Already a decade? For reels?

Valentine’s Day 2021 represents a special anniversary for reelyActive: ten years ago today the first sketches of the “reel” concept were inscribed in Jeff’s notebook below (left page).

Reel sketches

At the time, the concept was entitled daisy chain / icicle light receivers, the idea being that radio receivers could be connected in series like strings of lights. At scale, we imagined long cables of equally spaced receivers being distributed on reels, hence the term reelceiver which would later be adopted. In fact, reelyActive owes its name to the reel concept combined with active radio-frequency identification (RFID).

Reel pitch

The first pitch of the reel to prospective co-founders, illustrated in the slide above, took place seven months later. And, thanks to co-founder Traian’s assembly of the first JTR-02 prototypes on New Year’s Eve, the first successful test of daisy-chained reelceivers would take place on New Year’s Day 2012, as seen in the photo below, in the building adjacent to that of the world’s first scheduled radio broadcast.

First reelceiver test

The first generation of reelceivers greatly simplified asset tracking and personnel tracking applications using our own 915MHz active RFID tags, but the real (reel?) breakthrough came in 2013 when Bluetooth Low Energy first became standard on consumer mobile devices. With a second-generation reelceiver able to detect any Bluetooth Low Energy device, the concept of bring-your-own-device real-time location (BYOD RTLS) became a distinct possibility:

In 2021, even after eight years, that same Bluetooth Low Energy reelceiver continues to gain in relevance and is a part of all of our ambient data gateways in one of several modular forms. And our reel technology page outlines why:

The reel overcomes the power & connectivity challenge inherent to every deployment. Simply be plugging together ubiquitous network cables, both power and connectivity are delivered with bulletproof reliability.

In fact, there are reelceivers which have been in continuous operation since 2012, save for the power and network outages from which they have always automatically recovered!

Reel of Three

Admittedly, the insight behind the reel is non-obvious to those whom have never faced the challenge of deploying infrastructure throughout a “smart space”. Perhaps it is therefore fitting that the flagship deployment of our unique reel architecture is in a building of truly unique architecture itself: the world’s tallest inclined tower!

Reel Inclined Tower

As we discuss in our previous blog post, the reel infrastructure in the Desjardins DTM deployment in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium Tower enables use cases that we hadn’t even imagined when the reel concept itself was first imagined a decade ago today.

The reel is today enabling use cases we hadn’t even imagined when the concept itself was first imagined a decade ago.

Indeed, the reel has stood the test of time, remaining not only relevant—but also peerless—over the past decade. And, even if today our leading product and innovation has become our Pareto Anywhere open source software in lieu of the enabling hardware, we could not be more proud to have the novel reel as the namesake of reelyActive.

Happy Valentine’s Day!   For reels!

GR8 changes ahead

It’s July 2020, and today we celebrate reelyActive’s eighth anniversary of incorporation amidst a global pandemic and a tumultuous global climate, both political and planetary. If anything is certain, it is that great changes lie ahead.

After the team flew to San Francisco in March to proudly accept an Elastic Search Award for “making physical spaces searchable like the Web,” within a matter of days, everything changed with the global spread of COVID-19. We abruptly lost our single biggest active client to bankruptcy, and, due to lockdown, lost access for visitors and prospective clients to our new Park Avenue Research Centre (connu également comme Crap), which was core to our business strategy.

We had to change our business to survive. And we did.

Businesses that are adaptive and resilient stand the best chance to survive the indefinite disruption to the economy and to their operations. Moreover, as a “new normal” emerges, such businesses are most likely to see the inevitable changes as opportunities rather than obstacles. Those businesses are now our best prospective clients.

Almost exactly one year ago we asked Are we selling discomfort? The answer is YES, and it is good that we are because buying (and selling!) comfort isn’t a viable strategy for the foreseeable future.

The businesses, organisations and individuals that will emerge the strongest are those that find their comfort in continuous change, embracing a culture of continuous improvement.

And if the “new normal” which emerges is to be led by such forward-thinking actors in critical numbers, is it too ambitious to imagine this as the definitive start of the third industrial revolution, Industry 4.0 and/or catallaxy? Many of the authors featured in our bibliography would surely argue that this essential to the advancement of humanity—if not the very survival of our species!

