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IoT News Roundup

July 10th, 2015
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Gimbal shrinks beacon, adds USB power; Accenture offering analytics service; Smappee releases energy-management system for small and midsize businesses; AAB Smart Tools announces new pressure meter and companion smartphone app.

Gimbal Unveils Tiny, USB-Powered Beacon
Beacon manufacturer Gimbal has released its latest Bluetooth beacon, a diminutive USB-powered device called the U-Series 5. Gimbal is targeting the product toward applications in which users want to add beacon functionality to devices with USB ports, such as computers, TVs, set-top-boxes, kiosks, point-of-sale terminals or vending machines.

The U-Series 5 is Gimbal's smallest beacon to date, weighing in at 1.85 grams (0.07 ounce), and its dimensions are 0.76 inch by 0.61 inch by 0.28 inch (19.3 millimeters by 15.6 millimeters by 7.1 millimeters). Like other Gimbal beacons, it transmits its unique signal over the 2.45 GHz band and in compliance with Apple's iBeacon air-interface specification. A Bluetooth-enabled device can receive a signal from the U-Series 5 from 110 feet (or 33 meters) awayor even farther, if the environment is clear of obstacles. Because the beacon is powered over the USB port, users need not worry about replacing an expired battery.

The U-Series 5 can be plugged into any powered USB port, but it does not send or receive data from the host device. Users activate the beacon by keying in a code, printed on a label attached to the device, into the Web-based Gimbal Manager software, where they can also set its transmission power level and transmission intervals (how often it transmits its signal).

The U-Series 5, which costs $25, is available now on the Gimbal website.

Accenture Targets Industrial IoT Users With Analytics Tools
Management consultancy and technology services company Accenture has announced a new analytics-as-a-service offering called the Accenture Insights Platform, a cloud-based tool designed to simplify analytics and deliver real-time, actionable insights. The service, accessed through the Accenture Cloud Platform, includes sensor data storage, industry-specific applications, analytics applications developed through the Accenture Analytics Applications Platform, and data-management services. Customers will also receive access to data visualization tools and 24-hour customer support.

In a statement, Accenture says it can provision the service for a firm within 24 hours and "generate initial actionable analytics insights in weeks, as opposed to conventional approaches that can take months."

U.K. water and wastewater utility Thames Water employs Accenture's Insight Platform to monitor its operating systems and assets, including its sewage facilities and pipe infrastructure. According to Accenture, the Insight Platform has enabled Thames Water to reduce water consumption and improve the management of remote assets by anticipating equipment failures and responding quickly to leaks or damage from extreme weather. Additional information about the Accenture Insights Platform can be found here.

Smappee Announces Energy Monitor for Businesses
Smappee, whose energy monitors and smartphone app were designed to help homeowners save energy and money, has launched Smappee Pro, which is intended to help small and midsize businesses understand and control their energy use. The system also allows business owners to turn specific appliances on and off remotely.

Similar to other energy monitors, such as Curb, Smappee Pro works by tracking the current flowing through circuits in a breaker box. It comes with a device containing leads that attach to up to nine breakers via clamps. This device then transmits energy usage data, either through an Ethernet cable or over Wi-Fi via a USB dongle, to the business' router. Smappee claims that it uses algorithms to determine how much energy each appliance at a facility is using, even if it shares a breaker with other devices.

The Smappee smartphone app tracks usage and can be configured to send alerts when energy use spikes, or if it infers that something that is normally powered on and off intermittently has been left running for an extended period of time. Smappee Pro uses the same breaker box device as Smappee's residential home energy monitoring product, but the Pro comes with a Web portal and smartphone app allowing businesses with multiple offices to track and compare energy usage at multiple locations. This also shows real-time information regarding each office's energy usage and related costs. In addition, Smappee Pro's mobile app sends specific tips and advice to help users conserve energy.

The Smappee Pro includes a device called a Comfort Plug, which sits between an appliance's power cord and a wall outlet. The Comfort Plug communicates, via a proprietary RF protocol, with the Smappee cloud-based servers. Users can log in and see what equipment or appliances are powered on and, if store managers forgot to turn off certain equipment when they left, they can turn them off remotely using the Comfort Plug interface.

Smappee Pro is available now in Europe, with prices starting at 429 ($664). Businesses outside Europe can pre-order Smappee Pro, with pre-order pricing dependant on the number of units purchased. According to Smappee, companies that pre-order before July 30 will receive six complimentary Comfort Plugs.

AAB Smart Tools Launches Bluetooth-Enabled Pressure Meter
AAB Smart Tools, which designs and manufactures smartphone applications enabling users to interact with heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, has launched the SPM-100, a smartphone static pressure meter (SPM), or manometer. The device is designed to make it easy for HVAC technicians to test or monitor pressure settings and share the resulting data. It works like a conventional handheld dual-port manometer, but contains a Bluetooth Low Energy radio module that communicates with an HVAC technician's iOS or Android smartphone via the SPM-100 app, available through iTunes or Google Play.

The app serves as the controls for the manometer, and is required to calibrate and use the device to do such things as measure the static pressure in an HVAC duct. The app also includes tutorials. The SPM-100 is powered by a coin cell battery, which should last for around 500 hours of use. AAB also offers the ABM-100, an anemometer that connects to a smartphone app via Bluetooth. The SPM-100 comes with a set of stainless steel static pressure probes. Contact AAB Smart Tools for pricing and availability.