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RTLS Solution Offers Alternative to Traditional RFID Vehicle Tracking

Cognosos, an Atlanta-based startup, offers a 400 MHz software-defined radio system to obtain location data about a vehicle within a car lot, typically with a single gateway on a site measuring a square mile, as well as a cloud-based server.
By Claire Swedberg
Nov 14, 2018

Cognosos, an Internet of Things (IoT) technology firm located in Atlanta, Ga., is providing an alternative to active RFID-based real-time location system (RTLS) technologies for vehicle management in lots. The solution, known as RadioCloud, consists of Cognosos's RadioTrax transmitting device and cloud-based software to manage location data.

The devices employ GPS technology for location tracking, along with Silicon Labs' Flex Gecko chip to transmit data to Cognosos's cloud-based software. The platform is designed for the real-time location of assets and inventory, and has been adopted by the automotive industry. The system typically requires only a single gateway for an area spanning a square mile or larger, in addition to battery-powered tags on vehicles.

Cognosos's Jim Stratigos
The RadioTrax tag employs an active 400 MHz transponder and GPS functionality. The device's motion sensor detects movement, then transmits the vehicle's location after it moves, says Jim Stratigos, Cognosos's founder and CTO. It uses software-defined radio (SDR) communication to achieve a long read range.

The company was launched in 2015 and worked with the Smart Antenna Lab at Georgia Tech. To create its IoT platform, Cognosos built what it calls innovative wireless networking. In early 2016, the firm released its solution commercially. Three types of customers are now utilizing the technology: auto manufacturers, dealerships and auction sites for used car sales.

Each RadioTrax tag (or "tracker") is typically hung on a car's rear-view mirror in a dealership or other vehicle lot. Users can scan the bar code printed on the front of the tag, then scan the vehicle identification number (VIN) to create a link between the tag and the vehicle. That scanning can be accomplished using Cognosos's mobile app on an iOS- or Android-based device. The system then begins tracking the vehicle as it moves around the facility.

The RadioTrax tag, which is about the size of a garage door opener, employs the GPS unit to identify the tag's location at all times. It also has a motion sensor to identify whether the vehicle is moving. If the tag is not in motion, it beacons at preset intervals, but that changes if the tag moves.

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