IoT News Roundup

By Rich Handley

Autodesk selects Sensera Systems to exhibit 3D Internet of Things positioning solution; Telensa joins Qualcomm accelerator program for smart-city applications; Avnet acquires IoT company Witekio; IoT firm Lutron Electronics joins Zigbee Alliance board of directors; Wireless Broadband Alliance, LoRa Alliance release IoT white paper.

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Presented here are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
Autodesk, Sensera Systems;
Telensa, Qualcomm;
Avnet, Witekio;
Lutron Electronics, the Zigbee Alliance;
the Wireless Broadband Alliance, and the LoRa Alliance.

Autodesk Selects Sensera Systems to Exhibit 3D Internet of Things Positioning Solution

Sensera Systems, an Internet of Things (IoT) solution provider that offers sensor-based products providing real-time data, has announced that it has been selected by Autodesk to participate in the latter’s Residency Program at its Technology Center in Boston, Mass. Autodesk is a provider of 3D design, engineering and entertainment software. The Residency Program, held at Autodesk’s Technology Centers in Boston, San Francisco and Toronto, provides workspaces for teams from industry, academic and startup communities in the areas of construction, manufacturing and design.

Sensera joins other residents at the Boston Technology Center, which focuses on industrialized construction, digital fabrication, automation and robotics in construction, and other ideas transforming the built world, including architecture and engineering. The center is intended to foster an open community in which industry leaders can work alongside each other on a shared vision of the future of construction.

As part of this program, Sensera will demonstrate its real-time 3D location services and smart sensor visualization to visiting customers, other residents and Autodesk. The Sensera installation will show centimeter-precision 3D location tracking across several levels of a building in which a crane operates, as well as meter-precision 2D location tracking on a factory floor.

The program is designed to demonstrate that in order to monitor positions and movements in real time, tags can be affixed to any asset, such as a forklift truck, or on moving parts, such as a crane hook, with sensor data from each tag automatically tied to its location. An Intel NUC edge device runs location engine software and IoT middleware with data analytics and a user interface.

“Our team has installed an industry-leading real-time location solution that will focus on smart construction by enabling personnel, tool and material tracking capabilities,” said Ralph Schmitt, Sensera’s CEO, in a prepared statement. “This installation uses multiple radio frequency (RF) technologies to optimize the use case down to centimeter accuracy. This is critical in next-generation worksite safety and workflow optimization. We’re excited that thanks to Autodesk, we have a unique opportunity for potential customers and partners to touch and evaluate our solution.”

Telensa Joins Qualcomm Accelerator Program for Smart-City Applications

Telensa, a provider of connected street lighting and smart-city data applications, has announced that it has joined Qualcomm Technologies‘ Smart Cities Accelerator Program. The program connects cities, municipalities, government agencies and enterprises with solutions based on Qualcomm’s smart-city technologies, designed to help accelerate the transformation of smart urban infrastructure and services.

Telensa’s latest device is the Multi-Sensor Pod (MSP), an array of streetlight-mounted units that measure how people use the city, the mix of traffic on the roads, hyper-local air quality and noise levels. This data is valuable for designing better city infrastructure and delivering more efficient city services, the company reports. Each MSP converts video and radar imaging into detailed real-time insights, using artificial intelligence and machine-learning techniques powered by Qualcomm’s SDM845 processor. This edge processing eliminates the cost of moving raw data to the cloud. Telensa already uses Qualcomm’s products in its Sensor Hub device, a streetlight-mounted unit that connects third-party sensors to lighting and cellular networks.

“Telensa is a global leader in smart street lighting, with more than 1.7 million lights connected globally. In addition to lighting controls, this also provides a platform for pioneering innovation based around these installed networks using Qualcomm Technologies’ technology,” said Sanjeet Pandit, Qualcomm’s senior director for business development and head of smart cities, in a prepared statement. “We welcome Telensa to the Qualcomm Smart Cities Accelerator Program and are excited about the potential for this strategic partnership to accelerate the move towards data-driven cities.”

“As smart-city sensor networks are being deployed at scale around the globe, they demand technology that is resilient, deployment-proven and power-efficient, all delivered sustainably at the right price point,” said Gordon Davidson, Telensa’s executive VP, in the prepared statement. “Qualcomm Technologies’ unparalleled experience in smartphone technology allows it to deliver on all of these requirements, making for an ideal partner. I’m really excited about joining this program and the benefits we can collaboratively deliver to cities, transforming the way they work with data.”

Avnet Acquires IoT Company Witekio

Global technology solutions provider Avnet has signed an agreement to acquire Witekio (formerly known as Adeneo Embedded). Witekio is a privately held company with expertise in software and embedded systems that helps developers overcome the technical challenges and complexity of developing Internet of Things (IoT) solutions.

The addition of Witekio to the Avnet ecosystem follows the company’s acquisition of software firm Softweb Solutions in December 2018 (see Avnet Acquires Softweb Solutions, Offers IoT Applications). Witekio develops software for every layer, from devices to the cloud, while Softweb develops cloud-based software to connect, manage and analyze data. Witekio’s user-centric technology includes connected hardware, device architectures and applications.

“The combination of Witekio’s embedded software and design expertise with Avnet’s already robust technology ecosystem further strengthens our overall solutions strategy, which is unparalleled in the market today,” said Pete Bartolotta, Avnet’s president of business transformation, in a prepared statement. “With Witekio’s expertise, we can more rapidly deliver a complete hardware, software, cloud and middleware solution that delivers insights based on the customer’s specific business case.”

