Xalt: Unleashing the potential of IoT data
Author: Monica Miller Rodgers
Hexagon recently released its latest innovation, Xalt, at HxGN LIVE 2018. Unlike any other offering in the company’s portfolio, though, Xalt is not so much a technology as it is a framework for the convergence of various technologies.
Lauded as a “radical new approach to accelerating digital transformation,” Xalt is Hexagon’s cornerstone in creating Autonomous Connected Ecosystems (ACE) and fast tracking customers to discover the full potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) data. To learn more about this revolutionary concept, Reporter spoke with Josh Cranfill, Hexagon digital transformation advisor for Geosystems and Safety and Infrastructure. Here’s what he had to say.
There is certainly a lot of buzz around Xalt since the announcement, but what is Xalt really?
Xalt is a new framework for fast-tracking our customers’ ability to harness IoT data and ultimately accelerate their digital transformation journey. Ultimately, Xalt will underpin all of Hexagon’s digital solutions (i.e. it will come “standard”/embedded) and enable interoperability with future solutions as they develop. The goal of Xalt is to create Autonomous Connected Ecosystems (ACE), a state where data is connected seamlessly through the convergence of the physical world with the digital and intelligence built in to all processes, from the core to the edge of a customer’s network.
How does Xalt work?
We’re taking disruptive technologies we’ve been working on in Hexagon for some time and addressing IoT points of leverage, which include:
-Delivers enterprise security out to the edge, connecting B2B with a microservice framework and cloud analytics
-Provides a secure and nimble framework that is native iOS- and Android-ready with zero client footprint.
-Processes, combines and analyses IoT and sensor data at the edge of the network and puts it to work with artificial intelligence (AI)
-Provides plug-in enterprise integration to a single intuitive interface for legacy connections, databases and IT systems
-Supports predictive maintenance, change and anomaly detection through analytics, visualisation, and sensor and data fusion
-Visualises 2D and 3D data, including point clouds, optimised for all mainstream OS, mobile, and web platforms
There is quite the distinction with Xalt as a framework and not a platform. What’s the difference?
We’re purposely positioning Xalt as a “framework,” and not a “platform,” which will help it stand out from all the IoT platforms that are primarily sold as generic “toolkits” to do IoT-related things. Xalt is much more than a platform, which is why we are calling it a framework (i.e. an enabler of a connected ecosystem). Typically, a software platform is defined as an environment for developing and running software, but Xalt – much more than such an environment – permits seamless interoperability of foundational, modern, digital capabilities for configuring and operating transformative applications, leveraging Hexagon’s key domains: reality capture, intelligent positioning, situational intelligence and industrial design.
Speaking of those other platforms, what makes Xalt different?
While there are other IoT platform technologies in the market that offer a subset of the partial stand-alone capabilities of Xalt, they don’t offer the full spectrum:
- Permitting process interoperability in addition to data orchestration (i.e. synchronising everything in the ecosystem, like workflows and machines).
- Tight integration with Hexagon’s core technology stack in fundamental domains, such as reality capture (measurements, physical world inputs and digital realities); intelligent positioning (location and control of machines, objects, and vehicles); situational intelligence (active knowledge of events, locations, and processes); and industrial design (smart digital assets for use beyond design).
- Unique architecture for interoperability and distributed computing where edge computing, edge-cloud orchestration, and AI everywhere are core foundational elements.
- While configurable and horizontally scalable, Xalt is agnostic to other architectural elements (i.e. data, analytic tools, BI platforms, geospatial platforms, mobile platforms) and operating systems of other solutions.
- Xalt will be used to augment the capabilities of Hexagon’s existing solutions, adding significant value to our end users.
- Xalt is tuned to specific vertical applications, as opposed to the holistic approach of other platforms, wherein diverse solutions from different suppliers must be integrated, for both data and processes, or “one-size-fits-all” universal platforms offer limited integrability, efficiency, productivity, and applicability, which typically lead to patchworks that are very difficult to manage.
How proven are Xalt’s capabilities?
The capabilities of Xalt are proven in hundreds of applications in place for many years (Edge Client, Edge Frontier, Visualisation SDKs, Cloud Mobility and Orchestration, Enterprise Integration, Advanced Analytics/AI modules, etc.). The Xalt framework permits enhanced integration and seamless interoperability of these capabilities, as well as a plug-in with other Hexagon’s capabilities, functionalities, and platforms (e.g. Smart M.app, 5D, Positioning and Navigation Solutions, Reality Capture Sensors and Software, Dispatching, Design and Planning Solutions, etc.). Essentially, Xalt is an evolution of existing solution platforms merged together with a best-in-class innovative architecture and ongoing continuous development with Hexagon’s divisions. For example, we are continuously developing new AI modules as well as data composition frameworks (data-fusion: mining, preparation, compressing, streaming, representation in multi-platforms, etc.) for different applications.
Why did Hexagon see the need to create Xalt now?
Xalt represents an official commitment from Hexagon to its customers to focus time, effort, and R&D on powering Hexagon’s full portfolio with Xalt’s capabilities. Ultimately, Xalt will underpin all of Hexagon’s digital solutions (i.e. it will come “standard”/embedded) and enable interoperability with future solutions as they develop, drawing on Hexagon’s deep domain expertise in multiple vertical industries worldwide. Some of Xalt’s capabilities are already embedded in Hexagon’s solutions, combined or stand-alone. This convergence of disruptive technologies, combined with Hexagon’s deep domain expertise and solutions, will ultimately equip all of Hexagon’s customers to quickly adapt to technology shifts and innovation, new business models, and changing marketing demands.