PanGo Networks

Finding users, delivering tailored data

PanGo Networks Framingham, Mass.

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Location:Framingham, Mass.

Company name: Combines "pan," for "personal-area network," referring to the company's original focus on short-range, Bluetooth, wireless products, and "go," to suggest mobility. Conveniently, "pan" also can have the sense "of, pertaining to or comprising all," in this case, mobility.

How did the company start? Mark Pollard, chief architect, co-founded the company in September 1999 with the goal of creating "proximity services" among users in short-range wireless networks, such as Bluetooth. By early 2000, PanGo shifted its focus to 802.11.

Funding: $6 million, including a $4.4-million round that closed in December 2003.

CEO: Michael Campbell, who was previously CEO of Michael James & Company, a management consulting firm.

Products: PanGo Proximity Platform.

Finding users, delivering tailored dataA quality control engineer climbs into the nose of a partially built jetliner, opens his notebook and connects to the aerospace company's wireless LAN.

The WLAN pinpoints his location and then sends him data and links to computer-aided design plans, 3-D models, the recent history of change orders and the current schedule for subcontractors installing equipment. When he moves to the front landing gear assembly, he's presented with a different set of data and content.

This is what PanGo's client/server software is designed for: mapping relevant data and applications to a user's location, be that in a manufacturing plant, a museum or a metropolitan police district. The software uses data from WLAN radio signals to figure out where the device is. Then a set of PanGo applications, or third-party applications written to the PanGo API, funnels content and access privileges to that user.

PanGo's software runs on Windows 2000, XP, Solaris and Linux servers, and on Windows 2000, XP, Win CE 3.0 and PocketPC 2002 clients. It includes the Panorama Location System Protocol, which handles communications between the programs; and LocationSurveyor, which collects data about the radio frequency signals around the site. LocationSurveyor draws on information sifted from the IEEE 802.11 WLAN by the Pangaea Mobile Interface, which is about 200 lines of client code that runs on the wireless handheld or notebook. Using proprietary algorithms, LocationSurveyor accurately calculates the user's location, which it then passes to SiteManager for tracking users as they move in and out of the various radio-defined spaces. SiteManager works with AppDirector, which acts as an applications server, hosting programs from PanGo and third-party software vendors. SiteManager summons from AppDirector the location-aware services available to a user at a given location. The software also tracks where users have been, for how long, and exerts access control.

PanGo plans to extend this idea to equipment tracking. New software can monitor and report on radio tags slapped on, say, hospital stretchers or wheelchairs. The company this month expected to begin internal testing of a third-party 802.11b radio tag, with a product release aimed for later this year. (Rival Bluesoft already offers a battery-powered WLAN tag.)

PanGo competes against companies such as Newbury Networks and Bluesoft, both of which require users to deploy separate hardware scanners around a building or campus to monitor airwaves and identify locations. Ekahau, a Finnish company, has a software-only approach like PanGo.

PanGo offers an API, development tools and ready-to-use applications, such as Intelligent Information Manager, which maps Web content with locations.

PanGo says it has seven customers (four using the software on their production networks) of its software, which has been available since the summer of 2002.

Pricing for the Proximity Platform ranges from $5,000 to $50,000 per site, depending on the number of access points. Pricing for the separate applications varies based on the number of access points, clients or assets, such as radio-tagged equipment, but generally starts at around $3,500.

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