Dog Collars And Other Gadgets Will Soon Have Their Own Cell Network In The Valley

Whistle connected collar Walter WhistleWalter the dog wearing a Whistle connected collar

If the hype is to be believed, the next huge thing coming to our lives is the Internet of Things, where every inanimate object, from your keychain to your dog’s collar, will get a computer chip, be controlled by apps, and be connected to the internet.

And now a French company called SigFox is building the first U.S. wireless cell network to let all of those devices communicate. It will build it in Silicon Valley, covering San Francisco to San Jose, by year’s end, reports Tom Simonite at MIT Technology Review.

Venture capitalists invested $US1.1 billion on IofT startups in 2013, over 153 deals, according to research firm CB Insights. Many of those companies are located in the Valley, especially a little spot in San Francisco called “IoT Town,” (a South of Market neighbourhood).

One of the companies excited about an IofT cell network is Whistle, makers of a fitness-tracking dog collar, its CEO Ben Jacobs, told Simonite.

Whistle communicates via Bluetooth or WiFi but the collar hasn’t added support for cell networks because that would cost too much. SigFox is expected to be affordable. The chip that connects a device to the network should cost $US1 or $US2, and the annual service fees for users would be about $US1 per year per device, too, Simonite reports.

Jacobs, Whistle’s CEO, says a constant connection anywhere in the city would allow him to add lots of other useful apps to the collar, like ability to find a lost pet.

SigFox has also committed to building the first IoT network in the U.K., Spain, and other places, it says. But it needs to move fast. Competitors like Qualcomm are also working on ways to connect IoT objects.

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