D6 Labs' News

Digital Six Laboratories Staying Ahead of Technology Curve



Posted on Monday, July 2, 2018. Authored By: April Sandefer, Oklahoma Restaurateur




  If you remember using a rotary phone... you're not
old.
  If you remember when phones were the size of
Satellite phones... you're not old.
If you are talking to someone who says he started
in his industry when people were still talking on analog
cellular phones…you’re still not old, but you sure might
feel that way.
  This month's Oklahoma Restaurant Association
featured Allied Member is Steve Montgomery,
chief executive officer for Digital Six Laboratories.
Montgomery seems to be a quiet guy, until you ask about
his business, at which time he really lights up and it's not
long until any Baby Boomers and Generation Xers in the
will likely be lost in the abyss of tech jargon.
  "I'm a technology guy, so I love technology,"
Montgomery exclaimed. “The thing I love about what
we do (at Digital Six) is that our technology has a
long-term impact on the customers who use it and that
means something. You can develop fad technologies
that sell well today and not be used in five years. If our
customers can operate their businesses more efficiently
and give their owners and shareholders a better return on
investment and if our technology can help quick serve
restaurants deliver safer food, then we've made an impact
on society and that's what I've always wanted to do. I feel
fortunate and blessed to be able to have this opportunity
and that is what makes me excited to come in every day.”
  Digital Six Laboratories is an Oklahoma City-based
"start-up" developer of engineered wireless IoT solutions
and components for commercial and industrial markets.
If you're NOT a Millenial (or a "technology guy"), IoT
stands for the Internet of Things, which, according to
Google, is “the network of physical devices, vehicles,
home appliances and other items embedded with
electronics, software, sensors, actuators and connectivity
which enables these objects to connect and exchange
data.”
  Digital Six Laboratories is around technology
developed by Montgomery, who had a vision of
marketing it to the oil and gas industry, Unfortunately,
he developed the technology right around the time gas
prices tanked in 2015, so he starred looking at other
applications for product. At the time, Montgomery
had been in this particular area of product development
for quite a while, developing battery-powered wireless
technologies for almost 30 years.
  “I was doing this since before WiFi and Bluetooth,"
he said with no hint of condescension in his voice as
he spoke to someone who thinks of those things as
newfangled technological advances. "When I started, we
were still talking on analog cellular phones."
  Montgomery started Digital Six because he saw
an intersection between Web/Cloud technologies and
the ability to have long range, low-powered sensors
to develop applications to help companies run more
efficiently. With the advantage Of Oklahoma's wide open
spaces, he could place and read line of sight sensors miles
away.
  When developing technologies in general,
Montgomery explained his company follows two
principles. One is "Peel and Stick" — "Our equipment
is retrofitted to existing equipment. It really is as simple
as peeling and sticking it to the wall or equipment.
The second principle is "Fire and Forget" — "Once
the product is installed, it should work for the life of
the asset. There should not be any battery changes or
reconfigurations."
  As the concept of IoT was gaining speed in the
technology world, Montgomery jumped in with both feet
and built a comprehensive platform that could manage
many things. While his original intention was an oil and
gas product, he quickly saw other uses for it. "We saw
the need for this technology in healthcare, grocery stores
and Other large facilities," he said. “And, we found that
the predominant place our technology was needed was in
food safety. It was a shocker to me. But it makes sense."
  Montgomery explained that internal policies in quick
Serve restaurants and governmental policies to protect
the health of the consumers cause food safety challenges.
And, when the public is pushing to remove preservatives
from foods, the challenge increases.
  "When you pull the preservatives out with the
antiquated way of handling food safety, it carries a lot of
risk," he said. "Even though technology has proliferated
almost every aspect of QSR, restaurant staff is still using
clipboards, pens and eyeballs to temp refrigerators,
cooked and refrigerated foods. It's not for lack of looking
and trying to find a solution, but finding a solution to do
everything needed is challenging."
  Montgomery met that challenge With FoodSafe.io®, a
solution for monitoring refrigeration, food temperatures

and even employee hygiene. He proudly states that FoodSafe.
Io® is able to do "everything" needed to monitor food safety.
"It's more than just recording temperatures. Are employees
washing their hands? We go into a fast food restaurant and
put a little drop-in kit in their soap dispensers and track how
employees are washing their hands. This information is fed back
to management and they get an alert on their phones if people
aren't washing their hands. They can look at the website and
see data that shows what times of day people are washing their
hands or not washing their hands. If it's a problem, they can
work with their employees to correct it. Without a feedback
mechanism, it is hard to know where you need to improve."
  For monitoring refrigerator and food temperatures,
Digital Six provides a kiosk tablet to the client and it runs an
application that is attached to a Bluetooth probe, enabling the
user to grab the information from the thermometer. "It records
temperature, when it was taken and who took it. Our customers
gain 360 degree visibility into the food safety of their business in
real time."
  Additionally, if temperature readings are not done on time,
FoodSafe.io can send text messages to the management team to
let them know.
  Membership in the ORA has helped Digital Six network
with restaurant leaders, not only in terms of finding customers,
but in understanding the needs of those customers. "The
relationship (with the ORA) has helped us deliver better and
more targeted products."
  Less than three years after starting out as a self-funded
bootstrap organization with support from i2E, Digital Six
now works with about seven large QSRs and 15 to 20 smaller
organizations. "Together, the large QSRs represent about
110,000 locations," he said. "i2E led our investment run and got
us funded which helped us do what we wanted to do. We closed
that last October and have been growing customers and product
ever since.
  Digital Six now has about 20 employees, including
Montgomery's wife of nearly 30 years, Tracey, and their oldest
son, Ryland, who is production manager. Another son, Blake,
16, works for the company part time and their youngest son,
Hunter, is 14.
  Montgomery, who is a third degree black belt, teaches
martial arts in his spare time. His two youngest sons are also
involved in martial arts. "That's pretty much all the extra time I
have. Running a start-up is pretty intense."
  For more information on Digital Six products, go to www.
D6labs.com

April Sandefer, "Digital Six Laboratories Staying Ahead of Technology Curve," Oklahoma Restaurateur, Summer 2018 Edition, pp. 37-39.