Zebra Technologies Corporation has announced the release of Zatar, a cloud-based software service with a user-friendly experience that makes it easy for businesses of all sizes to adopt and use an "Internet of Things" (IoT) solution in their operations. The company unveiled Zatar at the Internet of Things World Forum in Barcelona, a global event that unites thought leaders, business leaders and practitioners in business, industry, government and academia.
The increased use of cloud computing and the ubiquity of wireless networks have made connecting devices and sensors more appealing and cost-efficient. This has fueled the rapid growth of the Internet of Things and the race to connect devices and sensors that can be remotely monitored, managed and mined for valuable data.
Zebra Technologies is already a major provider of the building blocks in today's IoT technologies, including barcodes, RFID and sensors. The company made a strategic investment in Zatar to establish itself as a leader in the emerging Internet of Things market.
"Zatar is a simple and powerful IoT solution that is easy for any small business or global enterprise to implement and operate, even as more devices and collaborators are added to the platform," said Phil Gerskovich, senior vice president of New Growth Platforms for Zebra Technologies. "Similar to popular social media websites, each device on the Zatar website has its own page of information that can be accessed and analyzed from practically anywhere using a smartphone, tablet or computer."
The Zatar user experience is built to be simple and intuitive, so that anyone can set up and operate an IoT solution. Businesses today rely on billions of devices and sensors to identify, locate and sense conditions throughout their operations. These devices and sensors can easily become cloud connected to Zatar with the deployment of the Zatar Gateway, which is powered by the Intel NUC®. The Intel NUC, or Next Unit of Computing, is an enterprise-grade, powerful yet small computer that provides reliable local processing, connectivity and security.
"For businesses to ensure their data is complete, accurate and available when you need it, a cloud-based IoT solution like Zatar needs reliable connections between devices and users," said John Deatherage, Marketing Director for Intel Corporation. "As IoT solutions require true machine-to-machine communications, where actions are executed automatically with less human intervention, the connection and quality of the local computing gateway, powered by the Intel NUC, is even more critical."
Cloud-connected devices and sensors can yield insights on their identity, location and condition, which allow a company to make better decisions in real-time, or allow devices on its IoT network to share data and collaborate.
An IoT solution like Zatar can also enhance the customer experience while improving a company's operations. The owner of a winery, for instance, can use Zatar to remotely manage the inventory in a wine rack. Taking it one step further, they can offer a value-added experience for their customers by attaching inexpensive sensors to each bottle that will show customers the pedigree, temperature, humidity and transit shock history of each bottle. The customer can call up that item specific information by using the Zatar app on their iPhone or iPad.
Because Zatar is browser-based, the devices on the platform are accessible through any wireless or wired Internet connection.
Other key features of Zatar include:
- One System, Infinite Uses – Businesses can create their own Zatar applications for all types of tasks. Zebra makes it easy to develop new solutions through its application programming interface.
- Stays Simple at Scale – Companies can connect as few or as many devices as they want and the interface stays simple, no matter how many devices are added or how complex the tasks become. Speed and storage aren't compromised because Zatar utilizes the cloud.
- Apple iOS Accessibility – Anyone with an iPhone or iPad can access their devices through the Zatar app.
- Open Standards – Uses CoAP, an IETF standard and a key technology for the Internet of Things.
- Designed for Collaboration – Users can share a single device or groups of devices with colleagues and partners, which makes it easier for other teams and applications to benefit from the data. Collaborators can access shared devices from anywhere in the world.
- Always Accountable – Local processing provides uptime and response time, even when the Internet connection goes down. Devices are also protected by enterprise-level security and users can specify the types of data that are sent to the cloud.
Morgan Stanley recently predicted that 75 billion devices will be connected via IoT by the end of the decade. A 2012 report conducted by Forrester Research indicated that more than half of enterprises surveyed planned to implement an IoT solution within the next 24 months.