IoT News Roundup

Zebra teams up with ARM, Atmel on IoT starter kit; Spanish insurance provider offering pay-as-you-drive insurance; Antenova releases tiny 2.4 GHz antenna; RetailMeNot, Gimbal to extend beacon trials.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
May 22, 2015

Zebra Offering IoT Starter Kit

Zebra Technologies, which offers a range of wireless products and services to help companies track assets, individuals and transactions, has partnered with chipmakers ARM and Atmel to develop the ARM mbed IoT Starter Kit for Zatar, Zebra's IoT technology platform. The kit is designed to help companies begin developing their own IoT solutions quickly and easily. It includes Atmel's SAM W25 Xplained PRO prototyping and evaluation platform, which comes with a pre-configured Atmel SMART ARM Cortex M-based microcontroller.

The packaged offering also includes ARM's mbed operating system for IoT devices, which provides all of the connectivity, security and device-management functionalities needed to create connected devices. The kits includes wireless protocol support for devices that will communicate over a wide range of radios, including Bluetooth Low Energy, Ethernet, Thread, Wi-Fi, ZigBee IP, ZigBee NAN and 6LoWPAN. Users will then be able to connect devices to Zebra's Zatar IoT cloud platform. The Zatar platform, which includes an app, a gateway device and cloud-based software, can be used to manage printers, RFID readers and other electronic devices remotely.

Next Seguros Using Novatel MiFi for Auto Insurance Tracking

Next Seguros, a Spanish automobile insurance provider, is now offering drivers a pay-as-you-drive (PAYD) insurance model, using the Novatel Wireless MiFi Drive MT3060 II on-board diagnostic (OBD) device. Drivers who insert the module into their car's OBD port will be able to pay for insurance based on the number of miles they drive, which the Mi-Fi module tracks and transmits to Next Seguros via a cellular network. Next Seguros claims that it is the first insurance company to offer PAYD insurance plans in Spain.

Insurance companies generally ask drivers to estimate the mileage they expect to drive during the course of a year, and the insurer then sets its rates based on this estimation, but customers who drive fewer miles could qualify for a premium reduction. Insurance companies are beginning to offer PAYD plans because they believe the approach incentivizes customers to drive fewer miles and thus reduce their chances of getting into an automobile accident.

Next Seguros also leverages the connectivity that the Novatel Wireless technology provides, in order to offer its PAYD customers extra services and products. This includes maintenance alerts, towing services and special parking access.

Antenova Announces Tiny Antenna for Range of Devices

Antenova, a British manufacturer of small, surface-mounted antenna modules, has announced its first antenna designed for consumer devices using the Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and ZigBee protocols, for which small device size is a priority. Examples of such devices include wearable fitness trackers, watches, headsets and health monitors. The Weii 2.4 GHz ceramic antenna is tiny, measuring 1 millimeter by 0.5 millimeter by 0.5 millimeter (0.04 inch by 0.02 inch by 0.02 inch).

The company claims that the attributes of its ceramic antennas include low dielectric losses, strong signal isolation performance and resistance to detuning. It also reports that the antenna performs well when in close proximity to the human body.

Antenova offers manufacturers CAD footprint files for the Weii to assist them in integrating the antenna into various printed computer board designs and ground plane sizes. It also provides engineering assistance, advice regarding RF design layout and antenna integration, and customer support.

RetailMeNot, Gimbal, Expand Partnership

RetailMeNot, a mobile phone application that provides electronic coupons to users based on their shopping interests, has extended its partnership with beacon maker Gimbal, as part of RetailMeNot's efforts to expand its reach to consumers. The two companies have already begun pilot projects with an undisclosed list of national retailers and shopping malls, which they now plan to expand. In pilot stores, RetailMeNot users, whose presence is determined by Gimbal beacons, receive special offers as they pass or enter a store. At the pilot locations, RetailMeNot sends a customer coupons relevant to a specific section of the store, based on that individual's location.

The RetailMeNot was recently named best shopping app of the year by the People's Voice Webby Awards.

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