IoT News Roundup

Sigma opens Z-Wave interoperability spec; Novatel's Ignite offers retailers out-of-box connectivity for kiosks, signage; Samsara upgrades fleet-management platform; rolls out ThermoPeanut sensor; C3 IoT raises $70 million; beefs up beacon offerings with location-tracking; maritime industry steering toward autonomous ships; Boehringer Ingelheim to offer IoT-enabled COPD inhaler.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Sep 02, 2016

Sigma Designs Releases Z-Wave Interoperability Spec to Industry

Sigma Designs, a provider of system-on-chip (SoC) solutions for Connected Smart TV platforms and the Internet of Things, is releasing the interoperability specification of the Z-Wave wireless mesh-networking standard into the public domain. The Z-Wave Public Spec gives developers, gateway manufacturers and other stakeholders, including hobbyists, free access to the Z-Wave interoperability layer, which they can use to create smart home IoT applications. Sigma Designs is also making public application programming interfaces (APIs) for two of its software products, as well as the full specification of the new Z-Wave S2 security application framework. The company released the design of its radio to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) more than four years ago, and the ITU has adopted it as the public G.9959 radio standard.

In 2008, Sigma Designs purchased Zensys, which developed Z-Wave technology and created the Z-Wave Alliance. Previously, the Z-Wave interoperability specification was available only to members of the Z-Wave Alliance, or holders of a Z-Wave Development Kit from Sigma Designs. However, any manufacturer interested in selling Z-Wave-certified products will need to join the Alliance and have their products tested for compliance with the specification. Sigma Designs says there are more than 1,500 certified interoperable Z-Wave products worldwide.

The Z-Wave Alliance is one of many standards organizations, including AllJoyn, the Open Interconnection Consortium, the Thread Group and the ZigBee Alliance, that are looking to become the de facto smart-home communications and interoperability standard. A few of these groups have also released various specifications and forged partnerships in efforts to become more inclusive and widely adopted. This week, in fact, the Thread Group announced a partnership with the EEBus Initiative e.V, which has developed the Smart Premises Interoperable Neutral-message Exchange (SPINE) model to enable devices and services to interoperate via their application layers, regardless of network protocols used. Through the collaboration, the two groups will design an interface between SPINE and the Thread networking protocol.

Novatel Eyes Retail Connectivity Needs With Ignite Product

Novatel Wireless, a provider of broadband services for IoT applications, has announced a new bundled connectivity solution, called Ignite, designed to enable retailers to add Internet connectivity to digital signage, kiosks, vending machines and point-of-sale systems inside their stores. Novatel Wireless provides the hardware, cloud-based device-management platform and support, while T-Mobile provides the cellular service with up to 3 gigabytes of data, for a $40 flat monthly rate per unit.

Samsara Adds New Software Features to Fleet-Management Platform

Samsara, a startup that provides IoT solutions for fleet management (vehicle tracking, as well as environmental monitoring for cargo), has announced a number of new software features for its VG33 vehicle gateway, a cellular GPS tracker that collects data from a range of wireless sensors installed inside a vehicle's cargo hold, as well as vehicle diagnostics (through an OBD II port or, in heavy duty trucks, a J1939 interface).

The new software suite leverages the VG33's wireless connectivity to create, through a partnership with AT&T, a Wi-Fi hotspot. It includes a mobile app for iOS and Android devices that drivers can use to log their work hours to comply with the U.S. Department of Transportation's upcoming electronic logging device mandate, as well as support for vehicle inspection reporting, a system enabling dispatchers to send new stops and routes to drivers, and a means for drivers to manage their routes with turn-by-turn directions.

These new software features, including the Wi-Fi hotspot, are available to existing customers via a free over-the-air update. The Samsara Driver App is available for free to Samsara fleet customers at the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. The VG33 device costs $99, plus a $33 monthly license fee that includes cellular data, maintenance and support, and cloud-based software. With a three-year contract, the monthly fee is $27.

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