'Internet of Things' network connects parking spaces and smartwatches

British company Arqiva has revealed plans for a low-power, battery-preserving network to connect up smart devices in 10 UK cities next year.

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Invasion of the wearables. Sarah Tew/CNET

Smartwatches, smoke alarms and parking spaces will soon be talking to each other over a new network designed for the "Internet of Things".

British telecom company Arqiva has revealed plans for a network to connect up smart devices in the UK -- a sort of Wi-Fi for wearables, you might say -- and it's coming to 10 cities next year.

Other examples of smart devices given by Arqiva include city-wide waste management, parking control, and smoke detectors, all of which will be able to share data. You'll be able to see where there's a free parking space, for example, or get a notification from your phone when your house is on fire.

The Internet of Things network will launch a year from now in Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Manchester, and Sheffield.

Wearable devices and smart appliances need a long battery life to be effective, and often don't need to transmit much data. Your smartphone needs to cope with video and other data-intensive tasks, and accordingly pays a toll in battery life. But a device connected to the Internet of Things needs to last longer, so requires a low-power network rather than a network as battery-sucking as Wi-Fi -- and that's where SIGFOX comes in.

SIGFOX is not, as the name might have you believe, an agency of spies, but a company that specialises in connecting the Internet of Things. It already runs networks in France, Spain, Russia, and Germany, and its technology will be employed by Arqiva in Britain.

The term Internet of Things refers to devices we wouldn't traditionally expect to be smart or connected, such as an oven or other home appliance. Examples of devices that have been smartened up by sending data to an app include the Nest Learning Thermostat, which enables you to control your heating from your phone.

 

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