Riot 253: Around The Web Roundup


// M&A, Strategies, Alliances //

  • ERA has acquired Y-cam, a British startup that is a significant player in the connected camera world. ERA is one of the major home security specialists, but it is not disclosing figures here.
  • Geotab is acquiring BSM Technologies, a telematics and asset management provider that covers 165,000 vehicles in the US and Canada, mainly focused on government and private fleets. This would bring Geotab up to around 1.6mn vehicles using its telematics offering.
  • Qorvo is acquiring Active-Semi, a fabless semiconductor firm that specializes in power efficiency and management, used increasingly in IoT and 5G designs. No price is being given, and Active-Semi is being integrated into Qorvo’s IDP wing.

// Hardware //

  • Ruuvi and Nordic Semiconductor have unveiled the Ruuvi Node, an open source design that features the Nordic nRF9160 SiP, which is a solar-enabled, industrial gateway, featuring LTE Cat-M, Cat-NB, GPS, NFC, and Bluetooth.
  • ON Semi has launched an upgrade for its RSL10 Multi-Sensors Platform, with a new solar-power cell for the Bluetooth SiP. ON Semi says that the sensors, from Bosch Sensortec, enable battery-free deployments.


// Networks, Protocols, & Wireless //

  • Everynet has announced that it is building a national LoRaWAN network in Spain, but the customer has not been publicly disclosed. It’s another win for the neutral-host approach, and follows a particularly successful installation in Brazil.
  • Haystack is showing off its DASH7 stack, claiming that when used above a LoRa PHY it can provide 2-3x range improvements in ground-level network deployments, without impacting battery life, as well as error correction and a higher data rate that the company says translates to 10-20x improvements in network density and battery life.
  • Orange is singing the praises of LoRa, saying that “LoRaWAN is the cheapest and simplest solution for static machines and sensors in the field, without a power supply to them, and, for the record, way more cost effective than its cellular low-power wide-area (LPWA) equivalents, in the form of LTE-M and NB-IoT.”

// Big Data, Cloud, AI, and Machine-Learning //

  • Google binned its AI ethics board, after some pretty sharp backlash. It’s rather a wimpy cop-out, but given the lack of ethics or civil rights expertise on the panel, and the two most controversial appointments, Google has straight-up canceled the project.
  • Qualcomm has thrown its hat into the ring for AI-based data center hardware, unveiling the Cloud AI 100, an AI accelerator design that it says offers over 10x performance per watt over the most advanced rivals, on a 7nm design process. It supports Caffe2, PyTorch, Glow, TensorFlow, Keras, and ONNX.
  • EMQ and Erlang Solutions have signed a channel partnership, trying to promote the former’s MQTT message brokers with the latter’s fault-tolerant system building expertise, using the Erlang and Elixir open source languages.

// Smart Homes and Buildings //

  • Apple has dropped the price of the HomePod …. by $50. Now a $300 device, it is still rather more than a Sonos speaker, and a heck of a lot more than Google and Amazon’s offerings in the smart speaker world.
  • Centrica’s Hive is expanding into aging-in-place services, using its hardware to spot patterns and consequent deviations from expected behavior, which can alert friends and family to possible problems with a smart home’s resident. We anticipated aging-in-place to be one of the main drivers for smart home kit.
  • ecobee could be launching a camera. The speculation is based on leaked images that were first posted by Zatz Not Funny, but the thermostat-maker hasn’t commented either way yet.
  • Ikea and Sonos are showing off the fruits of their Symfonisk collaboration, with connected speakers disguised inside a book shelf (€100) and a lamp (€180).

// Automotive //

  • Faurecia has picked Access to power parts of its next-gen IVI systems, using Access’ Twine for Car system. Access says that its software has now been deployed in some 1.5bn devices, spanning CPE, cars, and mobile devices.
  • Volkswagen is now joining the Automotive Grade Linux group, a big win for the in-car software development alliance.

// Smart Cities //

  • Pinacl, recently acquired by Boston Networks, is installing 3,500 LoRaWAN controllers in Aberdeen’s streetlighting network, as part of the council’s digital transformation program – of which lighting is a £9mn seven-year program. It’s a notable win for LoRaWAN, as lighting tends to lean towards Wi-SUN and proprietary approaches like Telensa’s.
  • Telensa has picked Kainos, an IT and platform delivery specialist, as its lead digital and data partner for Telensa’s Urban Data Project, which centers around the City Data Guardian platform. The UDP initiative also involves Microsoft, Qualcomm, and Smart Cambridge, exploring how to safely generate and use smart city data.

// Smart Grid & Utility //

  • ComEd is asking its local regulator to reduce energy bills by around $6mn, or an average of 38-cents per bill, which would bring prices down to below that of 2008. Its CEO said that its customers have ‘realized $655mn in direct economic value from avoided customer interruptions as a result of smart grid investments.’
  • The USDA is making $485mn in loans available for upgrading rural electricity systems, in the Midwest and center of the country.

// Health //

  • Amazon has announced that its Alexa Skills Set has been certified as HIPAA-compliant. It will now let select developers create applications, following a trial with Cedars-Sinai, to facilitate appointment bookings, post-care assistance, and prescription checks. Amazon has been active in this sector for some time, and this could be a first step towards pitching Alexa as the voice-application foundation for hospitals.