As a coming soon produit, widely available as an open design, Sigfox has introduce during the Sigfox Connect conference the Bubbles: They are basically a Sigfox Beacon.
Working on the technological basis of the Monarch technology the bubble allows a device to identify the zone where it is. This is basically a kind of solution existing on bluetooth, LoRa but Sigfox was not positioned on it. This is now fixed with the Sigfox Bubble technology.
Compared to bluetooth the Sigfox solution is offering a large range of operations: thanks to the long range communication capability, you can imagine to cover a zone like a complete building or a parking as a single cell ; this is for future as the current technical offering is covering 10 meters max. Like on bluetooth you can manage the beacon power to reduce the cell (bubble) size to 1 or 2 meters and get your device position on this range. On top of this with no technology addition, you get access to the Atlas service locating your device on public area with the usual 1km precision.
The main difference with other technologies comes with the service proposal. Bubble is not just a technology ! Following the Sigfox business model, Bubble is a manage service: you have your bubble devices managed by Sigfox, you are able to share positions with business partner across the bubble global network and you get benefits of the public Bubble network operating on different point of interest.
As I written this post for another target and it can be also useful for anyone, even if It is one more post on many of them, here are a couple of words about Meltdown and Spectre security issues. Read mode for details.
Following my previous post on bitcoin I’ve start mining with ASIC to continue playing the technology. I’ve started with a small USB ASIC providing 2GH/s. This is equivalent to 200 times the power of my Xeon server and it was really easy to install, running on a Raspberry Pi to simplify the usage.
This post details this experience and gives some advices for one wanted to experience mining.
I do not count the time I looked at Bitcoin in the past since about 2011-2012. Every time I started thinking about mining there was an investment to do (like GPU, then ASIC) and I never trust enough this money to make this investment. So as a consequence I never jump into this techno by the past, more than to understand how it works and learn.
Now Bitcoin in reaching some unexpected peaks ( > 15,000€ ) and it really looks like a bubble everyone is talking about, so as a mad man, I through it was the perfect time to start playing with this money. Trust me, as a guy who started investing in Internet technologies in 2001, you may never follow me on such decision !
Starting playing with this was an interesting learning opportunity, so this post will relate this experience and the different things I found in the bitcoin ecosystem.
This last monday I had the chance to meet the two Sigfox founders Ludovic Le-Moan and Christophe Fourtet during a really nice day at Labege (SigFox headquarter) with other Sigfox ambassadors.
From the meeting we had with the founders I retained some of the Sigfox strategical guide line:
Scalability – this is the major point raised during our discussions : the network must be able to scale and all what has been designed in the radio protocol & technology, as in the cloud architecture was for scalability.
Thanks to this initial design no big change are expected in the radio solution in the coming years. It has already been designed for future.
In regard to this scalability strategy we have also meet the team operating the network. I’ve seen a really nice Network Operation Center, well equiped and with about 40 people involved. It has been fun for me as in my daily job I’m managing internal inter-application communication of a large company. The volume of data we are proceeding every day is quite similar as of now but Sigfox is well more equiped than I am and better prepared for scaling 😉
Reliability – The ISM band will continue to have more and more noise on it coming from all the coming radio device using it. Sigfox design has been made to ensure a long term capacity to support this evolution. Ultra narrow band is actually the best and secure way to continue to communicate over noisy environment also protecting this common good by limiting the spectral usage.
Simplicity – Sigfox has been made to be simple to use with no parameters to tune the radio or the protocol. Everything is defined to ensure a good quality in the communications. This spirit will be kept in the future but potentially we will have the capability to tweak some of the parameters. We could imagine to limit the repetition time for frame with lower criticality. This will save power or send more frame per hour. We could imagine to get higher speed. Why not having more downlink ? Larger payload ?
This is a regular discussion I have with prospect or with different business oriented people about producing electronics in developed countries and costs of devices. When you talk about electronic products in many minds it is equivalent to talk about Chinese production & design. It’s like when you talk about software in a couple of years ago it was a kind of synonym with back-office Indian development.
Business model is in my point of view a big blocker for IoT tsunami : when IoT is service and service is monthly fee, IoT is also objects and objects business model is based on push the box and get 30% standard business model.
These two approaches are really different and distribution must change its business model to correctly fit with IoT and extract the right level of value. Taking 30% one shot is quick & easy but getting a regular revenue based on service delivery is more profitable.
The blocking point seem to simply be process, people and software: actually distribution is not organized and equipped with the right IT for managing recurrent revenue, for this reason the distribution have no major interest is service oriented product and prefer all inclusive device where service is included in the initial price.
The problem of this model is that it is not profitable for IoT industry : IoT have a making cost to produce the object but year after year each object generate a service cost. In most of the existing business case, new object sell are funding the service for old objects. This can work when the company is growing and make scale effect reduction on service cost. The problem start as soon as the market is decreasing and the cost of running service is higher than the margin made on new object sell. This problem is a killer as soon as your service cost is high like when you have to support a recurrent communication fee (like for what I consider real connected object, I mean objects able to communicate with no local infrastructure dependencies). The only way is to make money on data collected from the object and be payed on client privacy. This equation is really dangerous for the client, even for the IoT industry as much as privacy regulation law are growing and data market not really predictable.
I’m quite sure that this situation will soon change as distribution can make much more money based on service than based on box pushing and as soon as they will be organized to manage it, as the business is better, they will make a lot of available space for service business model based object, enabling the IoT tsunami.
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