Data 'black box'aimed at telecomms industry

Auckland-based Optimex has developed a device-independent data management "black box".

Auckland-based Optimex has developed a device-independent data management “black box”.

The six-year-old firm, which employs 10, has spent about three years developing what it calls XaD (Optimex acquisition device).

Optimex business development manager John Lawrence says the box can collect data from any device from a photocopier to videoconference facility, and transmit it to anyone who wants it.

The unit uses a compact flash memory card with a capacity of 8MB to 240MB and an in-built PCMCIA modem card. Two serial ports at the back allow users to record data from two devices simultaneously. It stores the data and delivers it to a central host computer for processing on a dial-up basis or using the internet. It can work with Centrex (a phone system service offered by some telcos), PBX and voice over IP systems, says Lawrence.

Optimex produces reports for firms wanting data on telecommunications use, but the industry demanded more detail. Working with New Zealand-based Compuspec Industries, it developed the XaD. Similar devices exist elsewhere, but the firm claims its system uses newer technologies, so is smaller, cheaper, uses less power at lower voltages and has more sophisticated functions.

The device has just gone to market, with early New Zealand users including New Zealand Post and Gulliver Pacific Travel.

Gulliver Pacific IT manager Nick Murray says the XaD has worked well since the travel company installed it a couple of months ago to collect data from its phone system. The data is sent to Optimex, which returns reports on phone use.

Murray emphasises the utilitarian nature of the device. “It’s just a black box. It’s the least exciting thing I can talk about.”

Optimex technical manager Tony Maxwell says the XaD device will mainly be used by the telecommunications industry. It will be used, for example, to identify data that can expose toll call fraud. Security use is another possibility, such as recording the opening and closing of doors. “Anybody needing to record and store reasonable amounts of data [can use XaD]. It is suitable for any business, including an IT department,” he says.

Optimex says it has carried out “substantial” market research through Trade NZ for North America and the UK, gaining certification to operate the device in those countries. It is also working with Compuspec on selling the system to overseas telcos to help them in their billing. The firm has also just received $20,000 from the Ministry of Economic Development to help with XaD’s development.

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