Again, if anything is certain, it is that great changes lie ahead. From a macro perspective, it is not difficult to argue that such change is both necessary and overdue. It’s a good time to embrace change, and we at reelyActive enter our ninth year with exactly that in mind.

The Web turns 30!

The World Wide Web turns 30 years old today, March 12th 2019, and its inventor, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, has asked its citizens to help build a timeline of the web’s history. Given that reelyActive has existed on the Web for about a quarter of its history, we thought it’d be fun to look back at our own Web presence since 2012.

2012: First landing page

Our first landing page showed off our newly minted hardware — purely in monochrome — and provided guided visitors to either a serious or a silly site. In 2012, real-time location of individuals (aka tracking people) was controversial, and the silly site was intended to show visitors that we were indeed looking critically at ourselves and the platform we were developing. Indeed there’s still a sillyActive filter on this blog!

2012: The “serious” site

Yes, this was our non-responsive-design, fully monochrome, “serious” developer-oriented website in 2012. Fixed 960px width because who needed more resolution than that, right? We had just learned PHP, which was applied generously throughout. Credit to Twitter and LinkedIn for the social plugins in the footer that are still functional at the time of writing!

  ↪ Journey back in time to www.reelyactive.com/serious/

2013-2014: The “corporate” site

Finally colour! And JavaScript animations! Curiously enough, our first major experience with JavaScript was server-side with Node.js, which then gave us the confidence to apply it client-side, in this case with the TweenMax JS framework. Despite its non-responsive 960px formula, this website received a lot of appreciation for the Technology and Applications animations which were refreshingly accessible to a broad (non-native-English-speaking) audience.

  ↪ Journey back in time to www.reelyactive.com/corporate/

2014-2016: The “context” site

By 2014 we had finally gone responsive, abandoning ground-up web design for the lovely Creative Commons frameworks from HTML5 UP that we continue to use to this day. There was even a full-screen explainer video and fresh graphics from local designers.

  ↪ Journey back in time to context.reelyactive.com

2016-present: Our current landing page

Our current landing page has benefited from many iterations, and the most powerful changes are the ones behind the scenes. Many of the pages include linked data in the form of JSON-LD, which became a Web standard in 2014. This is what allows Google and other search engines to extract rich content, using Schema.org as a vocabulary. All of our IoT initiatives, such as Sniffypedia.org, rely heavily on these latest standards which are extending the reach of the Web to the physical world.

  ↪ Visit our webpage at www.reelyactive.com

Thank you Sir Tim Berners-Lee for your enormous contribution to humanity in the form of the Web, and to everyone who has contributed to its evolution and maintenance these past three decades. We were pleased to give a friendly nod to your contributions in our most recent scientific publication, and we hope that Mrs. Barnowl will have the chance to meet you and thank you in person, as she did Vint Cerf for his contribution to the Internet!

Purpose, commitment and accountability

Today is the sixth anniversary of reelyActive‘s incorporation, and to mark this occasion we reached out to all our current and past team members and collaborators, inviting them to record themselves reciting a passage from the Copenhagen Letter. The result is the following:

It is becoming an anniversary tradition for us to reflect on our past, as we did for threelyActive, asking how wrong we were on accelerator day one, as well as last year, when we took the time to document reelyActive’s history before contemplating the next ambitious 5-year plan.

Having now completed one year of that ambitious plan, we can affirm that our greatest challenge is no longer one of technology. If we are to achieve our mission of unlocking the value of the data you choose to share through the realisation of our vision of ubiquitous machine-contextual-awareness at the service of humanity, our greatest challenge is one of enabling the long-term and sustainable pursuit of this, our purpose.

How pleased we were, earlier this month at the PIRATE Summit, to be introduced to the concept of steward-ownership, which we discuss in our previous blog post, and to the Copenhagen Letter, which we read aloud in the video. The latter is a succinct summary of many of the ideas shared by our team (the why), and the former is an alternative legal ownership model for purpose-driven companies (the how).

We shape technology today. While it may not be easy, there are viable paths to put these ideas into practice. This anniversary we remind ourselves to hold one another accountable for the path we choose to pursue. That is our commitment.