October 21, 2014

Internet of Things: Cellular Data Net for Inanimate Objects Goes Live in France

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Get ready to hear even more about the Internet of Things going forward.

From Technology Review

All of the apps, movies, and games consumed on tablets and phones are only available because cellular networks deployed wireless technology to connect people to the Internet wherever they are. French startup SigFox thinks it can help usher in a second mobile Internet boom—by building cellular networks to serve not people but, well, things.

SigFox is focused on connecting cheap sensors and “dumb” home appliances to the Internet. The goal is to make all kinds of appliances and infrastructure, from power grids to microwave ovens, smarter by letting them share data. The general concept, known as “the Internet of Things,” has been discussed in academic circles for years, but it has yet to come to life.”

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“SigFox claims that a conventional cellular connection consumes 5,000 microwatts, but a two-way SigFox connection uses just 100. The company also says it is close to rolling out a network to the whole of France—an area larger than California—using just 1,000 antennas. Deployments are beginning in other European countries, and discussions are under way with U.S.-based cellular carriers about teaming up to roll out its technology stateside, says [Thomas] Nicholls [Chief of Business Development at SigFox]. “SigFox can cover the entire U.S. territory with around 10,000 gateways, whereas a traditional cellular network operator needs at least several hundred thousand,” he says. This should make deployment significantly faster, and cheaper.”

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The technology could also find use in home medical devices and gadgets. Wi-Fi has been used for early projects such as Internet-connected bathroom scales and inhalers, but this wireless technology is far from a perfect fit. To save battery life, gadgets don’t keep a Wi-Fi connection active at all times, which can mean waiting a few seconds for a connection to be reestablished before using the device. A device with a SigFox connection could send data instantly, says Nicholls, without any Wi-Fi configuration or network.

Direct to SigFox Web Site (in English)

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Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.