McDonald’s Gets Softcard

Softcard (formerly Isis), a mobile payment system that competes with Apple Pay and Google Wallet, announced today that it is accepted at more than 14,000 McDonald’s locations around the country beginning today. Smartphone owners can make NFC-based mobile payments at the register and the drive-thru at all McDonald’s restaurants. McDonald’s will also accept Apple Pay.

Last month, Subway also announced a partnership with Softcard to support mobile payments.

Softcard is free to download and is compatible with more than 80 Android handsets sold by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. Softcard combines payments, offers and loyalty in one app. Softcard uses the EMV Contactless specification and SmartTap technology to enable payments, offers and loyalty redemption through one tap.

Apple Pay saw more than one million card activations within 72 hours of launch, reports NFC World, and is already the leading NFC payments player in the US, according to Apple CEO Tim Cook. Cook outlined future growth plans for the service at the WS Journal D Live conference this week, including a potential partnership with Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba.

US pharmacy chains Rite Aid and CVS plan to launch their own CurrentC mobile payment service in 2015, and have stopped accepting NFC payments, blocking mobile payments services like Apple Pay, Google Wallet and Softcard.

Unfortunately, CurrentC is now warning people that hackers have already swiped some of the beta tester’s email addresses.

Mobile proximity payments have to date proven lacklustre despite the hundreds of millions spent on developing these platforms. But loyalty rewards and benefits of the digital wallet is now seen by many as potentially the killer app that will help to finally ignite the long simmering mobile proximity payment market.

Ovum’s research indicates that 53% of consumers globally report they’ve either used or are interested in redeeming offers and coupons with their handsets, while 44% have used or are interested using their mobile device to pay for things in store and restaurants, explains Gilles Ubaghs, Senior Analyst, Financial Services Technology at Ovum.

NWave Joins Weightless SIG

The Weightless SIG, which develops Internet of Things standards for long distance, low cost machine to machine connections, has announced a new parter with NWave technologies joining the group as a technology vendor. Weightless has already picked up some serious backers, including ARM, CSR, and Cable & Wireless.

While many short range M2N solutions are available, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, Z-Wave and others, they cannot provide long-range coverage.

The IEEE standards group has developed a couple of White Space standards that promise better range. Those include the 802.11af standard, based on Wi-Fi like protocols, for ranges up to 5 km. Additionally, the 802.22 standard, based on WiMax chipsets which incorporate polling, are designed for wireless regional area networks with ranges up to 100 km. But both of those standards appear to be targeting broadband connections.

The Weightless standards, by contrast, delivers a slower, narrow-band solution that connects to more devices and requires very little power. It may even be used on licensed cellular frequencies.

The Weightless standard aims to connect sensors that require long range connections and is targeting applications like vehicles and asset tracking, healthcare and metering.

While improved coverage can be supplied by cellular technology using GPRS, 3G and LTE, cellular costs are high, using more power and bandwidth than desirable. The Weightless SIG uses television white spaces and the lower unlicensed ISM band (800-900 MHz) for improved range using a slower but error-resistant data scheme.

Weightless uses a spreading algorithm to create a longer data sequence when the signal levels are weak. It reduces the data rate and shifts to a simpler modulation scheme to reduce the error rate or increase range. It enables coverage up to 5km (3 miles) to indoor terminals.

The Weightless SIG announced the development of the Weightless-W standard, which uses TV white spaces, last year. This year the the Weightless-N standard, using the unlicensed 800/900 MHz ISM band was announced. It uses Ultra Narrow Band (UNB) technology and operates in ISM band – 868MHz in Europe and 915MHz in the US, and may also use cellular frequencies around 800 MHz.

Professor William Webb, CEO of the Weightless SIG said, “We are delighted to welcome NWave Technologies Limited to the Weightless SIG. NWave is a leader in IoT over ISM spectrum and the company’s deep technical experience in LPWAN connectivity will make a significant contribution to the rapid development of Weightless-N. Bringing proven capability from an existing technology provider to the SIG and merging it with the expertise already established within the group will accelerate the development of Weightless-N as the leading global open standard for machine connectivity over licence exempt spectrum.”

See Dailywireless Whitespace articles, including; Qualcomm Buys Silicon Radio, Huawei Buys Neul, Weightless M2M Standard, Version 0.9, Neul’s Weightless Chip: $12

Google Fiber Going Wireless?

