While walking with our chief architect in Zurich a few weeks back, we spotted a local garrison with a lot of barbed wire, cameras and watchtowers around it. The Swiss accuracy was impressive even there - so punctually and symmetrically were the wire circles installed on top of clean concrete walls.
As usual, we started contemplating about what part of that, if any, could be spimed, or enhanced with our Platform. Always trying to find the hardest challenge, Erik picked the plain barbed wire.
After being invented in the US in 1873, barbed wire quickly conquered the world as a cheap and effective security provider for all kinds of uses. Although its manufacturing is now highly automated, the basic design remains virtually unchanged. Due to its good electrical conductivity, it was also used as a cheap phone line within and between farms in the American west, long before rural telecom companies emerged.
So what would a spime barbed wire product look like? Well, as noted, there's some inherent connectivity. The wire is most often used to fence borders and areas which are guarded, so it would be beneficial to quickly know when someone cuts the wire somewhere. Also, when installing the wire to unmarked borders, accurate geographical positioning is important.
In an hour, we ended up with a concept for a spimed barbed wire product, sold in reels with two preconfigured, solar-powered end nodes. First node includes a mobile connection, while both nodes have a GPS/Galileo positioning chip. Nodes communicate through the wire, and in case the connection breaks, time-domain reflectometering (TDR) is used to calculate the exact cut location. Wire is also used to sense magnetic fields, caused by nearby metallic objects like armored personnel carriers.
When a reelful of wire is first installed, the mobile node starts synchronizing with our platform, which in turn positions the fence on an accurate map. Many reels can be daisy-chained and synchronized to the same spime farm, presented to the user as a straightforward web portal, with mobile and full browser interfaces.
The essence is that after the first reel is installed, the portal is a full security system which grows whenever new reels, or other peripherals, are added. No expensive IT hardware project needed, just unreeling and a bit of mobile network coverage.
Adding the said nodes to a 200m reel would not even double the current reel price (of some $180), including a spime slot in our Platform. So who wants to be the first one offering Digital Barbed Wire?