IoT News Roundup

Comcast, AT&T each announce IoT pilots; Xenio Systems stands alone; CEL adds voice, low-latency features to smart-building platform; HID, Intel each launch smart-building products; Verizon takes IoT to the skies.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Oct 07, 2016

AT&T, Comcast Each Announce IoT Pilot Projects
On Wednesday, Comcast announced machineQ, which it calls a "new business trial venture" to provide an Internet of Things network for business-to-business applications. The machineQ network will be built using low-power wide-area network (LPWAN) radios, provided by Semtech, that comply with the LoRa communication protocol. Comcast says it will deploy machineQ networks in Philadelphia and San Francisco by the end of this year, and that the technology will support many use cases, including utility metering, environmental monitoring (for example, temperature, pollution and noise) and asset tracking. Companies interested in running proof-of-concept tests on the networks are encouraged to contact Comcast. If the network proves to be a commercial success, Comcast says it plans to expand the service across all regions it serves within the next 18 to 30 months.

Also on Wednesday, AT&T reported that it is building a network using LTE-M cellular technology in San Francisco, on which it will launch a pilot program next month. A variant of long-term evolution (LTE) technology, LTE-M is optimized for low data transmissions and long battery life, to support machine-to-machine communications. It supports data rates of up to 1 megabyte per second using 1.4 MHz of spectrum. AT&T said in a press release that a number of technology partners that have created LTE-M (also called Cat-M1) modules will be involved in the test, including Sierra Wireless and u-blox.

According to AT&T, five companies will participate in the pilot: Badger Meter and Capstone Metering will test the network to support communications with water meters; CalAmp will evaluate the network for connected vehicle applications; PepsiCo will test vending machine applications on the network; and Samsung will test the use of connected consumer devices, including wearables.

AT&T also announced this week that it is collaborating with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to preconfigure AT&T devices to send data for storage to the AWS cloud, via AWS's IoT applications. The objective is to improve the data's security and reliability.

Xenio Systems Spins Out from Bridgelux
Bridgelux, a California-based manufacturer of solid-state lighting technology, has spun out Xenio Systems, its IoT development arm, into a standalone company. Xenio Systems makes LED lighting modules that support beacon technology, sold in a product called Xenio Link, which integrates a lighting controller with integrated Bluetooth-based communications technology from a company called Casambi. Casambi uses a proprietary protocol, running on Bluetooth Low Energy radios, that creates a mesh network of self-healing nodes.

Reza Raji, who founded and led smart-home IoT platform provider iControl Networks (which Comcast acquired earlier this year), serves as Xenio Systems' CEO. Currently, Xenio Systems has just under 20 employees.

Though independent, the company will continue to work with Bridgelux to source and develop its products. Retail beacon applications for location-based services and marketing are Xenio Systems' initial market focus, but the firm is also eyeing lighting and beacon applications in health care and other industries.

CEL Launches Cortet IoT Wireless Connectivity Platform
CEL, a manufacturer of wireless optical components used in lighting and a range of other applications, has added new features to its cloud-based IoT platform, Cortet Connectivity Suite, designed to make its technology stack—which extends from a microcontroller to an end-user application—competitive in the commercial building automation market. The new features are called Cortet Voice Control and Cortet Instant Broadcast. The voice-control feature enables systems integrators and manufacturers to add natural voice control capabilities to lighting and climate controls. With the Instant Broadcast feature, end users can command large numbers of devices, such as lighting controls, to actuate simultaneously and with very little latency, thereby avoiding the "popcorning" effect that large-scale LED lighting systems sometimes suffer as a result of latency in lighting-control systems.

CEL's Cortet radios modules are compliant with the ZigBee or Thread protocols, but are also available with CEL's proprietary MeshConnect protocol, which is built on the IEEE 801.14.5 communications standard. The Cortet App, which can be white-labeled, is designed to control a local network of devices directly, through an IP bridge, when inside a building. It can also control those devices remotely, via Cortet's cloud-based platform.

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