Anyline - IoT roaming free at last?

Neil Raden Profile picture for user Neil Raden October 17, 2023
Freeing IoT sensors from the 'things' they sense - Anyline's pitch under the spotlight.


The classical definition of the Internet of Things (IoT) was the collective network of connected devices and the technology that facilitates communication between devices and the cloud and between the devices themselves. The devices were typically attached to machines or components and were stationary. The concept of IoT devices connected to movable devices emerged quickly, such as vehicles or smartwatches, but they were still attached to that application. 

What caught my attention recently was how one provider - Anyline - has freed the sensors from the 'things' they sensed with a configurable set of capabilities and workflow software. Formed in 2013 in Vienna, Austria, Anyline already has an impressive collection of customers, including Europcar, Discount Tire, Cox Automotive PepsiCo, TireHub, as well as national governments and the United Nations.

I spoke with Simon Brooks, Head of Product Marketing and Jonathan Stotts, Senior Communications Manager. As they pitched it:

Anyline is known as a leader in mobile data capture, enabling over two hundred organizations to accurately capture and digitize data. Now, Anyline is taking the next step, together with our customers to help them unlock even more value from the data they capture.

In one use case, the sensor was a handheld smartphone that photographed the intended object and analyzed it with embedded inferencing. Handheld recording devices are familiar, but Anyline provides the facility to build bespoke applications using commodity devices such as smartphones. 

Anyline's claim is that it can scan and digitize dozens of data points – from IDs and passports to barcodes, utility meters, license platesand tire numbers. Its use of machine learning and neural networks even works offline for convenience and security.

For example,  Anyline worked closely with Discount Tire to create a computer vision solution to scan the tire DOT number in real time. Anyline developed a DOT scanner, which captures the 17 black digits on the tire sidewall faster and more accurately than the human eye. The application quickly reports on the tire's condition using thousands of images of tires.

These are then analyzed by AI models that compare thousands of scans with detailed data about the type, size, application (vehicle and location on the car) and date of manufacture. Discount Tire technicians can complete an assessment typically in under five seconds per tire by swiping each tire once, scanning the DOT code with the tool’s camera in real-time, and recording hundreds of images.

Anyline focuses on the automotive industry and applications for fleet maintenance, commercial tire services, meter reading (for countries with sparse smart meters), shelf management, and last-mile delivery. As these applications collect the volumes of data, they deliver extensive analytics capabilities as an added service, 'informating' the application.

Automating the front end of a business provides an opportunity to 'informate' and make decisions in the company's back end, according to Stotts: 

The world is full of valuable data locked away in physical objects. Anyline mobile data capture digitalizes analog information that we interact with daily. This connects the physical and digital worlds seamlessly by reading and measuring any entity using AI/ML and computer vision. Once this analog data is captured, it can be combined with existing digital data sources, providing new insights to drive more informed decisions in real-time, improving customer experience and optimizing the business process.

My take

Industrial IoT (IIoT) has to overcome many problems. Dumb sensor devices are being replaced with more intelligent ones that record and transmit telemetry and employ analytical capabilities ranging from rules-based logic, such as decision trees, to embedded machine learning.

Unfortunately, most of these implementations are provider-specific, and standards must be faster to keep up with innovations. Because these devices are often in remote, dispersed locations, battery life is an issue, as well as communication costs to networked devices and the central location, such as data centers and the cloud. Software updates must be coordinated to ensure compatibility of the data formats and semantics.

Using an independent device like the smartphone solves many of those problems. However, in fairness, its application does not extend to typical IIoT situations – having someone manually scan oil wells or jet engines in the air isn't practical. 

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