Monday 14 May 2018

Real IoT 2018: Smart Bicycle (continued from 2016 article)

Following on from the 2016 realworld IoT article on IoT and M2M, as we used to call it :), is a 2018 view on how that has update, again via another Kickstarter success.

Here at Conecto IoT HQ we have been testing quite a few innovative travel and sprot related IoT products that are interesting in that they pose a problem for non Cloud IoT platforms, in that:

  1. Nobody knows their usage pattern, which causes problems for "box and wires" IoT as they do not know how to dimension the service
  2. Lot's of people get obsessed with them being either high bandwidth 4G (not needed, honestly) or crappy 2G which is being turned off quicker than any new IoT models can go mass market, more on that below.
Many of these have been in the cycling space, and are confidential / require permission to publish, however one I want to share is public, and its the long awaited Hammerhead Karoo, which I have now had time to test with a Conecto IoT Connect SIM, which is sold to customers on AWS IoT platform via one of our partners and is available in test packs by contacting Conecto directly and making your case.

The British Summer is a great testing ground for riders ability to apply the Velominati cycling rule #9 as well as test IoT
And this is where the true meaning or Real World comes in. Everybody is talking about IoT needing 100s MB or even GB, but that is the key: these people are just talking about IoT. People who are actually doing IoT know that for every high bandwidth SIM, there are literally thousands to millions of low bandwidth SIMs, and volume my friends, is all that matters in IoT!

So it was refreshing for Hammerhead to do two things with the Hammerhead Karoo while I was busy testing 4 SIMs, 18 IMSIs and 4 IoT devices on a typical rainy summer's day in the UK
  1. They have paired it down to the bare bones of android, even to the point that when I signed in on Google I had an alert from an "unknown OS"! More on that in a bit; it would at least be nice to see the Operator logo, since I spent 5 mins, the time it takes on the Conecto platform, to edit the SIMs service provider name to "Hammerhead".
  2. The devices is 4G ready, but does not have 4G enabled yet. This is good, due to the roaming nature of the Conecto SIM I always had 4 to 5 bars of signal, even in the depths of the Surrey Hills, and this was good as we will see later. So many devices are 2G only and we can see that in dense urban areas in the UK these have now been turned off, as has 2G in its entirety on the AT&T network. 
So onto the good bits, how much data does it use and is 3G a substitute for Wi-Fi. Well yes and no. By pure coincidence Virgin were working on my Wi-Fi when I was trying to download a route, so I switched to 3G and

  • The Karoo downloaded a 92km route with Maps very quickly with a total of 31,784,010 bytes, or 32mb to you an me, and that was with a download failure in the middle due to, ok me taking the device past the part of the building I call the "faraday cage". Obviously that would not have been as much fun for the obligatory software update that went before it, however, which fortunately I had Wi-Fi for. Even if I did not have Wi-Fi for it, I would have gone past somewhere I know that has it before the ride, like the office, or local cafe.
So how much does it use in a ride, I hear you ask??? Well I can tell you:

  • During a 92km ride the Karoo used 9,847,998 bytes exactly, or 10mb to you and me, and this was a ride which due to me entering and leaving a faraday cage of an entrance 3 or four times to still misjudge clothing and accessories for British summer (wet) riding, I had the "Waiting for GPS error" all the ride, something I would normally have to restart other GPS devices for, but the Karoo was tracking the route better than the devices the route was done on, so left it using the mobile signal a-GPS to keep riding; again, win for the SIM device!
Despite the "waiting for GPS" warning, with a SIM in it the Karoo tracked the route better than the source GPS route!
So what is my point here? Well it's to force home the fact that even this high end Android device could get by using less than 100mb a month, and its here today making our life easier and saving us previous hardware reboot and satellite search time... This is also important as it also affects battery life. I got the same battery usage as people in the forum got with Cellular / mobile turned off, which is important for the data on the go. There is no point my being able to download a software update on the fly if it then (inevitably) gives me range anxiety on a long ride.

Also, in case you are wondering, the average IoT SIM on our platform uses 1.2Mb per month, with the vast Majority being under 1Mb and a small % being in the 10-100mb zone.

Also read the 2016 Realworld IoT article on smart bikes