Google has applied to the FCC for permission to begin wireless spectrum tests in the San Francisco area. According to Reuters, the company’s looking into a rarely-used millimeter wave frequency that is capable of transmitting large amounts of data, but only if the receiving equipment is in the line-of-sight.

Google reportedly may offer a fast wireless service in markets where it offers Google Fiber Internet and TV service. By beaming Internet services directly into homes, Google would open a new path now dominated by Comcast, Verizon and AT&T.

The Google wireless test, beginning Nov. 13, will apparently include three sites in the San Francisco Bay Area, including one in San Mateo county and two locations a half-mile apart which appear to be on Google’s Mountain View, California campus. It will use the 5.8 GHz frequency, the 24.2 GHz frequency and the millimeter wave bands of 71-76 GHz and 81-86 GHz, according to the application.

The FCC’s meeting on Friday discussed the use of wireless spectrum above 24 GHz for mobile services, including ways the agency can facilitate the development and deployment of technology. Their Notice on Inquiry looks at utilizing frequencies above 24 GHz for mobile use and “5G” applications. The FCC also adopted a Report and Order to facilite and clarify the use of public infrastructure for wireless transmitters.

Google bought Alpental Technologies in June, a stealthy Seattle startup led by ex-Clearwire researchers. Apparently Alpental will utilize 60 GHz 802.11ad and mesh networking.

The FCC loosened some rules governing the 60GHz band last year, saying that it could be used to provide wireless connections of up to a mile at speeds up to seven gigabits per second.

A wireless broadband network is cheaper than fiber. Rather than digging up roads and laying cables to each individual home, transmitters on nearby buildings could enable Google to bring Gigabit internet to more places in less time. Craig Barratt, the former Atheros Communications CEO, is now head of the Google Access and Energy division. He signed off as the authorized person submitting Google’s FCC application.

Aerohive Announces Verizon LTE compliant WiFi Router

Aerohive Networks, a leader in controller-less Wi-Fi for the enterprise market, has introduced their Verizon-embedded LTE plus Wi-Fi branch router. The Aerohive BR200-LTE-VZ Router provides embedded Verizon 4G LTE capabilities. The turnkey solution allows granular control and security, with the ability to set up Quality of Service (QoS), time-of-day access schedules, firewall policies and web security settings.

Aerohive’s BR200 series comes in three models: the BR200, the BR200-WP (which includes PoE and 3×3 3 spatial stream), and the BR200-LTE-VZ which runs on the Verizon network. The BR200-LTE-VZ allows enterprises to instantly deploy Aerohive’s Personal Engagement Platform for retail, enabling retailers to prototype and test new loyalty solutions

Aerohive has been named a Gold-tier member of the Verizon Partner Program. The Verizon Partner Program tailors regional and national opportunities for systems integrators, value added resellers, agents and solutions providers.

Aerohive’s cloud-enabled wireless network can deliver a zero-touch, auto-provisioned network, complete with wired and wireless connectivity, for secure access.

Aerohive’s HiveManager Network Management System has the ability to manage devices from the cloud, so a central administrator can control wireless access remotely, regardless of where the routers are located. Corporate networks can then easily deploy secure, wireless networks and reduce complexity and time-to-operation of Wi-Fi deployments, says Aerohive.

Aerohive’s BR200-LTE-VZ router is available today and starts at $1,199 US list.

IDC predicts that the number of connected “things” will grow from 11.4 billion in 2014 to 28.1 billion in 2020. As a result, branch locations in industries ranging from hospitality to banking must be equipped to meet connectivity needs while ensuring secure, compliant access to corporate resources, says Aerohive.

Qualcomm Buys Silicon Radio, Huawei Buys Neul

Qualcomm is buying British Bluetooth chipset specialist CSR for $US 2.49 billion. Qualcomm said the deal will give it access to CSR’s products, channels and customers in the connect car and Internet of Things markets.

CSR, which is short for Cambridge Silicon Radio, is a pioneer in Bluetooth and its silicon is in portable audio speakers and Apple-owned Beats headphones. CSR rejected a takeover bid from Microchip Technology in August. CSR’s deal with Qualcomm is expected to close by the end of the summer of 2015.

Classic Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy chips are quickly getting commoditized, but CSR is a pioneer of the short-range wireless technology and is now pushing CSRmesh, a ZigBee-like mesh technology built on Bluetooth. CSR sees CSRmesh as a linchpin for its foray into the IoT market, reports EE Times.

