Stellar Startups: Larotec

Larotec detects the presence of intruders seeking to 'invade' base stations' space via remote video detection, temperature change, or even odor.

robot hand 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy)
robot hand 88 224
(photo credit: Courtesy)
If you run say, a public utility like the gas company with gas valves all over town, how do you keep track of them? Get a lot of eyes, that's how! And indeed, not too long ago, that's the way managers responsible for large deployments of electronic, computerized, or other devices had to manage security - by sending people into the field to do a "sweep" of the conditions of their equipment. The drawback with such a system is obvious - you have to spend a lot of money paying those eyes, and by the time they get around to checking out a particilar installation, damage or other problems might have already crept in. A much improved method of "remote patrol" would be for managers to implement something like the Web2M system created by Israeli startup Larotec ( Larotec, which has been in the business providing m2m (machine to machine communication and monitoring) systems for several years, now has a system where sensors installed at remote sites can read and communicate data, even for large installations of devices spread even over a wide area. In other words, the gas company would be able to keep tabs on all its valves, communicating with the home office via Larotec's Web2M system, and alert management when and where a problem arises - enabling them to immediately take corrective steps and ensure that a problem does not turn into a crisis. While there are other systems out there that do the same thing , said Alon Lumbroso, CEO of Larotec, none do it quite as good - or as efficiently. "We collect data using installed communications infrastructure, including the Internet and cell phone networks, meaning that we don't have to build, administer, or charge customers for a new communications system," said Lumbroso. Remote devices that need to be monitored are equipped with a chip - like a cell phone SIM card - that communicate their status to the home office. "Once a change that shouldn't takes place, the server is alerted, the database is updated - and the customer is alerted, via SMS, a popup screen on their computer, e-mail, etc.," said Lumbroso. Since the monitoring system is Web based, customers can check out the status of their devices - ie the company's investment infrastructure - anytime and anywhere. For example, one of Larotec's customers in Israel is Cellcom, the cellphone company, which uses the system to monitor the base stations at its antennas around the country. There are about 2000 of these stations, and keeping track of them without a system like Web2M would be very impractical, to say the least. The system can be designed to keep track of dozens of parameters, depending on the customer's need. Cellcom uses the system currently to keep track of the temperature of the stations to make sure they don't go into "meltdown." But the company has big plans for its Larotec system. "We are working with Cellcom to expand the list of factors they monitor," said Lumbroso adding that one of them included detecting the presence of intruders seeking to "invade" the base stations' space via remote video detection, temperature change, or even odor. Larotec has other customers in Israel as well, including Israel Aircraft Industries, as well as a presence in many other countries, especially Argentina. It's a great way to save money and reduce risk, said Lumbroso, and it can work for customers, large and small. "One of the most prominent features of this technology is its ease of use and system flexibility, which enable the connection of a wide range of devices or sensors in almost any environment to a central control and command system, which adapts itself to the existing communications infrastructure and enables the collection and management of large amounts of information," said Lambruso. "Larotec's Web2MT enables quick deployment, logistic flexibility, scalability and modularity, all of which remove the existing barriers off other systems offered in the market for wireless communication between devices." Larotec recently got a boost of $3 million, in an investment round led by Doron Almog's Athlone Global Security Group, which specializes in investing in companies dealing with security. Almog, of course, former head of Israel's Southern Command, is an expert on security "like the back of his hand," as they say in the IDF. The fact that Athlone has chosen to invest in Larotec is significant for both companies. "Secured wireless communication between sensors and devices is a very important element in all security systems and solutions. In the HLS market, sensor management is a high growing segment," said Almog. "Larotec's technology enables fast deployment, scalability, modularity and flexibility of logistics - which are all essential factors for removal of the barriers for efficiency which other available solutions are facing."