Atari's going to build IoT devices that talk over a low-power network

The consumer devices coming out this year will always transmit their locations

The latest entrant in the Internet of Things is legendary gaming company Atari, which plans to make consumer devices that communicate over the SigFox low-power network.

The devices will be for homes, pets, lifestyle, and safety. Over the SigFox network, users will be able to see the location and status of their devices at all times, the companies said. They’re set to go into production this year.

The Atari brand dates back to the 1970s, when the company introduced the early video game Pong and went on to make a series of popular video games and consoles. The company in its current form hasn’t been selling any form of hardware.

SigFox is one of several startups building specialized networks for IoT devices. Its technology is designed to carry tiny amounts of data in two directions with low-power consumption so small, battery-operated devices can run for years without recharging.

One advantage of SigFox is that it doesn't force consumers to set up cellular service or pair their devices with something nearby. Each hardware product will connect itself to the network as soon as the batteries go in, the companies said.

But SigFox isn’t the only company pushing this kind of technology, called LPWAN (low-power wide-area network), which Machina Research estimates will connect nearly 1.5 billion devices by 2020. Rivals include Ingenu, with its own proprietary technology, and companies using the LoRaWAN and NB-IoT systems.

The SigFox network is in use or being deployed in 18 countries, and more than 7 million devices are registered for use on the network. But it takes a long time to build out a new network across a country like the U.S., where SigFox covers only a few areas now.

Many uses of the SigFox network involve big industrial customers like energy companies with smart meters. More consumer devices from a well-known brand like Atari may create broader demand to support wider deployments.

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Stephen Lawson

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