Data cards are SO last decade. From now on, data will live in the Cloud. At least that's Trimble's take on how farmers will store and transfer data in the second decade of the 21st century. "We kind of crossed the hurdle of swapping [data] cards," says Mike Martinez, market manager for Trimble's Agriculture Division.
Trimble's product development theme for several years has been the wireless transfer of data from remote vehicles to the Internet where it can be accessed from anywhere. A keystone for Trimble in this wireless realm is the Connected Farm concept, which is a suite of products and services that seems infinitely expandable.
The goal is to put "real time information in a farmer's hands no matter where he is," says Joe Dennison, vice president for Trimble's Agriculture Division.
So it is no surprise that at the summer farm shows, Trimble featured four new products that build on or use the Connected Farm platform.
Let's start with the Connected Farm Dashboard. It's a web page that looks a lot like the screen of a smartphone or tablet. It has widgets a farmer can customize -- adding and subtracting to create a screen that is most useful to him. Tap a widget and you get a snapshot of what's happening on the farm: Where are the tractors? What's the weather forecast? How are the commodity markets doing?
For more in-depth information, the farmer can use Dashboard to launch "a more feature-rich application," Martinez says. The whole idea is "to enable quick decision making."
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Dashboard runs on smartphones, tablets and computers. A user can log into it with existing accounts, including social media. Dashboard also can inhabit the new TMX-2050 display, which Trimble also introduced this summer.
The TMX-2050 ($6,595 base price) is the top of the line display in Trimble's catalogue that flows from an EZ-Guide 250 to the more sophisticated CFX-750 and FmX. It has a multi-constellation GNSS receiver capable of supporting Trimble's RangePoint(TM) RTX(TM) and CenterPoint(TM) RTX correction services, which use satellite signals only for RTK-like accuracy. The TMX-2050 also has VRS and true RTK capabilities. The display features an integrated high-definition video camera.
The TMX-2050 uses the Android platform, which Trimble describes as flexible and user-friendly. It is also modular and expandable, which seems appropriate for Trimble's expansion strategy.
To emphasize that strategy, the company this summer expanded its offerings with two acquisitions:
-- RainWave is an Alabama-based company that specializes in "virtual rain gauges." The system uses a nationwide network of data sources, such as Doppler radar stations, to calculate rainfall in specific areas. It has four customer bases: consumer, engineering/ construction, government services and agribusiness.
For $25/month/site, Trimble customers can receive daily emails detailing rainfall at a specific site. Each month, they also will receive a monthly rainfall report. The system does not measure snow amounts or soil moisture.
RainWave is accessible on Dashboard.
-- IQ Irrigation is a New Zealand-based company that specializes in variable rate irrigation by programmable on/off control of individual nozzles. It promises, "Exactly the right amount of water at the right place and the right time," says Chris van der Loo, another Trimble Agriculture market manager.
The system is accessible from web-based tools and is "brand agnostic." It will be available in the U.S. in the first half of 2014, van der Loo says.
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