innovative ideas regarding the hardware's use. That's the beauty of the modular approach, Kiliany says, adding that without the stack, "all you can have are fixed closed boxes" for specific functionality. "It's hard to be creative with that. I think the market needed a flexible tool like this to generate ideation."

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