Kate Wright, Head of Consumer Services & Innovation at Vodafone UK, talks about making IoT accessible for consumers and helping families protect what matters.
By Kate Wright, Head of Consumer Services & Innovation | Vodafone UK
When I talk about Internet of Things (IoT), people often assume I’m talking about digital assistants like Alexa or Google Home, or smart thermostats like Hive or Nest. That’s because for most consumers, smart home devices are the most familiar type of IoT technology. Many of us are already using these kinds of products in our homes – 52% of UK consumers say they own some form of connected device, mostly of the smart entertainment variety, such as smart TVs. But there’s so much more to IoT than smart TVs and smart thermostats.
I want to introduce “V by Vodafone”, an easy to install, easy to use service for consumers to connect and manage multiple IoT devices. This service includes a connected car dongle, a 4G security camera, a pet location and activity tracker, and a bag location tracker, all using the “V-Sim by Vodafone” designed for IoT services. With “V by Vodafone”, we’re making IoT accessible for consumers, so that families in the UK can take advantage of IoT to help them protect what matters.
The rise of consumer IoT
Why these products in particular, and why now? Analyst estimates suggest that by 2020 there will be more than 370 million consumer electronics and smart home devices capable of connection to mobile IoT networks in the countries in which Vodafone operates, up from around 50 million today.[i]
And in the UK, fast moving consumer goods – such as connected security and pet tracking devices – are expected to be one of the most widely adopted IoT offerings, with an expected 39.9 million connections by 2024[ii], according to a report published by Ofcom. These kinds of growth trends represent a huge opportunity for Vodafone, and I believe we’re well placed to help consumers take advantage of them.
Leveraging Vodafone’s world-leading IoT experience
To develop “V by Vodafone”, we’re fortunate to be able to draw on more than 10 years of experience delivering IoT products and services to enterprise customers. Today we’re recognised as a world leader in IoT, with 59 million IoT connections and an international network and services platform for a wide range of business-critical applications. [iii]
A sector where Vodafone is especially strong is automotive – with 10 million connections and availability in 18 markets, we provide connected car services for more vehicle models, from more manufacturers, in more countries, than any other company.[iv] Plus our 4G IoT roaming footprint is the world’s largest, covering 109 countries.
With “V by Vodafone” we’re crossing over from enterprise into the consumer space, bringing the benefits of our dedicated global IoT network – the largest of its kind in the world – to UK consumers.
How “V by Vodafone” is demystifying IoT
As with any new innovation, there are potential challenges ahead. For a start, some consumers might question whether IoT products would be useful and relevant to them. Others might assume that you have to be a tech expert to make use of a technology as advanced as IoT. There are also customers who are mainly concerned about the cost, and understandably so. At the moment, many companies offering consumer IoT services provide a standard data SIM designed for a mobile or tablet, rather than for an IoT device. This means you have to pay a much higher price.
Customers also worry about data consumption and bill shock. If you don’t know how much data your IoT device is going to use, how will you know much your bill will be? There are also worries about the complexity of it all. How would you manage multiple SIM cards and accounts for each IoT device, for example?
At Vodafone, we’re on a mission to demystify IoT. That’s why our aim from the start was to design user-friendly products that consumers can immediately relate to, so that the value-add is clear. We focused on families, and on three fundamental needs in particular: making their everyday lives easier; helping them stay in control; and protecting what matters to them. Here’s how we’re doing that:
- “V by Vodafone” makes it simple to connect and easy to manage IoT products – the “V by Vodafone” app shows you your connected devices in one place;
- there’s no contract, which means you can switch the services on and off depending on your changing needs; and
- there’s an affordable, fixed price every month, so you never need to worry about how much data your devices are using[v] – and you can take the service on holiday.[vi]
With low service fees, no contracts, and no out of bundle payments, we’ve made sure that “V by Vodafone” is flexible, transparent and convenient.
Helping families protect what matters
Available at our eShop here, you can now purchase the following products:
- V-Auto by Vodafone: A “plug and drive” dongle that you can fit in the car in seconds, this device’s Auto SOS feature ensures the car owner is contacted and offered support if an accident occurs while driving. If there is no response, an automated call is made to the emergency services. This provides the kind of eCall capability that will be a mandatory safety feature required of all new cars sold in the EU from 2018, but does so simply and cheaply for older vehicles that would not otherwise benefit from this potentially life-saving technology. Also, if you have a family member who’s learning to drive, they can use the Safety Score to monitor whether they’re driving safely, and with the “Find My Car” feature, car owners can track their vehicle’s whereabouts anytime.
- V-Camera by Vodafone: A high-definition mobile security camera, “V-Camera by Vodafone” – the Arlo Go – helps you keep a constant eye on your home, or any other thing that’s important to you, while you’re not there. This could include garages, mobile homes, boats, allotments and more. The camera automatically connects to Vodafone’s IoT network, and allows for continuous video monitoring wherever there is 3G or 4G coverage. It is also equipped with motion detection and two-way voice communications. Since “V-Camera by Vodafone” relies on our network, you don’t ever have to worry that it’s outside the range of your home Wi-Fi coverage.
- V-Pet by Vodafone: a location and activity tracker for dogs and cats, this device sends you a smartphone alert as soon as your pet strays from its designated area. Ideal for monitoring dogs and cats that may be prone to escaping, this tracker enables you to monitor your pets using a combination of GPS and the mobile network. You can also use the activity monitor to track your pet’s movements and make sure it’s getting enough exercise. If you notice your pet’s activity is down, it could be a sign that perhaps something isn’t right.
- V-Bag by Vodafone: an advanced briefcase, handbag and schoolbag tracker, V-Bag by Vodafone helps you protect your belongings and reduce the risk of theft or loss. You can set up a smartphone alert to notify you if your bag is moved from a designated space, such as a playground or a crowded bar.
That’s just the beginning. We’ll be introducing even more services over the coming months, so stay tuned for updates – follow us on Twitter @VodafoneUKNews, or visit our Media Centre at https://newscentre.vodafone.co.uk/.
Notes to editors:
[i] Company estimates derived from Analysys Mason, Berg Insight, Ericsson, Strategy Analytics and Vodafone proprietary information.
[ii] By the end of 2016 there were estimated to be about 13.3 million IoT connections in the UK, according to the Cambridge Consultants’ model used in the Ofcom report. This figure is expected to grow at a compound average growth rate of roughly 36% to 155.7 million connections by the end of 2024. See “Review of latest developments in the Internet of Things”, March 2017.
[iii] Research from Analysys Mason and Current Analysis. Vodafone has also been positioned as a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Managed M2M Services worldwide for the fourth consecutive year. Vodafone’s IoT network and services support, for example, smart meter capabilities for energy companies including Centrica, EDF and nPower and provide connectivity for consumer electronics products such as the Amazon Kindle and devices manufactured by Bosch, Panasonic, Philips Lighting and TomTom.
[iv] Vodafone IoT technologies are embedded within connected vehicles built by Audi, BMW, Daimler Benz, Ford, General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Porsche, SEAT, VW and Yamaha motorbikes.
[vi] “V by Vodafone” provides automatic straight-out-of-the-box connection to the international Vodafone IoT network in any of 32 countries. These are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.