Wireless Matrix revives MobileAria from the ashes

Have you ever stopped to wonder what became of FleetOutlook? In case you haven’t been keeping track, FleetOutlook was a fleet telematics system from MobileAria based on the TruckPC, a multi-purpose on-board computer manufactured by Delphi. The TruckPC fit into a truck’s radio slot and featured an AM/FM stereo and CD player. It was first introduced by Freightliner in early 2001, and later marketed separately by Delphi and finally by MobileAria before it met its ultimate demise.

Delphi worked with MobileAria to develop applications for the TruckPC focused on security such as remote vehicle shutdown. MobileAria would later ditch the Truck PC to develop FleetOutlook as a cellular automatic vehicle location (AVL) application.

In August 2006, Wireless Matrix won a bidding match for MobileAria. Since then, the Reston, Va.-based company has transitioned itself from a reseller and provider of hardware and communication platforms to an applications and wireless data communications provider.

Wireless Matrix is publicly traded with 125 people and 30 million in annual revenues and 50,000 subscribers in North America. The company is focused primarily on utility fleets, with 12 of the top 20 fleets in this market, such as Verizon Communications, says Michael Jakab, vice president of marketing.

With the acquisition of MobileAria, the company added an automatic vehicle location (AVL) application. Two months ago, Wireless Matrix acquired San Francisco-based Sapias, adding route planning and execution functionality and over 3,000 customers. With the acquisition of Sapias, the company began to offer fully-integrated planning and dispatch functionality.

Wireless Matrix combined its new software acquisitions into a product offering called 360 MRM. Suddenly, Wireless Matrix went from 0 to 20 percent of its revenues coming from software applications, Jakab says. Its 360 MRM includes a turnkey AVL capability with route planning and dispatching, or integration with fleets’ existing dispatch applications.

Wireless Matrix is focused on short haul, and service fleets such as propane gas and metro delivery fleets, which are not required to use driver logs and report fuel taxes. These fleets have operations that are complicated by the sheer number of activities on a route, Jakab says.

Wireless Matrix offers the 360 MRM solution on CDMA or GSM/GPRS networks and supports the high speed EDGE network for the GSM/GPRS standard, and the EVDO network for CDMA standard, which is used by Verizon and others. The in-cab equipment is mounted inside the cab for always-on GPS tracking and vehicle diagnostics and driver performance data from the vehicle’s ECM. It is also a gateway to communicate as a mobile hotspot.

Fleets can deploy a rugged laptop or mobile computer and communicate live with the office via an 802.11 link with the on-board gateway.

The base AVL package is a monthly subscription and includes all hardware and wireless services to view and map vehicles, as well as reporting tools that include engine diagnostics and other data from the ECM, such as engine idle time, Jakab says.