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Abeeway and Actility partner on IoT location technology

Steve Rogerson
February 2, 2017
At last week’s LoRa Alliance All Members’ Meeting in London, French firms Actility and Abeeway announced a partnership to develop and commercialise a flexible location system for the IoT combining the precision of GPS with the low-power, long-range capability and low cost of LPWA networks.
“Geolocation and object tracking could possibly be the biggest use case for the internet of things given the amount of interest we’re seeing in our location service portfolio” said Actility CEO Mike Mulica. “This is truly the best of both worlds. By working with Abeeway, we’ll be able to provide a best in class geolocation technology which will combine the network-based location capability offered within our ThingPark platform with device based GPS for high precision on demand.”
Abeeway, a ThingPark market seller, is a specialist in tracking devices based on LoRaWan, offering on-demand geolocation, movement alerts or geofencing. These trackers use GPS signals to determine their location, but energy-efficient LoRaWan communications to pass that location to tracking applications.
Compared with trackers using cellular networks, they are said to have much longer battery life.
The technology now being developed by Actility and Abeeway goes further, though. Assisted GPS technology optimised for LoRaWan allows fewer satellites to be used for a fix and reduces the GPS lock time to a few seconds. The power required for both 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 fast growth of public LPWAN opens a new era of LoRa applications such as asset tracking and geolocation services,” said Abeeway CEO Florian Sforza. “Abeeway was a precursor in developing multi-mode trackers for LoRa networks to enable dynamic optimisation of the power and position accuracy trade off. Working closely with Actility and integrating our geolocation in their ThingPark platform allows a fast deployment of geolocation applications for the end users.”
It’s not just the location technology that will be integrated. The location service will be available through a single ThingPark X API, 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.
The combination of LoRa network location and GPS is the first step towards multi-mode Abeeway trackers that also combine wifi network detection and Bluetooth beacon technology to provide precise location indoors. All these capabilities will be integrated and accessible via a single, location API delivered via the ThingPark X platform, which can also pass the data to customer cloud platforms, including IBM Watson, Microsoft Azure and AWS.
“We’re delighted to be working with Abeeway to be pioneering this next evolution of IoT technology,” said Actility CEO Mike Mulica. “We believe that this capability is a game changer for many industries, including logistics, supply chain management, precision agriculture, utilities and mining. It’s the killer app for industrial IoT.”
Abeeway has developed several geolocation systems for the markets of security, asset management and logistics.
ThingPark is a carrier-grade IoT platform that lets service providers accelerate their IoT strategy. ThingPark Wireless delivers long-range networks for low-power sensors and devices. ThingPark Mash-Up provides IoT protocol and data mediation services, enabling web applications to connect seamlessly with data from a vast range of different sensors. ThingPark Marketplace is at the heart of an ecosystem of certified IoT devices, connectivity and application partners.