Iotera aims to use unlicensed spectrum for long-range tracking

Startup Iotera says it is developing a low-power, long-range wireless tracking technology that relies upon unlicensed spectrum over a range exceeding eight miles.

Iotera--the "Iot" refers to the Internet of Things concept--has designed a radio-frequency protocol and prototype hardware for sensing and control using what it calls "free" wireless spectrum. The small Redwood City, Calif., company was founded in 2009 and is funded by ZenShin Capital.

Iotera's cloud-based tracking service relies upon the use of key fob-size tags that are attached to the objects to be tracked. The startup claims the tags can run for up to four months without recharging. According to MIT Technology Review, the GPS-embedded tags communicate with the company's cloud service via small base stations, or access points, which measure less than 1 foot tall and cost a few hundred dollars each. Iotera also has a Web app and mobile app that complement the location-tracking service.

The startup's positioning service can be applied to just about anything, including tools, inventory, pets and people. Iotera is initially building a child tracking service that relies upon a tag attached to a child's backpack. The company claims to have a "powerful distribution partner" for the service, details of which are not yet publicly available.

Robert Barton, Iotera cofounder, told MIT Technology Review that the number of tags supported by the company's access points will vary depending upon application. Uses that require only infrequent data transfers, such as hourly water meter updates, could support 10,000 or more tags per access point. However, active tracking of a pet or item that requires the transmission of GPS location data every 30 seconds would reduce tag support to hundreds per access point.

For more:
- see this Iotera website
- see this MIT Technology Review article

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