IoT News Roundup

By Rich Handley

In-car Cleverness, Aeris expand global connectivity service for IoT automotive telematics; Airfi's Catalyst system streamlines connectivity for device OEMs; Semtech, Tata Communications launch LoRa technology center in India; ZigBee Alliance, Thread Group demonstrate ZigBee products running universal language; SoftServe boosts vehicle security with smart biometric authentication.

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In-car Cleverness, Aeris Expand Global Connectivity Service for IoT Automotive Telematics

Vehicle technology specialist In-car Cleverness (IcC) has announced that it is collaborating with Internet of Things provider Aeris to offer IoT automotive cellular data and charge-free roaming to its customers throughout Europe and worldwide. This includes automotive dealers, rental operators and auto leasing and insurance companies.

With global support of such cellular technology standards as Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) and Long-Term Evolution (LTE), the Aeris and IcC collaboration is designed to boost fleet flexibility and provide opportunities for IcC’s customers to increase their cross-border growth.

IcC, a part of the Automotive & Insurance Solutions Group of Companies (AIS), provides telemetry services to improve the management of corporate fleets, rental companies and dealership groups, as well as reduce costs and improve safety and utilization. As IcC’s solutions expand across the United Kingdom and Europe, the companies report, its collaboration with Aeris will allow the partners to support customers wherever they are located and regardless of what systems they use.

Airfi’s Catalyst System Streamlines Connectivity for Device OEMs

Airfi, a global provider of technologies that simplify cellular connectivity for devices, has announced the availability of Catalyst by Airfi. This turnkey platform is designed to enable original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to quickly and easily integrate connected devices with cellular networks without having to invest significant amounts of time, money and effort.

According to the company, Catalyst provides a platform from which companies can activate devices and enroll customers to monetize their products. Airfi has partnered with carriers in North America to bring its platform to customers in a variety of flexible configurations. and plans to roll out the system globally next year. Features include MyCatalyst, an end-user lifecycle-management application; RESTful API, which allows for the integration of an OEM’s customer system into the Catalyst platform; and Catalyst Central, a portal and interface for managing end users.

OEMs can leverage Catalyst to bring products to market more quickly, by removing the technical barriers of working with multiple carriers and network infrastructures in different markets. The system also helps to generate additional revenue for carriers, by enabling them to more quickly and efficiently support OEMs interested in using their networks. “Catalyst eliminates the commercial and technical challenges OEMs face working with carriers to connect their products,” said Dariush Zand, Airfi’s CCO and cofounder, in a prepared statement.

Cellular connections can be a challenge for OEMs looking to quickly bring products to market, but it is crucial for devices that require connectivity and security while on the move or where Wi-Fi may not be available. Catalyst by Airfi can be used for a variety of applications, ranging from low-bandwidth services, such as tracking, to high-bandwidth services, such as video recording for use with security cameras.

Semtech, Tata Communications Launch LoRa Technology Center in India

Semtech, a supplier of analog and mixed-signal semiconductors, and Tata Communications are preparing to launch the first applications center dedicated to LoRa technology in Mumbai, India. The center will allow enterprise customers and Internet of Things solution providers to deploy and test their applications via a LoRaWAN-based low-power, wide-area network (LPWAN).

Following successful LoRaWAN network trials in Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru, the two companies have worked together to deploy 35 IoT proofs-of-concept (PoC) based on LoRa technology across these cities. The PoCs cover a wide array of applications, including sensors for remotely monitoring air conditioners and safety-deposit boxes; energy-management systems used to optimize the use of electricity, gas and water; and multiple smart-building and smart-city applications.

“Tata Communications has successfully tested India’s first IoT network in some of the largest cities in India,” said VS Shridhar, Tata Communications’ senior VP and head of Internet of Things, in a prepared statement. “The current LoRaWAN-based network allows millions of devices to be connected, and our goal is to have 200 million end devices connected by 2019. We believe application centers like the one established by Tata Communications and Semtech in Mumbai will play a significant part in helping us co-create this growth.”

“Tata Communications’ efforts to deploy its IoT network and recruit enterprise customers to develop strong, LoRa-based PoCs for a wide range of IoT applications will help improve the lives of India’s citizens,” said Francois Sforza, the senior director of business development for Semtech’s Wireless and Sensing Product Group, in the prepared statement. “We are committed to working with Tata Communications toward this goal by creating IoT application centers that help foster and drive innovation throughout India.”

Semtech will showcase its LoRa wireless RF technology, wireless charging, smart sensing, smart switching and other semiconductor platforms targeted at fast-growing markets at the CES 2017 conference, being held in Las Vegas on Jan. 5-8. Semtech’s platforms will be used in a number of consumer products demonstrated at the show, including IoT applications, wireless chargers, wireless charging-enabled devices, mobile devices, wearables and tablets.

