French network startup Sigfox sells access to its network for as little as $1 a month. The network works with devices such as car theft detectors, smart parking monitors and medical equipment.
Sigfox's low-speed but low-cost network wouldn't work for mobile phones, but it's good for some tasks, and the French company showed many of them at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona. This Securitas device, embedded deep in a car's innards, communicates with a key fob to alert people when their car has been stolen.
Sigfox's radio-communication technology uses very inexpensive hardware, with the radio chip costing about $1. This image shows the electronics used by Securitas' theft-thwarting car sensor. On the bottom are two AA batteries, good for about five years of service.
FastPrk's magnetic sensors, shown here with toy cars, use Sigfox's network to report whether parking places are empty or full in some Barcelona neighborhoods. The sensors can also be used for billing since they detect when cars arrive and leave.
TST offers an ultrasonic proximity detector for cars. Using the Sigfox network and an identifier in a car, it can give a green signal to drivers who are allowed in a parking place -- executives, garage customers, or people with handicaps, for example -- and a red warning to others.
The Traqueur is a GPS-enabled device that can help people find where their stolen car has ended up. It uses Sigfox's low-speed but low-cost network. Cars already offer that with conventional phone networks, but savvy thieves jam them, and Sigfox's network provides a backup.
Connit developed this device that uses an optical sensor to monitor mechanical water meters and report data back over the Sigfox network. It's a digital retrofit to the analog world, part of the smart metering push going on in many countries.
Shipping companies need to ensure refrigerated cargo stays refrigerated, and this Sigfox-linked sensor from Seur reports temperature information and notifies overseers if a truck's cargo doors have been opened. Here, the sensor is shown atop a toy truck.
Hydroko offers this valve that monitors fluid flow. Because Sigfox's network is bidirectional, central controllers can send a signal to open or shut the valve.
The Airboard is a super-small development device for people wanting to get started with Sigfox networking. It's geared for the hobbyist set who might want just a single device.
Z#bre's Z#Link is designed for monitoring medical patients. It can report when nursing staff showed up at a room to administer medication and trigger an alert if a patient's room temperature is wrong.
FiveYearsOut's SmartEverything is an all-purpose electronics board that lets people develop Sigfox-enabled devices. It's got an Atmel processor, NFC and Bluetooth communications, GPS location-tracking ability, sensors for humidity, temperature, and accleration, and can be governed with Telit's network management software.