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Acquisition of Time Domain Enables New Market for Humatics Corp.

Microwave RF-based, precise location technology company Humatics has acquired ultra-wideband solution firm Time Domain, enabling it to offer hybrid solutions to track goods, assets and individuals within a centimeter or millimeter, depending on the application.
By Claire Swedberg
Mar 23, 2018

Humatics Corp., a three-year-old technology startup spun off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has expanded its product offering millimeter-scale radio frequency (RF)- based micro-location solutions to include ultra-wideband (UWB) technology for industrial manufacturing, as well as for smart cities, transportation and other applications. This month, the company acquired 5D Robotics and its subsidiary, Time Domain, an RTLS firm .

With the acquisition, Humatics reports, it can now develop solutions that suit a variety of needs for its customers, ranging from highly precise location data needed in robotic manufacturing to wider, less precise coverage for tracking the movements of assets or inventory for the purpose of monitoring safety or supply chain-based data. The difference lies in how specific the location data needs to be, the firm explains, as well as the required read range. Humatics' RF solutions pinpoint location within millimeters at a range of up to 30 meters (98 feet), and (with the inclusion of Time Domain technology) also within a few centimeters from a distance of up to 500 meters (1,640 feet) using microwave radio transmissions.

Humatics was co-founded by David Mindell, the company's CEO and an MIT professor of aeronautics and astronautics with a background in sonar and navigation technologies. His co-founder, Gary Cohen, the company's president and COO, has a background in early-stage and advanced technology research and development.

Humatics' solution has centered around –an RF-pulse-based transmission, in order to provide very high precision location of tagged items. It uses what it calls its Spatial Intelligence Platform analytics software to manage data captured from devices they term base stations installed around a user's facility, or attached to drones or robots—to enable applications in which people and robots work together, for instance.

With the Humatics technology, a company could, for example, employ robotics for its manufacturing processes, in which very specific location data must be identified. A component in the manufacturing process could be tracked to the millimeter level, so as to allow assembly to take place without human input.

Several manufacturers are currently piloting this technology for manufacturing automation, Mindell reports, though they have asked not to be named. The technology is also being piloted in the transportation and rail sectors. He declines to specify how the technology is being used.

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