“We’re aligned with Avnet in our approach to IoT solutions as well as our company cultures,” said Yannick Chammings, Witekio’s founder, in the prepared statement. “We’re excited to become part of Avnet and further accelerate IoT adoption. We completely embrace Avnet’s strategy to build vertical and scalable platforms that can quicken time-to-market and reduce financial investment while still offering a high level of customization to all players that want to tackle IoT opportunities.”

The transaction is subject to prior regulatory approval and is expected to close before the end of 2019. The terms of the agreement have not yet been disclosed.

IoT Firm Lutron Electronics Joins Zigbee Alliance Board of Directors

The Zigbee Alliance, an organization comprising hundreds of companies that create, maintain and deliver open, global standards for the Internet of Things (IoT), has announced that Lutron Electronics, a provider of lighting controls and automated shading solutions, has joined its board of directors. Lutron will work alongside other IoT companies to bring wireless experiences to users in residential and commercial settings.

“Lutron is focused on taking care of the customer and delivering value with superior goods and services,” said Pekka Hakkarainen, Lutron’s VP of government and industry relations, in a prepared statement. “We are passionate about creating great customer experiences that promote comfort and enhance well-being, both in the home and workplace.”

Lutron offers more than 15,000 products for residential and commercial spaces. From single-light dimmers to lighting and shading control solutions and lighting fixtures, the company sells products in more than 100 countries.

“Lutron has a history of impressive innovation, smart business decisions, and respect for environmental impact,” said Tobin Richardson, the president and CEO of the Zigbee Alliance, in the prepared statement. “They’re an ideal addition to the esteemed collection of companies that currently comprise our board, our collective goals and interests, and the individual representatives that dedicate their time, resources, and energy to the open standards charge.”

Wireless Broadband Alliance, LoRa Alliance Release IoT White Paper

Mobile operators, enterprises, cities and other Internet of Things (IoT) market players can gain access to a wealth of new IoT use cases by combining two unlicensed connectivity technologies, as illustrated in a new white paper released by the Wireless Broadband Alliance and the LoRa Alliance.

Developed with input from mobile carriers, telecom equipment manufacturers and advocates of both connectivity technologies, the white paper, titled “Wi-Fi & LoRaWAN Deployment Synergies: Expanding Addressable Use Cases for the Internet of Things,” illustrates new business opportunities that are created when Wi-Fi networks traditionally built to support the IoT are merged with LoRaWAN networks traditionally built to support low-data-rate massive IoT applications.

Massive IoT applications are less latency-sensitive and have relatively low throughput requirements, the organizations report, though they require a huge volume of low-cost, low-energy-consumption devices on a network with excellent coverage, which can be achieved using Wi-Fi networks. The white paper addresses the growing popularity of IoT use cases in domains that rely on connectivity spanning large areas that are able to handle a huge number of connections, ultimately driving the demand for massive IoT technologies.

According to the paper, Wi-Fi connectivity covers short- and medium-range use cases at high data rates and may require more power, making it suitable for people-centric, mains-powered applications like real-time video and Internet browsing. LoRaWAN covers long-range use cases at low data rates, making it suitable for low bandwidth applications, including in hard-to-reach locations, such as temperature sensors in a manufacturing setting or vibration sensors in concrete. When utilized in conjunction with one another, Wi-Fi and LoRaWAN networks optimize a number of IoT use cases, the organizations indicate, including:

Smart buildings and smart hospitality: Both technologies have been deployed for decades throughout buildings, with Wi-Fi used for security cameras and high-speed Internet, and LoRaWAN used for smoke detection, asset and vehicle tracking, room usage and more. The paper identifies two scenarios for convergence of Wi-Fi and LoRaWAN, including accurate asset tracking and location services for indoors or near buildings, as well as on-demand streaming for devices with battery limitations.
Residential connectivity: Wi-Fi can connect billions of personal and professional devices in homes, while LoRaWAN is used for home security, access control, leak detection, fuel tank monitoring and other applications. The paper recommends deploying LoRaWAN picocells that leverage Wi-Fi backhaul to the user set top box to expand coverage of home services to the neighborhood. These neighborhood IoT networks can support new geolocation services, while serving as a communication backbone for demand-response services.
Automotive and smart transportation: Wi-Fi is used for passenger entertainment and access control, while LoRaWAN is used for fleet tracking and vehicle maintenance. Hybrid use cases identified in the paper include location and video streaming.

The paper also outlines a number of deployment models, details front-end and back-end integration and security processes, and provides testimonials from organizations regarding their Wi-Fi and LoRaWAN deployments. “Wi-Fi and LoRaWAN are two important technologies utilizing the unlicensed spectrum, and they already address a large proportion of IoT use cases,” said Tiago Rodrigues, WBA’s general manager, in a prepared statement. “The ‘Deployment Synergies’ paper highlights the ways in which these technologies are impacting private-public business models and enabling IoT services, while also identifying ways in which the technologies complement one another and can be used to further expand the Internet of Things.”

The white paper was cowritten by members of the WBA IoT Work Group and the LoRa Alliance. Input for the paper was provided by a number of companies and organizations, including BT, Boingo, BSG Wireless, Charter Communications, Connexin, Eleven-X, ER-Telecom, Orange, Tata Communications, Unity Media, Objenious, Semtech, Syniverse, Abeeway, Actility, BSG, Kerlink, Maxima Telecom, Microshare, Orbiwise, Senet, Siradel, Skyhook Multi-Tech, the Centre for Development of Telematics and Digital Catapult.

“The reality is that no one single technology is going to fit the billions of IoT use cases,” said Donna Moore, the CEO and chairwoman of the LoRa Alliance, in the prepared statement. “It is collaborative initiatives like this one with Wi-Fi that will drive innovation to solve important issues, leverage an even broader range of applications and, ultimately, ensure the success of global mass IoT deployments in the future.”