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Computing smarts for your beehive and your beer (photos)

Low-power networks can help connect devices without a lot of battery power, like burglar alarms and trashcans. Network company Sigfox showed off some new uses at Mobile World Congress.

Stephen Shankland
Stephen Shankland worked at CNET from 1998 to 2024 and wrote about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
Stephen Shankland
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1 of 7 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Sigfox car tracker

Sigfox's low-power network can't send YouTube videos or even a long email message, but the French company has found a lot of customers who need a cheap, battery-friendly network. This GPS sensor used in antitheft systems for cars periodically reports the location of a vehicle. Sigfox showed it and several other products off at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona.

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2 of 7 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Fire hydrant networked pressure monitor

Networking smarts can help firefighters make sure there's enough water pressure to actually fight fires. This pressure-monitoring system is built by Bayard, a French company that supplies most fire hydrants in France.

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3 of 7 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Burglar alarm backchannel

Thieves can try to defeat burglar alarms with jamming technology that blocks them from sending warnings using conventional mobile-phone networks. This alarm from Securitas Direct uses Sigfox communications as a backup alert channel to defeat the jammer.

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4 of 7 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Trash can with brains

Barcelona is installing trash cans that use Sigfox's network to report when they're getting full so the city can empty them sooner -- and not have to send collectors out to trash cans that aren't full.

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5 of 7 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Making dumb smoke alarms smart

The Otio Alert listens for smoke detector or burglar alarms and sends you a text message alert. In effect, it brings computing smarts to old-style alarms using Sigfox's network.

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6 of 7 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Better beer through wireless networking

Estella Damm is using Sigfox's network to monitor beer temperature at bars that may not be aware of malfunctions that could spoil the beer.

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7 of 7 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Connected beehive

Hipsters and environmentally aware companies like operating beehives. This one from Optibee reports wirelessly when honeycombs are getting full so they can be emptied.

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