All three founding members of Connected Finland. (left. Marko Vanninen, Tom Lindblad and Markku Patronen)
Connected Finland – giving voice to technology
Network operator Connected Finland is on its way to creating the first ever nationwide mobile network dedicated to the internet of things (IoT). The network makes use of the worldwide Sigfox technology, which originated in France and currently spans 24 countries. More countries are constantly signing up, and it is expected that by the end of 2016, 30 more will have come on board. Connected Finland is the local Finnish operator and now forms part of the Sigfox ecosystem.
“We are setting out to go nationwide by May 2017,” says Tom Lindblad, one of the founding members of Connected Finland. The outlook is excellent, as new base stations are fast being set up around Finland. Currently, Connected Finland’s coverage exceeds the critical 50 per cent mark.
How it all began
Around a year ago, Sigfox contacted the Connected Finland team and explained that they would like to bring their network to Finland as part of their global expansion efforts. “Sigfox got in touch to express their interest in collaborating with us. It obviously didn’t take us long to think the offer through. We are all thrilled to be part of a fast growing industry where devices and objects can communicate via the internet.”
Connected Finland is based at Innopoli 1 in Otaniemi, Espoo, which is also home to a number of other tech industry businesses. “Being surrounded by other well-known and highly regarded tech industry operators brings that extra bit of added credibility for us as well. We also collaborate with a couple of our neighbours,” Lindblad reveals.
Making use of Sigfox technology
Devices that currently make use of Sigfox technology include smart water meters, water leak detection systems and small-scale alarm systems. Lindblad explains that Sigfox technology also ideally lends itself for use in electric meters, street lighting, radiators and even vehicles. In fact, the human imagination is the only limit. In terms of street lighting, for example, the technology would be particularly useful for monitoring functionality. Maintenance staff would no longer need to drive around checking for malfunctioning lights when, instead, the light fixture itself could alert them to any problems. A quick glance at a computer would be enough to reveal the location of all burned out street light bulbs in Finland. Owners can also choose to fit their bikes and cars with Sigfox radio modules that allow them to track and monitor their whereabouts online.
A good example of an interesting and multi-functional device that makes use of the Sigfox technology is the bttn Button. The Button can be used to order a taxi, send a message or even submit a wholesale order, all with the push of a single button. The Button is suitable for businesses and consumers alike and can be tailored to the user’s unique needs and specifications. The Button is the world’s simplest internet use interface.
To make use of Sigfox technology, a device will need to be fitted with a Sigfox radio module, after which it can linked up to communicate online. The Sigfox radio modules do not require direct mains power as they are battery-operated, and their estimated battery life can exceed ten years. The modules offer excellent coverage and there is no need for dense base station networks. The modules are also extremely affordable, which allows for rapid development of products aimed at the SME sector. The devices are highly energy efficient and, thanks to long-range radio technology, also extremely user-friendly.
The market for this type of technology is growing constantly at an exponential pace. In fact, Connected Finland aims to have more than one million devices connected to the network by the end of 2017.
The international Makers Tour, organised by Sigfox, will be arriving in Helsinki in mid-December. The free event is an opportunity for product developers to receive handy hints and tips from Sigfox on how to commence their own development process and what the process might look like. Lindblad recommends the event to all tech fans and anyone with an interest in Sigfox. Further information about the event will shortly be available on the Connected Finland website.