A startup hopes to connect millions of low-power sensors worldwide to the Internet, making everything—from power grids to home appliances—smarter.
The networks that serve humans are based on technology that isn’t suitable for sensors, says Thomas Nicholls, chief of business development and Internet of Things evangelism at SigFox. “If you compare with a GSM [cell-phone] network, then our solution is much cheaper, provides much lower energy consumption, and operates over a much longer range,” he says.
SigFox builds its networks in the same way as a cellular provider, using a system of connected antennas that each cover a particular area and link back to the operator’s central network. But the antennas use a different radio technology, developed by SigFox, known as ultra narrow band. This technology would not be of much use for streaming video to an iPhone, but it allows devices connecting to the network to consume very little energy, says Nicholls, and it allows for very long-range connections. (...)
SigFox reports seeing most interest in its technology from companies trying to roll out so-called smart grids, an approach to electricity distribution that uses data from sensors throughout a power network—including in customers’ homes—to help improve efficiency and reliability. That tallies with Foster’s experience. “Government stimulus, environmental legislation, and the desire of utilities to increase operational efficiency have been key drivers,” he says.
by Tom Simonite | MIT Technology Review
13 Nov 12