IoT News Roundup

Volvo turning smartphones into keys; the Open Connectivity Foundation says it will make the OIC's vision a reality; Semtech, Sigfox building out networks in Germany; Actility launches network into space with Inmarsat partnership; Vodafone, 3B Medical adding cellular connectivity to sleep apnea aid.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Feb 19, 2016

Volvo Replacing Keys With Smartphone App

Volvo has announced its plans to launch a smartphone application that will enable a driver to unlock and operate a Volvo vehicle via a digital key, sent via a smartphone's Bluetooth radio. The carmaker plans to pilot the technology this spring with users of Sunfleet, a car-sharing program that Volvo operates. Participants will use the app to access Sunfleet vehicles located at the Gothenburg airport in Sweden. The company then plans to begin making the application commercially available next year.

Aside from offering the convenience of not having to carry a physical key, the carmaker says the app will enable Volvo owners to issue digital keys to other individuals (friends or family members, for instance) so that they can drive the vehicles.

According to Volvo, the app will also accommodate keys for multiple Volvo vehicles, for households with multiple Volvo automobiles or owners who own multiple Volvos but keep them in different cities.

In addition, Volvo is exploring use cases through which rental car agencies could use the app when loaning Volvo cars to their customers, thereby eliminating the need for physical keys. In this scenario, a customer would use the GPS receiver inside her phone to locate the vehicle, and the app would then unlock it and enable the ignition. This could reduce drivers' wait time as they retrieve rental cars in airports or train stations.

A New (Old) Standards Group Forms: Open Connectivity Foundation

The Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC), an Internet of Things standards and certification organization formed in 2014—which last year unveiled an open source IoT framework called IoTivity—is now called the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF). The new foundation has also added three prominent member companies: Microsoft, Qualcomm and Electrolux. All three of these firms are also active members of the AllSeen Alliance, a separate standards-setting organization that has its own open-source IoT framework, known as Alljoyn, based on the Linux operating system.

The change is not just a rebrand, says OCF spokesman Mike Richmond, since the inclusion of Microsoft, Qualcomm and Electrolux signals that the OCF and the AllSeen Alliance have moved much closer to ensuring interoperability of IoT devices and systems offered by the hundreds of member organizations in the two nonprofit groups.

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