Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Actility buys geolocation startup to boost its IoT offering

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

Hot on the heels of its recent $75m fundraising, wireless IoT provider Actility has bought fellow French geolocation startup Abeeway.

While this might seem off to one side for an IoT provider, Actility see Abeeway’s patented location software and giving its ThingPark platform tracking capability.

“We’re seeing massive demand for location-aware IoT solutions from industry,” says Actility CEO Mike Mulica. “We’ve been rapidly developing our ThingPark Location platform to deliver powerful tools to service providers and our customers in the tracking ecosystem. We’re creating an IoT location platform that will enable a revolution in the logistics and supply chain sector. In fact, we think that geolocation and tracking are potentially the killer app for the whole of the Internet of Things."
“Since the first LoRaWAN tracker was presented by Abeeway in 2015, Abeeway has continuously improved IoT tracking solutions, developing the first patented low power GPS (Assisted-GPS for IOT) as well as data fusion to optimise localisation and power consumption,” said Abeeway Founder Florian Sforza. 

The move potentially hits Abeeway's deals with other IoT providers. “Major players have already selected Abeeway products such as the Master Tracker and Micro Tracker. Becoming part of Actility’s rapid growth will allow us to leverage their market leading LPWA platform and global reach to satisfy the massive market demand for IoT location use cases. Abeeway products will also continue to be available for every LPWAN network,” he said.

The Abeeway trackers use GPS signals to determine their location, but energy-efficient LoRaWAN communication to pass that location to a tracking application, so in comparison with trackers using cellular networks, they offer much longer battery life. The key innovation developed by Abeeway, providing a powerful competitive advantage to Actility location services, is an assisted GPS technology specifically optimized for LoRaWAN, which allows fewer satellites to be used for a fix and reduces the GPS lock time to a few seconds. The power required for both GPS signal acquisition and processing is reduced: this combination results in a dramatic increase in battery life, by an order of magnitude versus existing GPS location technology.

“The unique advantage of our platform is its ability to serve a huge variety of use cases by combining different location technologies including network-based TDoA location, GPS and A-GPS, Bluetooth beacons and wi-fi 'sniffing'," said Actility founder and CTO Olivier Hersent. “Our customers can optimise their solutions to precisely match the requirements of their target use cases.”

ThingPark Location services will be accessible through APIs, which, coupled with the bidirectional capability of the LoRaWAN link, will allow developers to manage geolocation according to the needs of their application. For example, in an asset tracking and theft prevention scenario, the application may use low-power consumption network-based location to “geofence” a vehicle, raising an alert only when it strays outside a defined area. But if the vehicle breaks through that geofence, then the application can request regular GPS-based location updates to enable the vehicle to be traced in real time and recovered.

www.actility.com

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