Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Particle provides ability to track mobile assets

Steve Rogerson
May 5, 2020

California-based edge-to-cloud IoT platform Particle has introduced a system that provides organisations with the ability to track the location of a wide variety of mobile assets.
In a study, Particle surveyed over 1000 IoT engineers and industry experts, and found asset tracking ranked as one of the top three most in-demand applications for IoT technology.
Built on the Particle platform spanning integrated IoT hardware, edge software, connectivity and cloud-based management software, the tracking system helps users track the real-time location of critical assets and capture additional intelligence via sensor data including temperature and acceleration as well as remotely control mobile equipment and vehicles.
Asset tracking operations are critical for both emerging and established industries, including supply chain and logistics providers, cold chain operations, micromobility businesses such as connected scooter and ebike vendors, transportation, and general purpose high-value capital asset tracking and monitoring. While conventional asset tracking and telematics tools have often historically focused on basic use cases such as collecting the location data of critical assets, capabilities powered by IoT technologies enable organisations to develop more sophisticated methods to support industry-specific use cases.
For example, transportation and logistics managers use real-time data and for fleet management, to monitor the quality of goods in transit, and identify where organisations can save energy and resources. Cold chain logistics providers need to ensure quality and compliance for at rest and in-transit goods such as food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals. Manufacturers and distributors of machines and equipment across a wide range of industries from construction to equipment rental firms must track the location of high-value capital assets to increase asset use, prevent theft and loss, and monitor inventory. And micromobility providers require not only basic capabilities to track scooters and ebikes by location, but also need to update the device remotely to improve their products continually and address evolving compliance standards as well as monitor operational status, such as tracking whether a scooter's headlights are on or off upon parking.
Particle's tracking system builds on the existing edge-to-cloud IoT platform with the following offerings:

  • Tracking Services is a suite of software purpose-built for asset tracking applications that extends Particle's platform with geolocation services (mapping and geodatabase) and a configuration service for defining fleet-wide behaviour such as reporting interval on-the-fly. The suite also includes an open firmware application framework for devices that integrates with off-the-shelf IoT sensors and can be deeply customised to support sophisticated tracker applications.
  • Tracker SoM is a configurable, and extensible IoT system-on-module (SoM) that builds on Particle's tracking services foundation and provides MCU, GNSS and peripherals in a compact form factor. Tracker SoM serves as an accelerated starting point for organisations that require tailored tracking for applications as well as a certified foundation for original equipment manufacturers developing commercial products.
  • Tracker One is a field-ready asset tracker that uses the Particle tracking services and SoM to provide an out-of-the-box product that incorporates edge hardware, edge software, cellular connectivity and software capabilities. Tracker One is fully certified, immediately deployable, and requires no additional development on the behalf of users.
"IoT is an extraordinarily broad industry, and many businesses who want to remotely monitor or control their machines and equipment don't have high-quality off-the-shelf IoT products available to them that suit their needs," said Zach Supalla, CEO of Particle. "With Particle's new asset tracking developments, we are providing a field-ready product that can be modified, reconfigured and reprogrammed to suit the needs of every customer with mobile machines, vehicles and equipment, allowing them to quickly start collecting critical data and real-time intelligence off these machines and assets and start solving real problems for their customers."
The integrated software suite offers an intuitive interface to monitor assets, configure hardware, manage remote over-the-air updates, generate reports and manage integrations.
The all-in-one edge-to-cloud platform spans purpose-built edge hardware, edge software, cellular connectivity and management software to avoid the cost, complexity and security risks of a piecemeal approach.
Global cellular connectivity options include LTE Cat M1 in North America and LTE Cat 1 with 3G and 2G fall back in EMEAA.
It provides accurate real-time location tracking with GNSS and on-board dead-reckoning for 1.8m CEP50 GPS accuracy paired with on-board capabilities including a high-precision thermistor as well as an accelerometer and gyroscope for motion detection, positioning and orientation insight.
Extensibility is via an on-board integrated Can Bus controller and transceiver as well as an IO expander for additional capability via industry standard protocols.
Purpose-built, open source edge software for device management out-of-the-box is paired with accessible libraries for configuration and custom development.
"As the world's first platform offering logistics players smart, light electric vehicles as a service, IoT-enabled asset tracking capabilities are critical to our business and Particle has been a trusted provider and strong partner," says Mina Nada, CEO and co-founder of Bolt Bikes. "We are excited to see Particle's continued advancement with the introduction of their new asset tracking and look forward to continuing to leverage their edge-to-cloud offering."
Particle is venture backed and has offices in San Francisco, Shenzhen, Las Vegas, Minneapolis and Boston. It boasts what it says is the largest developer community in the IoT industry, with nearly 200,000 developers and engineers in more than 170 countries building with Particle.