Danalto: The IoT start-up with precise positioning intelligence

10 Jan 2022

Albert Baker. Image: Danalto

Trinity spin-out Danalto promises highly accurate global positioning allowing organisations to track assets anywhere.

Danalto is doubtless heading into 2022 on a high. Founded in 2017, the start-up was lauded last year for its technology, raised a further €1m in seed funding and ended the year with a major contract win.

“It’s been a steady build,” said co-founder Albert Baker. “This past year we’ve seen a lot of growth and progress.”

Future Human

Summer marked a major milestone for the internet of things (IoT) start-up, which provides technology for large-scale asset tracking and intelligence, whether indoors or outdoors.

“We use software to make every IoT device reachable and locatable,” said Baker. Core to this is FiLo, Danalto’s first-generation tracking solution, which was released in June 2021.“This was historic as FiLo was the first LoRa 2.4 GHz-enabled positioning intelligence solution to the global market.”

FiLo, the trademarked name for Danalto’s real-time location system, refers to its ‘fine to long range’ capabilities. LoRa, meaning long range, is a wireless technology and the 2.4 GHz spectrum is unlicensed and globally available, thus making it optimal for IoT applications with an international spread. FiLo also uses the ultra-wideband wireless protocol which is suitable for short-range, high-bandwidth communications.

“LoRa 2.4 GHz operates well at long range, meaning FiLo can track areas up to 2 to 5km, while achieving location accuracies of sub-5m,” explained Baker. “LoRa 2.4 GHz is also energy efficient, utilising five times less battery power than GNSS [the Global Navigation Satellite System], Wi-Fi and BLE [Bluetooth Low Energy], with elongated battery life up to five years.”

These are the advantages that set Danalto apart from traditional tracking technology. “The opportunity Danalto has identified is detecting a person or asset’s location indoor or outdoor using minimal infrastructure and at a lower power than incumbent technologies,” said Baker.

“Other solutions on the market today that have been adopted into these industries are either too bespoke, power hungry or require dense infrastructures making them difficult to deploy or economically inefficient. Additionally, these solutions – which are primarily GPS, Wi-Fi, or BLE-enabled – are only operational indoor or outdoor and do not easily cover diverse environments. Because of this, consumers are either stuck paying excessive prices only to be burdened by frequent battery replacements and less than optimal device visibility, or we have found that many have opted out from adopting location technology altogether.”

Combined with FiLo is Cardinal, Danalto’s front-end platform, which gives users a view of their tracked assets in real time. It’s accessible remotely and can be customised into zones to differentiate monitoring sites. “With this tool, users may see the full location history of their assets and understand their current location at a glimpse,” explained Baker. Cardinal can be particularly useful in hazardous environments, sending alerts if a high-risk zone is breached.

‘Danalto aims to make every IoT device reachable and locatable in a diverse set of environments’
– ALBERT BAKER

The kind of tracking offered by Danalto has widespread application, from logistics and supply chains to healthcare and the oil, gas and mining industries.

“Danalto aims to make every IoT device reachable and locatable in a diverse set of environments, from ensuring the wellbeing of elderly persons at home to improving the recovery time of large trailers in a distribution yard that covers 250,000 square metres,” said Baker.

Last month, the European Space Agency gave Danalto’s positioning intelligence the seal of approval with a contract to work on cost-efficient, low-infrastructure, indoor location technologies to complement GNSS (the general team for global satellite navigation systems such as the well-known GPS).

The team, which is now at 15 full-time employees, has also celebrated being nominated for an IoT Global Award and as a finalist for Technology Ireland’s Innovation of the Year.

Now, CEO David McDonald is fresh from showcasing Danalto at CES and the company is starting 2022 strong.

McDonald has a background in engineering as well as plenty of experience leading teams. Fellow co-founder Tom Farrell, Danalto’s CTO, is a technical expert in a broad range of ICT technologies with more than 20 years’ experience and 70-plus patents to his name.

McDonald and Farrell have also had years of experience working together at both Intune Networks and Aperilink, a start-up that was focused on data centre networking solutions.

Baker, who serves as chief operating officer, comes from a background in mobile telecoms in both Ireland and the Netherlands. He also has start-up experience from SiteSpy, another IoT company he co-founded in 2015.

SiteSpy, a Trinity College Dublin student start-up, spun in to the Connect research centre while Danalto has spun out from this centre’s research into future networks and communications.

This means Danalto has been able to leverage everything that comes with the Trinity network and its support services, including an office in the Trinity Technology and Enterprise Campus.

‘Forging partnerships has been key for us’
– ALBERT BAKER

As well as Trinity’s backing, Danalto has been financially supported by Atlantic Bridge, Enterprise Ireland and the same angel investors who invested in Decawave. This notable Irish chip manufacturer was sold in 2020 for $400m.

Decawave co-founder Ciaran Connell, who is now chair of Danalto, told The Irish Times he believes this new start-up might be an even bigger success story.

But first, there’s this year’s goal of securing a Series A funding round, which Baker said they are already working towards. This next stage of funding will enable growth into new markets such as the US and Canada.

From the past four years, Baker has learned that targeting new markets will require a clear identity and messaging. “IoT is a broad term and ensuring digital transformation for our customers is relevant and applicable is important for successful customer engagement,” he said. As a small company, navigating large clients like enterprises either public or private is always a challenge and so forging partnerships has been key for us.”

And while he knows this will take time and effort, Baker said this is already “a challenge we have come through the other side of”.

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Elaine Burke is the editor of Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com