Google Takes Over Beacon Industry Adding Security to Eddystone

iBeacon was initially introduced by Apple in September 2013. The technology uses low cost (starts at $5) and low power Bluetooth Smart devices that broadcast data to smartphones to trigger actions in a mobile application.

The system was initially used for retail but has evolved into much more than that (entertainment, transport, etc.), to the point where market research firm ABI Research forecasts shipments in excess of 400 million by 2020. A whole industry was born from the beacon idea with hundreds of hardware and software company focussing on the technology and related application fields.

In 2015 Google replied to Apple with a similar beacon standard called Eddystone. Eddystone was already more sophisticated than iBeacon, offering the opportunity to trigger a mobile browser instead of an app and to broadcast a data packet with richer functionalities such as the transport of additional sensor information.

Security problem

By design, the Apple iBeacon advertisement frame is plainly visible, which can be a problem. First it can be replicated which open ways to spoofing. Second because it can be used by competing third parties. A retailer you could potentially trigger its own app when it is nearby a beacon in the shop of one of its competitors.

Encrypted beacon data

To secure beacons, Google last week introduced Ephemeral IDs (EID), a beacon frame in the Eddystone format that gives developers more power to control who can make use of the beacon signal.

Eddystone-EID enables a new set of use cases where it is important for users to be able to exchange information securely and privately. Since the beacon frame changes periodically, the signal is only useful to clients with access to a resolution service that maps the beacon’s current identifier to stable data. In other words, the signal is only recognizable to a controlled set of users.

Eddystone-EID works with Android but also with iOS.

When Google takes the lead

When launched last year Eddystone had been immediately embraced by a number of hardware beacon vendors.

Now EID is supported at launch by more than 15 companies, including some of the most well know beacon vendors: Gimbal, Estimote, Radius Networks, Sensoro to name just these.

In addition to beacon manufacturers, Google has been working with a range of innovative companies to demonstrate Eddystone-EID in a variety of different scenarios.

As an example, the leading luggage brand Samsonite and Spanish beacon manufacturer Accent Systems are developing a suitcase with Eddystone-EID where users can securely keep track of their personal luggage.

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TomTom Revenue up 6% in 1Q 2016

GPS maker TomTom announced today €217.2 million in revenue in the first quarter of 2016, up 6 percent.

The net result for the quarter was €4.8 million, which translates to adjusted earnings per shareof €0.03.

TomTom maintained their full year financial outlook with revenue expected of around €1,050 million and adjusted EPS of around €0.23.

In his statement TomTom’s CEO Harold Goddijn expressed the interest of the company in the aftermarket connected car segment:

“We are also developing new products for the Connected Car services industry, which take advantage of the capabilities of our Telematics technology. This allows us to target new business and consumer markets, including OEMs, dealerships, importers, servicing and leasing companies and the usage-based insurance (UBI) sector."

Consumer business

Total Consumer revenue for the quarter was €117 million, compared with €122 million in the same quarter last year (down 4 percent). The Automotive hardware revenue (part of the consumer division) decreased by 6% year on year to €20 million in the quarter (Q1 2015: €21 million).

Total Consumer products revenue amounted to €97 million in the quarter, compared with €101 million in the same quarter last year.

“The year on year decrease was driven by lower PND and related content & services revenue partly offset by a considerable growth in Sport revenue,“ the company stated.

“Consumer Sport saw the sell-out nearly doubling year on year“ added TomTom’s CEO Harold Goddijn in its conference call with financial analysts.

The PND market was estimated by TomTom at 1.1 million pieces in Europe (where TomTom owned 52% market share, up 1% against last year) and 500,000 units in North America (TomTom had 17% market share, growing 1% against Q1 2015).

Automotive business up 26%

Automotive business generated revenue of €30 million in the quarter, an increase of 26% year on year. This growth is “ reflecting growth in maps and traffic revenue underpinned by recently announced contracts,“ TomTom stated

Licensing revenue increased 16%

TomTom’s Licensing revenue was €34 million in the quarter, 16% higher compared with the same quarter last year (Q1 2015: €29 million).

“The year on year increase reflects growth in our Consumer Licensing and Geospatial segments driven by new customer wins as well as by renewing/extending existing customer contracts starting from Q2 2015,“ TomTom indicated.

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PSA Used TomTom Maps in Amsterdam Driverless Car Demo

Last week French car maker PSA demonstrated their driverless know-how in “driving“ a couple of cars from Paris to Amsterdam.

The two Citroën C4 Picasso cars left Vélizy, France in "eyes off" mode, i.e., without driver supervision, and covered several hundred kilometres between Paris and Amsterdam on authorised stretches of road.

"Eyes off" mode corresponds to the third level of autonomous driving, which means the driver need not take any action aside from simply verifying that systems are functioning properly.

TomTom provided HD Map and RoadDNA products to enable PSA Group to participate in the self-driving car demonstration in Amsterdam.