ZigBee Alliance, Thread Group Demonstrate ZigBee Products Running Universal Language

The ZigBee Alliance, an association of companies creating, maintaining and delivering open, global standards for the low-power wireless Internet of Things, and the Thread Group, an organization focused on making Thread the foundation for the IoT in the home and beyond, have announced that multiple members of both organizations have demonstrated prototypes that run the ZigBee Alliance’s universal language for smart devices on Thread networks.

The demonstrations, shown privately at the Thread Group’s Members Meeting in November 2016, are set for public display in both organizations’ booths at the CES 2017 conference, being held in Las Vegas on Jan. 5-8. The demos highlight accelerating momentum behind an emerging ecosystem of connected products that will interoperate over Thread IP networks using the widely deployed ZigBee language.

“As our two organizations near completion of our respective product development solutions that bring the ZigBee universal language to Thread networks, multiple members have already demonstrated the value of this liaison agreement and its promise for delivering a consistent product experience over IP networks,” said Grant Erickson, Thread Group’s president, in a prepared statement. “That we have so quickly reached the technology demonstration stage, with many product, silicon and solutions providers participating, is clear evidence that market demand is driving interoperable IP-based technologies. Our members are working hard to meet this demand, and as a result of their early investments, their product development cycles are well underway.”

Both organizations will showcase CES demonstrations from such companies as MMB Networks, Nortek, NXP Semiconductors, Osram, P&G, Resolution Products, Schneider Electric, Silicon Labs, Somfy, Yale and Zen Thermostat. The Thread Group will exhibit in Sands Expo booth #40343, while the ZigBee Alliance will exhibit in Sands Expo booth #40920.

“A key strength of the ZigBee Alliance’s technologies is our application layer—the only mature, widely deployed, interoperable and open IoT application language,” said Tobin Richardson, the ZigBee Alliance’s president and CEO, in the prepared statement. “Alliance members from chip suppliers to consumer product manufacturers have worked hard to bring our proven application layer to Thread’s exciting IP mesh networking technology. This creates compelling new value—allowing vendors developing ZigBee solutions today to leverage that investment across multiple networks and markets.”

The Thread Group and the ZigBee Alliance have worked to coordinate their roadmaps for specifications, branding guidelines, and test and certification programs for smart products speaking the ZigBee language that run on Thread’s IP-based networks. The Thread 1.1 specification is currently available to members, and the ZigBee Alliance will announce details at CES for their solution that enables their universal application language to run over Thread. This will be followed by the completion and launch of their test, certification and branding programs. In addition, the organizations will collaborate to enable concurrent certification, thus simplifying the process for product vendors that want to leverage both technologies.

SoftServe Boosts Vehicle Security With Smart Biometric Authentication

SoftServe, a global digital technology solutions provider, has announced BioLock, an electrocardiogram (ECG) biosensor analysis system for continuous driver authentication and health monitoring, a key Internet of Things asset. The smart system ensures device-to-device communication between ECG biosensors embedded into a vehicle’s steering wheel and mobile devices, to easily recognize and monitor users with a simple touch.

As vehicle technology advances, so must the security systems and processes put in place to protect the lives of drivers and vehicle operation. Factors such as theft, fatigue and ill health all contribute to significant risk for those operating vehicles. Incorporating real-time processing and biometric authentication, BioLock provides an ECG biosensor analysis system to proactively monitor the health of drivers and prevent vehicle theft.

“Safety and security are a top priority for Overhaul and our clients moving high value cargo,” said Barry Conlon, the CEO of Overhaul Group—a SoftServe partner that hopes to integrate BioLock into its online marketplace for the commercial trucking industry in the future—in a prepared statement. “BioLock’s driver authentication technology aids our commitment to prevent cargo theft while keeping our driver’s safe.”

Verification based on ECG analysis offers a number of benefits compared to alternative authentication methods, such as passwords, security cards and fingerprint recognition, the company reports. In addition to being easy to use, this method does not require that a user remember or change passwords. What’s more, an ECG is nearly impossible to fake or spoof. The smart system can also be customized to meet the needs of any business or end user looking to protect data or physical assets, including secure payment processing, bicycles, doors, mobile devices and laptops.

“In the current era of the Internet of Things, secure authentication is one of the main requirements for any smart system,” said Juan Turruellas, SoftServe’s EVP of worldwide business development, in the prepared statement. “Our biometric authentication system will not only protect sensitive data, it can also protect a variety of corporate assets from theft, in this particular case, vehicle theft as unidentified users will be unable to start the engine.”