IoT News of the Week, February 4 2022 – Stacey on IoT

Graphic showing Internet of Things news

Here’s some of the IoT news making waves this week. Subscribe to our newsletter to get this in your inbox every Friday.

From hot mugs to cold boxes: Ember, the company behind the Ember self-heating coffee mug (the best gift I’ve ever given!) has released its first B2B product, a refrigerated cube designed for shipping medical items that need to stay cold. Last year, Ember said it would broaden its portfolio of products, and shocked many when it said it would pivot from warm to cold. Sure, you might think that making temperature-controlled enclosures is basically the same, but the mechanisms for keeping things hot and keeping things cold are very different. And with this product, Ember is proving that it can do it, in the process opening up a much broader business opportunity and probably reassuring investors who didn’t want to get stuck with a one-hit-wonder product. Ember has signed a partnership with Cardinal Health, which has experience shipping medicine, to prepare for the release of the product later this year. (TechCrunch)

Public opprobrium might work…sometimes: Life360 has said it will stop widely selling location data after a report by The Markup pointed out it was one of the top sellers of location data to data brokers. The news horrified many, especially since Life360 is popular with families trying to keep track of their kids. In response, Life360, which earned $16 million from selling location data in 2020, has scaled its location data sales to only two companies, Allstate Airity and Placer.ai. The Allstate sales are tied to insurance policies that use data to set premiums based on risk, and will only be allowed to use aggregated data going forward. Go journalism! Also, this is why we need far more transparent data policies, even if not everyone cares to read them. (The Verge)

Australia’s Telstra Purple acquires two companies to build out IoT capabilities: Telecom carrier Telstra Purple has agreed to purchase Alliance Automation and Aqura Technologies. The terms of the Alliance Automation deal are undisclosed but the seller of Aqura says that deal was valued at $30 million in cash. Alliance Automation makes industrial control systems software and will help boost Telstra’s sales efforts with firms requiring digital transformation while Aqura provides consulting and services and will help set up private networks. It’s a good time to be in the services business since IoT deployments are still a pretty heavy lift. (ARN)

Keep an eye on this company (and trend): This isn’t exactly an IoT story, but I couldn’t help but notice this story on Metronome, which has raised $30 million to make usage-based pricing easier to implement. Today it is aimed at helping SaaS companies that typically charge a monthly fee for access to a software service adapt their pricing to usage-based fees, which involves a surprising amount of work. Usage-based pricing already software exists (think telco OSS billing software), but building software that can charge per use and change pricing plans quickly is tough. And yet, it’s clear that for both software and the physical world, connectivity and sensors make usage-based pricing viable and likely to happen. (TechCrunch)

Insurers are finally adopting smart home tech to reduce claims: It’s taken far longer than I thought it would, but the insurance world is finally starting to ship out connected sensors to policyholders in order to detect leaks and prevent claims. Chubb has apparently embraced both leak and temperature sensors and is offering discounts for customers that deploy them. According to a Chubb executive, residential customers can save about 3% on their premiums with sensors and 8% if they install devices that shut off the water. In the meantime, Chubb has acquired StreamLabs, an Australian sensor company, to control its own destiny when it comes to sensors, a strategy I expect to see from more companies that want to ensure the quality of their data streams. Unfortunately for consumers, this means if you switch insurers you may need a new round of sensors. (Insurance Journal)

Learn about LoRaWAN: In case my overviews of low-power wider area networks are confusing, Kevin has written a LoRaWAN 101 post that provides some basic terminology and information to help decipher what can be a confusing sector. (StaceyonIoT)

Maybe smart home folks need to talk to carmakers about energy resiliency: I’ve been very excited about how connected appliances and smarter breaker boxes can combine with software to add resiliency when it comes to electricity in homes, and now there’s a new player in the form of Ford’s new F-150 Lightning truck. Ford is working with Sunrun, a solar panel installer, to install and sell a specially designed charger that can handle bidirectional energy flow and charge the truck. The F-150 extended-range battery system can store 131 kilowatt-hours of electricity which is enough to meet the energy demands of the average home for three days. This is pretty awesome andsomething I’d like to see more of as more people embrace electric vehicles in the home. We already use our Tesla as a giant battery to recharge devices during power outages, but I can’t take advantage of its battery to power my coffee maker or a space heater at the moment. I’d love to have that for future vehicles. (Electric Cars Report)

Samsung SDS is out of the commercial lock business: Zigbang, a property tech company in South Korea, will acquire Samsung SDS’ home IoT business for an undisclosed amount. Samsung SDS is a managed security service that also provides hardware such as locks and wall switches. The smart home business inside the security business was kind of a weird fit, and Samsung had tried to sell its IoT hardware business to Allegion (the parent company of Schlage locks) back in 2016. So, it has taken a while, but now Zigbang has purchased the business and will likely end up providing services and hardware to multifamily and other commercial housing providers going forward. (Business Standard)

The Thread Group preps to take Thread commercial: The Thread radio standard was developed for connecting IoT devices by companies more commonly associated with the smart home, but the Thread Group has long had commercial ambitions. And it looks like the Thread Group plans to make 2022 the year it shifts to serious commercial consideration. The Thread protocol allows for a distributed, low-power mesh network that can connect directly to the internet without requiring an intermediary as Zigbee and Z-Wave do. This is probably even more useful in commercial buildings where sensors networks are much larger and need to be more robust. The Thread Group is working to help get several existing smart building protocols, such as BACnet and DALI, ready to transition to IP networks that can also directly communicate to the internet. So keep an eye on Thread for commercial deployments to see if it will make it in the wider commercial world. (The Thread Group)

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