HD map is a high precision map for driverless cars and RoadDNA is a compressed database of road surroundings allowing the car to precisely match its position on the map even at high speed.

EU Transport Ministers Agreed on Policy for Autonomous Driving

Gathered today in Amsterdam, the transport ministers of the 28 state member of the European Union have agreed on a declaration that promotes cooperation in the field of connected and automated driving.

In this document the European Commission and EU member states and the transport industry pledged to draw up rules and regulations that will allow driverless vehicles to be used on the roads.

The agreement was welcomed by car manufacturers. “Our industry welcomes the Declaration of Amsterdam as an important milestone that promotes much-needed cooperation between automobile manufacturers, national governments and the EU institutions,â€? said Erik Jonnaert, Secretary General of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA).

Read the full document below:

TomTom Launches New Traffic Portal for Cities

TomTom announced this week at the Intertraffic trade show in Amsterdam, a new traffic portal called TomTom City that provides live traffic and travel information for consumers and traffic management experts.

Ralf-Peter Schäfer, Head of Traffic at TomTom, commented the news: “TomTom City gives drivers and traffic managers essential insights into the real-time traffic situation and the historical bottlenecks in key cities. This is an important step in our mission to help reduce delays for all drivers.

Using data from over 450 million devices globally (i.e. Portable Navigation Devices, connected smartphone applications, in-dash navigation and fleet management systems) we are creating services that will help cities and connected cars work together to optimise the road network.”

Key Features in TomTom City are real-time traffic status, delay hotspots and a reporting tool for road authorities.

Key indicators

The status indicators show the current average speed observed in the city compared to average speed when there is no congestion; a congestion barometer showing relative congestion compared to a free-flowing period; and a snapshot that shows the number of road closures, construction areas and accidents currently in the city. In addition, TomTom City also shows the traffic incidents on a map, and the traffic flow (speed) on a map. The Traffic information is updated every minute.

Congestion Hotspots

TomTom City shows the top congestion bottlenecks recorded in the recent quarterly period. The information is presented as a summary for ‘All Day’ and separately for morning and afternoon peak periods to reflect the periodical traffic conditions in cities. Summary information is presented on a map view and each hotspot can be selected individually to see road segment delay details.

Reporting Tool for Cities

Road Event Reporter is a new web-based tool that helps road authorities to inform TomTom Traffic users about events that are affecting the road network and its traffic flows. With a few clicks a road authority can report road closures, road works, accidents and other disruptions that are affecting traffic in their local area, now, as well as those planned in the future.

Indoor Solar-Powered Beacons, the Way of the Future?

“Battery-life is one of the biggest challenges for the Beacon industry growth due to the high servicing costs. Each time a beacon requires a replacement battery there is an associated service cost, and that adds to the total cost of ownership,” said Barry Jenkins from UK-based GCell, a new maker of Bluetooth beacons for proximity marketing.

The company just announced their entry into the iBeacon hardware market with the G100 Indoor Solar Beacon. This energy harvesting iBeacon offers a renewable energy supply and a 100-millisecond advertising rate as default.

Price of the GCell G100 starts at £33 GBP at low volumes and the company offers discounts for large volumes.

Collaborative Parking Startup Zenpark Raised €6.1M

French collaborative parking startup Zenpark has announced today a funding round of €6.1 million to develop its business that consists in monetizing unused parking spaces in large cities.

The new investors in the company are MAIF Avenir and DEMETER Partners (already an investor), as well as Frédéric Mazzella, the co-founder of BlaBlaCar. Zenpark has raised €8 million to date.

Zenpark was created in 2011 and their turnover in 2015 was €600,000. They work primarily with hotels, administrations, and owners of large residential buildings that have an inventory of parking places underutilized.

The startup equips the parking for free with a system that automatically opens the gate to Zenpark users (via a mobile phone or a remote control) and they share revenue with the owner.

With this funding the company targets to have 1,000 shared parking within the next two years, reinforcing its position of leader in France and starting in other countries in Europe. The company currently opens 15 new parking per month with partners.

With 20 employees today the company forecast to double its staff by the end of the year.

William Rosenfeld, the CEO of Zenpark, was among the speakers at the ConnecteDriver conference organized by GPS Business News last January, where smart parking professionals had converged to discuss the future of the industry.

Koolicar Raised €18M for P2P Car Sharing

French peer-to-peer car sharing startup Koolicar announced today a financial round of €18 million.

PSA Peugeot Citroën took part in the capital increase alongside MAIF, Koolicar’s historic partner since 2010.

The previous round of funding was made in September 2014 when MAIF invested €2.4 million followed by business angels with €200,000.

"This new investment will allow us to install the Box in nearly 30,000 vehicles, which will represent the world’s largest network of private vehicles in car sharing,“ explained Stéphane Savouré, Founding President of Koolicar.

“We will also continue our Research and Development program to provide car owners with features that make car sharing even simpler, more fun and more enjoyable.“

Now present in around 40 French cities, with over 60,000 registered users, Koolicar started up its peer-to-peer car sharing operations back in 2012.

