The French startup, SigFox, has decided on the San Francisco area to install a wireless network solely to connect low-power devices. The slow-lane network is the beginning of a plan to cheaply connect everything from pipes to smoke detectors around the globe, with the high-tech valley becoming the first area of its kind. With wearables falling squarely within the realm of connected devices, this new network is wildly exciting to us!
The idea for the wireless slow lane fostered out of the convoluted and bloated networks that have begun to slow down as more devices and more demand have grown over the years. As the director of SigFox’s U.S. operations puts it “If you want to get billions of connections like that, you require a completely new type of network.” So, SigFox aims to do just that. The network will use the unlicensed 915-megahertz spectrum band that has been commonly used by cordless phones, and while SigFox is still waiting on approval, the network will cover the San Francisco peninsula from its urban tip to the sprawling Silicon Valley region 40 miles to the south.
While the new network will only house low-power devices and transmit 100 bits per second, which happens to be 1,000 times slower than the networks that serve smartphones, this doesn’t mean that sophisticated devices won’t be able to use it. Big semiconductor companies such as Intel and Qualcomm have started working on low-power, cheaper, and smaller chips that can work in a number of different devices, with potential for wearables to take full advantage of a slower network.
The company is in a race against time, with competing with other large companies eyeing the machine-only space that SigFox is going after. However, with its recent round of funding of $20.6 million, the young company may have already gotten a leg up on the competition with the financial backing to follow it through.