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CeBIT Feature Articles

March 15, 2012

Short Takes from CeBIT

CeBIT (News - Alert) is huge ICT event. Held every year in Hannover, Northern Germany, it comprises 26 large halls and this year there were more than 300,000 visitors and 4,200 exhibitors. By comparison, the M2M Zone in Hall 12 was very modest. Small booths, no flashy presentations with annoying “musical” accompaniments, but on Telit’s stand there was a large mural that used over 30 small, captioned illustrations to depict The Big Picture, i.e. the myriad applications that the M2M industry embraces. 

It also served, in an understated way, to visualize the fact that Telit has the widest range of wireless modules, which allows the company to serve all those apps. That range has now been extended via the acquisition of Navman Wireless, which is one of the largest providers of global GPS solutions. Navman’s roots go back to Rockwell, the original creators of GPS for the U.S. military.

The presence of Kore Wireless seemed to indicate an entry into the European market and this turned out to be the case. Kore was a regular MVNO, i.e. it bought airtime for voice and messaging wholesale and sold it retail in N. America, before moving into the M2M space. The company also developed their own management platform and rating engine for this sector that they are now marketing to MNOs who are moving into M2M. 

Their latest product is Global IntelliRate, which features an auto-adjusting, flexible pricing plan that provides price discounts automatically. They are calculated on actual usage. Global Connect (News - Alert) uses a single SIM and the service is available in over 180 countries. Unlike other service providers, Kore employs Tier 1, in-country connectivity.      

HCP is a small, progressive Serbian company, founded in 1998, whose product range is based on in-house development and distribution of devices/terminals for wireless communication. They are developed and built by HCP, incorporate mainstream protocols (GPRS, EDGE, UMTS), and employ the wireless modules of producers such as Cinterion. HCP states that it is market leader in M2M product development in central-Eastern Europe and their embedded OEM products can be found in several international brands. In addition HCP has a great marketing slogan: “German quality at Chinese prices”.  

Eurotech is a relatively small player but they play a pivotal role in an M2M ecosystem that includes IBM (systems integration), Oracle (databases) and Hitachi (News - Alert) (OSGi)). The company’s offer is based on a multi-layer software framework. The foundation comprises over twenty generic components that are employed in most applications. There are also component bundles that address the typical need of specific vertical market applications. 

This software framework is a programming environment that wraps the complexity of low-level device management with high level constructs, an approach that enables simpler, faster programming with shorter, easier to read code.

Enterprises are the target audience, as indicated by the inclusion of an OSGi (Open Services Gateway (News - Alert) initiative) layer. This allows IT to add, amend and drop M2M services in line with changing requirements. In addition, components and bundles can be remotely installed, started, stopped, updated and uninstalled without requiring a reboot.  You can see the whole thing as a broad toolbox for systems integrators.

Next up is FreightWatch Security Net. I was drawn to the stand by this unusual looking product: it’s a “global assisted GPS tracker”. Functionally it provides location tracking and sensor monitoring, but it also employs enhanced assisted-GPS. The company has fine-tuned the location-position technology and this allows the tracker to operate in impaired environments where most GPS devices would not function. When it is unable to receive direct GPS signals the system uses cell tower GSM/GPRS data instead to triangulate the location of the device. This enables global and cross-border tracking. 

The company’s GPS trackers operate in combination with a Web-based GPS monitoring platform that provides 24/7/365 location visibility of cargo or other assets. Location information is presented using Google (News - Alert) Maps technology and is designed to push fast, high volumes of data without requiring the browser to refresh.  Notifications and alerts are sent by email or SMS when defined events occur.  

And last but not least, SignalSet. This company wasn’t exhibiting, but I ran into Peter van der Gracht, their CEO and over coffee he told me about a patent-pending technology that allows machine-to-machine manufacturers to deploy wireless devices that can remotely and automatically switch between networks. This development would seem to have broken the bond that has long tied a specific mobile device to a specific mobile network. Switching takes place in real-time when network conditions and even data pricing policies change. 

The solution is based on a software-based wireless infrastructure “overlay” which can be programmed with any number of business rules based on customers‘ needs.   The technology can reach out and remotely tell devices what to do, either in real-time or at predetermined times.  Many times the concern is maximizing wireless coverage and value, other times the desire is the ability to transfer small bursts of data at the lowest cost.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

Technology Marketing Corporation

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