The system is based on a connected box that can be fitted on any type of vehicle, enabling keyless transactions:the door is unlocked by a RFID card or a mobile phone and the car keys are found in the glove box. The connected box calculate the mileage and lease duration, and geolocate the car 24/7.

"Our acquisition of a stake in Koolicar is another step forward in our strategy as a mobility services operator,“ said Brigitte Courtehoux, PSA Senior Vice-President, Connected Services and Mobility.

SenionLab, MySeat & SystemicsCode Partner with Micello for Indoor Maps

Micello, the worldwide provider of indoor maps has announced three new partnerships in the last few weeks.

Indoor location technology vendor SenionLab, workspace management startup MySeat and private ad-exchange and analytics platform SystemicsCode have integrated indoor maps from Micello into their platform.

MySeat

MySeat offers technology solutions for workspace management. The company has designed innovative sensors that can be attached unobtrusively to the office chairs. The sensors feed real-time utilization and other ambient data to a portal where it is meshed up with the interactive maps provided by Micello, to create visual analytics and other space utilization information. MySeat’s statistical dashboard allows the workspace planners to measure and optimize space utilization and also understand how their indoor environment is being used over time.

SystemicsCode

SystemicsCode, a provider of private Ad-Exchange and Analytics Platform,is using the maps to provide hyper local context and location based advertising services for venue owners.

Under this partnership, Micello maps are integrated into the AdMoln platform which offers advertisers and publishers a combination of analytics, forecasting, workflow, targeting, and ad campaign optimization tools.

SenionLab

Sweden-based SenionLab is providing indoor location technology. Their StepInside platform is a customizable, cloud-based tool offering a variety of service plug-ins:

– StepInside Analytics provides in-depth analysis and statistical insights about crowded areas or visitor flow in a venue.

– StepInside Beacon Management manages and monitors overall network and individual beacons.

– StepInside Wayfinder, enables the users to interact with points of interest within a venue.

– StepInside GeoMessenger lets users to interact with a venue based on their current location.

All the four plug-ins are now integrated with and leverage Micello’s indoor maps.

“This unique integration of Micello maps into our platform offers a smart roadmap for businesses to excel in providing location-based services to their customers as well as in obtaining a real-time analytics and statistical data for enhancing the customer experience,â€? said Christian Lundquist, Co-founder & CEO of SenionLab.

“It’s not just about technology, dude!” – The human ingredients to make autonomous cars successful

The excitement about the automated car — aka autonomous aka self-driving car — is unstoppable. While few years ago only some industry insiders and nerds discussed about automated systems that will be part of our urban traffic tomorrow, it has now turned into a mainstream topic.

The reason is simple: The automated car has become a reality.

As usual if tech trends turn super popular, Silicon Valley is involved. Google is pushing with its fleet of cars running in and around the Silicon Valley, General Motors is stepping up its game through acquiring specialist company Cruise Automation from San Francisco and Tesla grabbed headlines, when they recently announced that their cars can run autonomously already today.

Fact is that many of today’s high-end cars have systems on board that already allow certain autonomous behaviour — such as auto-control of breaking, cruise control, lane control etc. A modern high end car can today manage to cruise at high speed and come to a complete stop before it would smash into the last car of a traffic jam.

But for truly self-driving cars the ultimate goal is not to have certain functions taken over by the computer, but to drive the car completely independently from any interaction with a ‘driver’. Many of the case studies of car makers have front seats that can be turned 180° around to face the rear seats.

The assumption is that people can talk, read or watch while the car is moving. There is no human attention needed — at least not with respect to the car’s movement.

On automotive and tech conferences there is always one dominant question — when will a fully automated car become reality on our streets, with many vehicles by different car manufacturers and of different sizes etc.? Not like the Google fleet today, which is being monitored in a lab-like testing field and which is not driving any faster than 30km/h. The answer to this question usually varies between 5 and 20 years. It seems that most people consider the technical challenge the main hurdle to be overcome – followed by legal issues such as the question, if a computer can be held responsible for creating an accident.

The electrical vehicle (EV) is in a similar state: the technology is mature (if we can agree for batteries that a range of 400 kilometres is sufficient…). There are many reasons to buy an EV today, but the overall number of EV’s does not take off so far. Consumers don’t appreciate the advantages and they consider a conventional car still more convenient.

The same is true for the autonomous car. The AAA (American Automotive Association) found in a recent study that almost 40% of all people don’t even want features in their cars as they are described above. They don’t trust technology, they believe they can drive better than a system or they just state that it’s annoying.

The same study also said that 75% of all motorists would be afraid of using a fully automated car, and only 20% would be comfortable to be chauffeured by a computer.

There are more studies that show the same picture and they all have in common that they look from a motorist’s point of view. However, one perspective hasn’t been discussed so far extensively, which will play a major role with respect to acceptance and breakthrough of fully automated vehicles — the society in general.

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