Published on April 14th, 2015 | by Jack Eagle
4Gon Interview MetaGeek on Chanalyzer 5, Eye.P.A, and optimizing your wireless products with the Wi-Spy product range
David Frith, Marketing Manager at 4Gon Solutions catches up with Joel Crane, Human Interface at Metageek. The pair discuss the Wi-Spy product range including the MetaGeek Wi-Spy 2.4x, MetaGeek Wi-Spy DBX and MetaGeek Wi-Spy Mini, Eye P.A, and how Wi-Spy products can give your wireless products better performance.
4Gon: Broadcasting from various countries around the world, using wireless technology, this is 4G Uncovered, a 4Gon Solutions UK Podcast. I’m David Frith and joining us today is Joel Crane, Human Interface at Metageek, thanks for joining us today Joel.
Joel: Hey, thanks for having me.
4Gon: No problem. So to start with, please could you give the 4Gon Audience a brief history of Metageek and what it is best known for?
Joel: Absolutely, so Metageek started out back in 2006 when our founder Ryan Woodings, he was working at a company where he was programming wireless mouse receivers and he ran into a problem where he was encountering some interference from other devices nearby, especially during his demos for the product, and so he needed to overcome that interference but the problem that he ran into was that the company only had one spectrum analyser and it was big and unwieldy and it was on a kart, it was very expensive, and it was noisy and you had to share it with a whole bunch of other software developers, so what he ended up doing was actually hacking the firmware on a wireless mouse receiver to make it function as a spectrum analyser. And after he was done with that and it solved his problem, he thought ‘this is really cool, maybe other people would need it too’. So he started selling them and pretty soon, making all the trips to the post office just wasn’t very efficient, having to wait in line for international orders every day and so he said ‘I think it’s time to start a company’. And since then, Metageek has evolved into a company that makes wireless troubleshooting tools that was born out of the original Wi-Spy, and that’s where we are today.
4Gon: Please could you give us a breakdown of the Metageek Wi-Spy product range, such as the Wi-Spy DBX, and Wi-Spy 2.4X?
Joel: Absolutely. So there’s so some software that goes along with the hardware, the software is called Chanalyzer and the hardware is called Wi-Spy. And there’s a few different models out there, there’s the Wi-Spy 2.4X which is our fairly low cost 2.4GHz only spectrum analyzer. And then there’s the Wi-Spy DBX, and DB stands for dual band, and that one can operate in either the 2.4 or the 5GHz band, so the software that works with that is called Chanalyzer and we’ve just introduced a new product that’s called Insider Office, which also works with another Wi-Spy called the Wi-Spy Mini. The Wi-Spy Mini is pretty similar to the 2.4X but we’ve shrunk it down really really small and it’s just a very low cost, very compact spectrum analyser that ships with Insider Office.
4Gon: That’s great, thank you. Could you tell us more about the Chanalyzer 5 and the Eye P.A. software applications and how they work?
Joel: Yeah absolutely, so i’ve mentioned Chanalyzer which is our enterprise grade spectrum analysis solution and then I mentioned Insider Office, which is primarily like a WiFi troubleshooting tool with a little bit of spectrum analysis thrown in, it’s more of a purpose built tool. And then there’s Eye P.A. and Eye P.A. stands for Eye Packet Analysis because it’s a visual packet analysis tool, you can use a capture device like an AirPCap Nx or even just a Macbook Air or Macbook Pro to generate a Pcap file and open that up in Eye P.A. And Eye P.A. was born out of looking at WireShark and seeing how, while WireShark is an amazing tool that we all love and respect, it doesn’t really help you visualize what’s going on in your wireless environment, so we built Eye P.A. to be complementary to WireShark so you can actually drill down and filter down through your packet capture then export those packets to WireShark if you want to get a closer look. It’s really intuitive, it’s really cool, it’s probably the coolest thing that we’ve done, I highly recommend checking out Eye P.A. if you haven’t had a chance yet.
4Gon: Ok great. At 4Gon Solutions, we are a Master Distributor for Ubiquiti, Ruckus and 4ipnet. How can the Wi-Spy product range help customers to optimize their UniFi and airMAX products to give the best performance?
So there’s several things that you can see with the Wi-Spy, what makes the Wi-Spy special is it’s a spectrum analyser, it can look at the raw radio frequency activity around us and that gives us some really cool information. First off, if there are any non-WiFi devices operating on the same frequencies, you can actually see them so you get to see stuff that you’ve never actually seen before. You can also look and see how busy a channel is, you can say “wow that channel is 50% utilized” and remember we can only have one WiFi device talking on a channel at a time. And so if we can look and see well there’s something talking on this channel 50% of the time or more, then we know that we’re probably going to see some performance problems on that channel, so you can see non-wifi interference, you can see approximately how busy the channel is, and if you need to get more information about what clients are talking, more or less, or which access points are talking, you can fire up a packet analyser like Eye P.A to really look into that in depth. But Wi-Spy really gives you a look into your wireless environment that you don’t otherwise get, it just opens up the invisible world of wireless.
4Gon: And do Metageek have any plans for any new Wi-Spy Spectrum Analyser products in the near future?
Joel: We don’t have any plans formal or official plans for a new Wi-Spy device or any new software right now. But what we are working on rapidly is Chanalyzer is still getting developed constantly, and we just announced a major new update for Insider Office that has all kinds of functionality, and the development team for Insider Office has already started on another development sprint to add even more really, really cool features, we’ve got some great stuff coming up for Insider Office, so no new products right now, but rapid, rapid development on the current product line.
4Gon: Ok fantastic. And finally, what do you feel gives Metageek the edge over other WiFi Analyzing companies and products?
Joel: We have an edge over the competition because we are a very small and agile company, there’s no shareholders, there’s nobody telling us what to do. We were formed of very, very small development teams that are fairly autonomous that all work together, and so we’re able to execute ideas very, very quickly, we work in very short software development sprints. We take all the feedback from customers and we feed that directly into those sprints for what we develop, and we have an environment of creativity, our company is very careful to foster an environment where we can be creative as workers here, so not only are we able to make really, really awesome WiFi tools, but we’re able to have a lot of fun doing it, we’re just really, really happy and really, really excited about what we get to do every day.
4Gon: Ok that’s excellent. Thanks for that Joel, thanks for joining us today and giving us that insight into the Metageek product range. This has been a 4G Uncovered Podcast brought to you by 4Gon Solutions. For more information, please visit www.4gon.co.uk.
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