IOT News Roundup

PTC sees bright future with Vuforia acquisition; Beecham Research predicts robust growth for Low-Power Wide Area Networks; HyperCat Consortium launches smart city project incubator; Renesas Electronics America adds Icon Labs' Floodgate security to its IoT-focused platform.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Oct 16, 2015

PTC Acquiring Vuforia from Qualcomm

Manufacturing software developer PTC, which acquired IoT application platform ThingWorx in 2013, has now signed a definitive agreement to acquire the Vuforia business from Qualcomm Connected Experiences, a subsidiary of Qualcomm Inc., for $65 million. Vuforia's augmented-reality (AR) technology platform enables mobile application developers to integrate 2D and 3D imagery in order to create special effects that connect the physical world with digital experiences. According to PTC, the acquisition will accelerate its strategy to design technologies and solutions that blend the digital and physical worlds.

PTC says it will continue investing in the Vuforia platform, and in the ongoing support and growth of the Vuforia ecosystem. Vuforia is mostly used in gaming and other consumer-oriented applications built on the iOS and Android operating systems, but PTC is also eyeing its use in augmented-reality applications for smart glasses. A number of industries, including aerospace and automotive manufacturing, are beginning to use smart glasses to enable employees to receive detailed visual instruction or collaborate with colleagues remotely, while retaining mobility and the use of their hands.

Beecham Report Bullish on Low-Power Wide Area Networks

Low-Power Wide Area Networks (LPWANs) are succeeding in usurping cellular technology networks for applications that require widely and remotely distributed machine-to-machine communication needs, according to a new report from market research firm Beecham Research. LPWANs use radio modules that leverage the Industrial Scientific and Medical (ISM) RF spectrum or the TV white space bands. The radio modules support very long transmission ranges (up to 30 miles in rural areas), broadcasting small batches of data periodically, and have low energy demands, compared with those of cellular radios. Sigfox and LoRa (developed by IBM and chipmaker Semtech) are among the LPWAN technology specifications the report highlights.

The LoRa Alliance, formed early this year by IBM, Semtech and more than 10 other technology and telecommunications providers, is working to grow networks that utilize the LoRa protocol. LoRa Alliance member and IoT platform provider Actility announced this week that it is working with Belgian telecom provider Proximus to deploy its LoRa network throughout 10 cities in Belgium and Luxembourg. Sigfox, which recently announced plans to roll out networks in Italy, said this week that it intends to expand into the Middle East and Africa and is opening a Dubai office.

"From a standing start in 2015," the report predicts, "Beecham Research expects that by 2020, LPWANs will provide 26 percent of the total IoT connectivity market, with 345 million connections, marking an end to the near monopoly of traditional cellular networks for machine connectivity."

However, Beecham notes, the cellular industry is working to remain competitive with LPWANs by developing new technology specifications, such as Narrow Band Long-Term Evolution (NB-LTE) technology, a variant of LTE cellular technology optimized to meet the performance requirements of IoT nodes. The full report is available for purchase on Beecham Research's website.

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