On April 12th, 2001, in the middle of the dot com crisis, the Belgian limited company FilePool, quickly running out of funding options for independent growth, was sold to US-based EMC, at that time the world market leader in digital storage systems. For the region and the challenging time frame, the $50M deal was considered a rare success.
Let’s look back at the facts, however. Started as Wave Research in 1992 by Jan Van Riel and Paul Carpentier, FilePool had discovered and developed an entirely original approach to the true parallel scaling of networked storage infrastructures. Leveraging 128-bit cryptographic hash functions as unique identifiers, as “addresses” for content objects on a network, they developed, demonstrated and patented the first “Content Addressed Storage (CAS)”, the precursor to all cloud storage.
By broadcasting a unique identifier (UID) onto the network, with all storage nodes listening to the transmission, the associated object could easily be identified and retrieved from whatever node it happened to be stored on, just like calling a cell phone will locate it anywhere in the world. The number of nodes, i.e., the scale, is simply irrelevant in that mechanism, so it can be huge without problems. With a few minor variations, UIDs are the secret sauce at the base of all cloud storage as we know it today.
That cloud storage industry, non-existent in 2001, is now a $76B market, still growing at 26% CAGR towards $390B in 2027. The lion’s share of the business in that market is North American, with Amazon, Google and Microsoft as main actors. Nearly none is European, let alone Belgian. We let the opportunity slip away in 2001 and were happy about it, too.
Fast forward 20 years. The startup Twintag, started in 2017 as Esoptra NV by the same founders of FilePool, is now leveraging the power of UIDs in a new field, this time much closer to the user/consumer. Take a physical product and somehow attach a unique identifier - a twintag - to it that points to a small, individual piece of digital storage in the cloud. This virtual twin can store or bring together all information, content, communication channels and digital behavior related to that very specific physical item.
Driven by ever increasing market pressure related to economics, customer experience, ecology and durability, it is Twintag’s vision that, moving forward, every whole product will soon be expected to consist of a physical body and this kind of dedicated, digital soul.
To stay true to its promises of connectivity and cost, this digital soul has to live in the cloud, remote from its physical body. As a logical consequence, the ONLY conceivable way to connect one to the other is a truly unique identifier. To properly support and deploy this architecture at scale is exactly the mission of the platform that Twintag built in the course of its 4-year existence and that is proving itself every day to its early customers.
A simple and popular format for a twintag UID that connects a physical product to its digital soul is a QR code. By a simple scan of any smartphone camera, without any app, download or registration, the digital soul behind it can be brought to life as specific product information or as a two-way communication channel into the proper support resources. It can drive all digital behavior towards the multiple user personas (end user, installer, inspector,…) that interact with the product. It can evolve over time to reflect ever-changing content and regulation in essential domains such as durability and recycling.
You can even think of a twintag as a chip without batteries or wiring. You can stick it onto almost any physical product, it is Internet connected when it counts and it has infinite storage and processing power in the cloud. All of that at less than one euro apiece in most applications to less than a cent in very high volumes, with no integration costs required.
So, if you are looking to unlock the digital soul within your physical product, you’ve clearly come to the right place.