But Pradhan emphasized that Sentient Spaces gears its research to solving actual customer problems. "At some [other] companies, researchers say, I want to build a better mousetrap. Then, theyll look around and ask, Is there a mouse around? Well, were not like that here." With its building security concept, for example, HP is attempting to save customers money by sparing them the need to lay down additional cable.Instead of satellite communications, HP is using 802.11 on the wireless side. "If we want to use video, though, we run into bandwidth issues with 802.11," Pradhan said. HPs solution is to run the video at low resolution, for a low-bandwidth birds-eye view, and to then augment the video with an "indoor positioning system" made up of sensors that are adept at tracking and identifying objects at close range. Some HP customers who work with Sentient Spaces are referred by HPs sales team, while others simply ask whether they can come in and take a look around. HP is showing some of the prototype technologies at an RFID Demo Center, also in Palo Alto, which opened in October. Prototypes on display at the Demo Center include SmartLocus, a solution that combines the indoor positioning system with RFID, and Smart Rack, an application that uses thermal sensors to monitor the temperature of servers in racks. Ultimately, these solutions might result in real applications that will let companies keep track of all the computers in a large data center, while maintaining temperatures that are neither too hot nor too cold, Pradhan said. Meanwhile, HP also plans to develop an overlay network that will enable management and security over multiple types of sensors, despite the sometimes dramatic differences in their physical properties. For integrated enterprise administration, the researchers want to interface the sensor overlay network to HP OpenView. "The overlay network will have tentacles that reach out into the [individual] sensors for managementso customers wont need to worry about what kind of [wireless] carrier they have, for instance," Pradhan said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news and analysis of enterprise supply chains.
Satellite-driven GPS (geographic positioning system)a type of sensor typically associated with location trackingdoesnt work well indoors because GPS signals dont do a good job of penetrating walls, he said.