In the 21st century version of “Honey, I’m home!” your door lock will wake up your light switches to adjust mood lighting for your arrival, and will also be chatting to your thermostat to make your rooms comfy and save energy while you’re away.
The IoT is a “network of networks” of unique units or “things” that communicate without human interaction using dedicated network connectivity. From smart homes and cars to office buildings, hospitals and transportation, the Internet of Things will touch every aspect of our lives. Consumers, businesses, cities and governments will be able to control everything around them (well, almost). It is predicted that by 2020 just in North America there will be more than 7.5 billion connected objects.
Iconic game company Atari, after disappearing from our radars for years, has just announced a new venture that could turn the maverick company into the disruptor we once loved. The partnership with French company Sigfox will bring in a wide range of new Atari connected products, from the very simple to the highly sophisticated, including home, pet, lifestyle and safety devices, featuring Sigfox’s low-energy technology. So what is it that makes Sigfox so interesting?
The key is simplicity and low energy consumption. All these little objects chattering away need to connect through a network. At the moment, there are three possible ‘protocols’ that connected objects developers can choose: Sigfox, LoRa, and NB-IOT global network. Sigfox is separating itself from the competition because their solution requires much lower power and therefore allows objects to immediately connect to the network and stay connected for a long time. IoT is in its infancy. Imagine objects that could go for years without recharging. That’s the kind of game changer we’re talking about.
While the bandwidth that the Sigfox network uses is extremely limited, TechCrunch reports that at 12 bytes per message it is sufficient for most sensors, and it’s extremely low in terms of power consumption. In a demonstration at the Connected Conference in Paris last month, the featured objects already included a small GPS tracker that can last for an entire month, and a moisture sensor with an expected battery lifetime of two years.
“Our network bridges the virtual and physical worlds simply, reliably and inexpensively” said Sigfox CEO Ludovic Le Moan, “ while supporting features that are limited only by the imagination.”
Ludovic Le Moan and Christophe Fourtet co-founded Sigfox in 2010 in Toulouse. Having raised $150 million in 4 rounds of funding, they currently serve a whopping 311 million people in 18 countries. They have a very un-French goal as regards tech: they are aiming for world domination. Responding to strong demand for energy-and-cost efficient IoT connectivity in the US, Sigfox, just announced that it is expanding deployment of its network in 100 cities across the country in 2016. That’s just the latest in a series of announcements that saw them partner up with giants like Microsoft, SFR and the city of San Francisco.
The IoT remains a relatively new and fluid market. One thing we do know: whoever gets a juicy slice of this market is in for a big win. Business Insider predicts that nearly $6 trillion will be spent on IoT solutions over the next five years.
Sigfox is collaborating with the City of San Francisco to provide connectivity for smart-city programs that address issues such as air quality, water usage, intelligent lighting, traffic and transportation. In November 2015, Sigfox hosted a Smart City IoT hackathon, along with the city’s Office of Civic Innovation and the Department of Technology, Texas Instruments, Microsoft Corp., Plasma, Accenture and other technology leaders. More than 150 developers and makers participated to build prototypes of connected hardware that can be used on the IoT to improve city services and make operations more efficient.
On March 31, 2016, Sigfox announced its collaboration with Microsoft to Connect IoT devices to Microsoft Azure IoT Hub. The integration allows customers to connect, monitor and control millions of IoT assets, simplifying development and rollout of large-scale IoT solutions.
March 2016, Altice, an international telecom and media group, its subsidiary SFR, the second-largest French mobile network operator, and Sigfox announced they would integrate Sigfox connectivity in the group’s service offering in France and internationally.
It is becoming truer and truer that data is only as good as the use we mine it for. Imagine a world where you’re cycling home from work and your bike tells you how far along you are into your weekly fitness goal, and that you may want to take transport tomorrow because it may rain, or you could take the car in but you’re low on gas. This world is not the future, it is right here, right now.