Location: Chesapeake Innovation Center in Annapolis.
Funding: The company received $75,000 from the Maryland Technology Development Corp., $70,000 from Maryland Industrial Partnerships and additional funding from angel investors. The company is looking for early-stage capital investment and has raised about half of its $500,000 target.
Big idea: InvisiTrack is developing a tracking and location technology that works in areas where RFID and GPS technologies are limited, such as inside buildings or in dense urban environments. GPS does not work at all indoors, said Russ Markhovsky, president and founder, and without a centralized infrastructure a GPS unit is capable of telling you only where you are, not where other people or things are in relation to you. RFID tags work only up to a few hundred feet, do not perform well indoors and require a fixed infrastructure. InvisiTrack's proprietary technology allows tracking tags placed up to a mile apart to communicate with one another indoors and out, Markhovsky said, and does not require a fixed infrastructure. "The early units will be the size of a cell phone," he said. They eventually will be reduced to the size of a watch face, he said.
How it works: The technology uses a distributed network that allows individual units to "talk" to each other, or see what other units see, expanding their range. Information is relayed to a tag connected to a PDA or laptop, which in turn outputs information about where all of the tags are. Markhovsky acknowledged that there are privacy concerns but said that when the system is used by consumers "it's self-contained, so nobody else will have access to that information."
Where the idea was hatched: Markhovsky said the idea had been germinating since he was in high school. "I have a habit of not keeping track of things very well and I thought, 'There has to be an easier way to find stuff,' " he said.
Example of use: The company plans to focus on marketing its product to public safety organizations, the military, and facilities such as nursing homes and retirement homes. "You can use it for keeping track of firefighters running into burning buildings, prisoners, or schoolchildren on a trip," Markhovsky said. Consumers could use the same technology on a smaller scale to find friends at a concert, their kids at the mall, or their car in a parking lot. Eventually, the company hopes to fully integrate the technology into cell phones and PDAs, and two-way radios.
Price: Early systems, for a few dozen users, would cost $6,000 to $10,000, Markhovsky said. Military systems would be more expensive; smaller systems for consumers would be less. Markhovsky said he anticipates the cost of the tags will drop significantly as the company sells more.
Who's in charge: Markhovsky; Rick Durkee, chief operating officer; and Les Levine, chief executive.
Employees: Three in Maryland and nine internationally. The company is hiring.
Web site: www.invisitrack.com
Partners: The National Institute of Justice's Office of Law Enforcement Technology Commercialization.
Where will you be in five years?: "I hope that we're able to provide this service to the markets that we're going after," Markhovsky said. "From a saving lives and public safety perspective, I think it's important."
-- Andrea Caumont