Madix Case Study
October 8, 2019
Madix Inc produces store fixtures and display systems for retailers throughout the US. A long-time customer of SDG, Madix captures data-tagged images of shipments prior to sending them out in order to document the pre-shipping state of inventory in case of a damage claim. Madix requested an update from SDG to their image capture and retrieval system which currently utilizes rugged cameras to send tagged images to an internally-hosted network shared drive.
The current photo solution was providing some scalability issues for Madix. First, the image processing software being used required a connection to an internal FTP server, using outdated technology and systems. Second, as images were being pushed to a network shared drive, categorization and viewing was tedious. A client needed to use a VPN to access images over the network and they could only be grouped by a single field represented by a network folder. Finally, the barcode-enabled cameras being used were nearing their ‘end-of-life’ timeline from the manufacturer and Madix needed a solution for scaling up their integration of the photo solution rather than scaling back.
Solution: Cloud Photo System
SDG Systems enhanced their cloud PhotoTag application as a white-label solution for Madix. The application allows users to associate data with images through barcode and RFID data capture hardware and to easily sync those images to a cloud service, making them available to other instances of the application as well as a web interface.
A key component of the solution is to collect information and to associate that information to images. Utilizing the SDG’s ID Engine, the PhotoTag application can capture barcodes via scanner or camera scanning as well as paving the way for future iterations of the project to be able to utilize NFC and RFID data capture. Once images are captured, they are tagged with a time, date and GPS location, providing crucial insight into the image’s subject. Additionally, the user can post-process images adding predefined categories, user-defined tags, and descriptive text.
By utilizing a sophisticated synchronization framework, SDG was able to quickly ‘cloud enable’ the PhotoTag application. Once images are captured, they are uploaded to the cloud in a background process, providing access to the back end and to other users of the application. Since this process is bidirectional, users can quickly receive updates from each other, regardless of their location. This provides a vital communication tool and mechanism for sharing data in a secure, enterprise-specific manner.
Once images are captured and annotated, they become easily searchable and categorized. Pre-defined categories let system administrators control important image attributes. User-defined tags from barcode, RFID or manual input provide users with a flexible mechanism for in-field, dynamic categorization. GPS coordinates lock images in space and Timestamps provide key information for long-term audits. These features can all be used on the handheld and web application in order to gain visibility and insight over the data captured.
The PhotoTag application is protected by an authentication and authorization service. This allows control over access to the application as well as more granular control over the visibility of each image. Since it uses the Authentication web service as a login provider, the PhotoTag application automatically filters images based on ownership and authorization rules.
The mobile PhotoTag application was developed on Android, the most widely distributed phone operating system in the world. Using the ID Engine scanning software, it can be deployed to many different devices, providing support for camera scanners as well as hardware scanners from Honeywell, Zebra, and other industrial devices.
Currently, the application has only been tailored to collecting barcode scanning and NFC tags. A near-future enhancement will add ID Engine RFID scanning capabilities. Additionally, the web interface provides mobile phone access to the application, allowing for quick deployments to Apple Products until a native iOS client is developed.