Sigfox has added a location service, Spot’it, to its low powered wide area network-based IoT service that it says enables users of its devices to track their location with an accuracy of approximately “a city block”.
The service works with existing Sigfox devices. Sigfox says it uses “radio signal strength analysis and deep learning techniques” to determine the device’s location. It provides the device’s owner with the latitude and longitude of the device and the accuracy of the figure, in kilometres.
Sigfox is being rather vague about the accuracy. A slide presentation suggests that, in some cases, the margin or error might be several kilometres. There is no set size for a city block, but Wikipedia suggests it is typically between 100 and 300 metres per side.
Sigfox is billing Spot’it as its “first big data service” saying: “Unlike traditional IoT geolocation services, Spot’it does not require any additional hardware, software or energy, making it the simplest and lowest cost IoT location service on the market.”
It is being billed as “the first global IoT geolocation offer” and Sigfox suggests it can complement Wi-Fi based location in rural areas where hotspots are few and complement GPS inside buildings where the satellite signal cannot penetrate.
According to Sigfox it allows the simplification of global supply chain management: once a device is registered into the Sigfox Cloud, the geolocation service is available in all territories where the network is present. Sigfox says it anticipates new service opportunities from global asset tracking to geo marketing and fraud management services.
“Traditionally, companies have tracked their assets in transit by either scanning at the point of contact, or through GPS tracking,” it says. “However, scanning at points of contact is often prone to error and loss in between touch points. Additionally, aside from the high cost of GPS hardware, the energy intensive operation means there is a high maintenance cost associated in continually replacing batteries. As such, GPS tracking is reserved for tracking high value goods and is uneconomical for tracking mass freight or assets.”
Sigfox chief marketing officer Laetitia Jay said: “Spot’it is not only set to transform the global freight industry, but we anticipate that new services will be developed. Imagine a new service where shipping companies can be alerted when containers stray into regions that they aren’t supposed to be in. From fraud detection to new insurance and geo-marketing business models, the possibilities are endless.”
Sigfox services are provided in Australia and New Zealand by Thinxtra.