In July Qualcomm bought WiGig chipmaker Wilocity, a move designed to enable Qualcomm to easily integrate the 60 GHz Wi-Fi technology into its mobile platforms to enable wireless streaming of 4K video for mobile and settop devices. Qualcomm also developed AllJoyn, an open-source platform that allows devices to share information with other nearby devices.

White space technology in the UK was among the first of its kind in Europe. Their pilot projects utilize unused terrestrial TV broadcasting channels (from 470 MHz to 790 MHz).

The Weightless specification, an open wireless standard, was originally developed for television White Spaces (unused channels in the television band). The Weightless-W spec works in TV White Spaces, but TV channels are not available everywhere and sometimes the full feature set is unnecessary.

For this reason the Weightless SIG is developing a variant called Weightless-N. The two variants of the Standard, Weightless-W (for White Spaces) and Weightless-N (for the unlicensed ISM band) will coexist offering benefits to developers and users according to their specific use cases. Weightless-N will typically be deployed in unlicensed spectrum in the region 800-900MHz such as the 868MHz band in Europe and the 900MHz ISM band in the US. It is also designed to work in licensed spectrum around these frequencies.

The Weightless connectivity platform was developed by Neul (the Gaelic world for ‘cloud’). It was first targeted at the TV white spaces (TVWS) spectrum, but extending the spec to 900MHz and other bands (including licensed) requires some modificiations. The unlicensed bands are narrower than those found in TVWS, and that required some changes to the air interface which are found in Weightless-N. Neul itself has released the first commercial chipset to support the would-be standard, called Iceni.

The Narrowband IoT is designed to work at sub-gigahertz frequencies as part of future 3GPP cellular standards for connecting low data rate devices that have exceptionally long battery life. There is great spectrum efficiency using just 200kHz. It will work at the 450, 850 and 900MHz frequencies used by GSM and at the lower frequencies that some LTE uses.

The CEO of the Weightless special interest group, Professor William Webb, offered up some comment on the launch of Weightless-N, saying “Enabling the vision of 50 billion connected devices requires chipset costs below $2, battery life of 10 years or more and a range of 5km or more to ensure ubiquitous coverage from a low cost network.

Chinese giant Huawei bought Neul for $125m last month. Huawei will reportedly build a “center of excellence” around Neul in the UK.

Weightless will likely compete with IEEE white space standards such as 802.11af and IEEE 802.22 for wireless white space networks.

The 802.11af standard, based on Wi-Fi like protocols, is designed for ranges up to 5 km, while the 802.22 standard is based on WiMax chipsets and incorporates polling, for wireless regional area networks with ranges up to 100 km.

Opensource Dronecode Project Announced

The Dronecode Project, administered by the nonprofit Linux Foundation, aims to establish common technology for use across the industry. The concept behind Dronecode is to create an open hardware and software stack, where companies can plug in modules for enhanced performance whether it be sensors, piloting, mission planning or other functions. The Android ecosystem is their model.

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Chris Anderson, who started DIY Drones and later 3D Robotics, is behind Dronecode. It utilizes open source hardware and software and includes the APM/ArduPilot UAV software platform and associated code. Examples of Dronecode projects include APM/ArduPilot, Mission Planner, MAVLink and DroidPlanner.

Founding members include 3D Robotics, Baidu, Box, DroneDeploy, Intel, jDrones, Laser Navigation, Qualcomm, Skyward.io, Squadrone System and others.

PX4 ​is an independent, open-source, open-hardware project aiming at providing a high-end autopilot. The PX4 from 3D Robotics, for example, features advanced processor and sensor technology for controlling any autonomous vehicle.

ArduPilot (also ArduPilotMega – APM), was created in 2007 by the DIY Drones community, based on the Arduino open-source electronics prototyping platform.

H.265 encoding, available on Qualcomm’s 810 smartphone processor can reduce HD bandwidth by 50%. Portland’s Elemental Technologies can do the number crunching in the cloud, bring real-time video to all manner of displays.

OpenVX provides mobile developers with an industry standard API to deliver embedded computer vision and computational imaging chipsets that can keep UAVs on track.

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“Open source software and collaborative development are advancing technologies in the hottest, most cutting-edge areas. The Dronecode Project is a perfect example of this,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation.

“By becoming a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project, the Dronecode community will receive the support required of a massive project right at its moment of breakthrough. The result will be even greater innovation and a common platform for drone and robotics open source projects.”

See: Columbia River Drones