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Waterloo startup Eleven-x expands Internet of Things network

Posted on Tuesday June 20, 2017

News Jun 16, 2017 by Terry Pender Waterloo Region Record

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Ryan Hickey

Eleven-x CEO Ryan Hickey stands in front of antenna arrays on the roof of a building at 375 King St. N. in Waterloo. The startup has set up a low power, wide area network used for the Internet of Things. - Peter Lee,Record staff file photo

WATERLOO — A Waterloo startup has expanded its network enabling machine-to-machine communication for the Internet of Things across the country.

Eleven-x, based in the Accelerator Centre in the David Johnston Research and Technology Park, recently expanded its low power wide area network to Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Montreal, and Halifax. The technology provides low-cost connectivity for sensors used in the network of connected devices called the Internet of Things.

"It's been pretty swift," Ryan Hickey, Eleven-x co-founder and CEO said of the expansion.

Just over a year ago, Eleven-x started with a single tower on the roof of a building at 375 King St. N. in Waterloo, and quickly expanded its network to cover all of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge. Then it moved into Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Oakville and Burlington.

With its latest expansion, Eleven-x technology is now deployed in 22 cities covering 60 per cent of the country's population, and stretches from coast-to-coast.

"A lot of our private-sector customers are big corporations that have nationwide deployment of their services or products, so if they are going to adopt new technology they want to make sure they have the whole Canadian market covered," said Hickey.

The Eleven-x network can be used to monitor traffic lights, water meters, vehicles, heavy equipment, luggage trolleys in airports, water levels, soil conditions, the movements of frail elderly people, electricity usage, parking spaces, street lights, bicycles and just about anything or anyone equipped with a sensor.

The Region of Waterloo uses the Eleven-x network to monitor more than 700 wells that provide drinking water. The smart cities market is a big one for Eleven-x; the startup is involved in several pilot projects for parking, assisted living and meter reading.

Eleven-X builds the technology that connects sensors to the network, and the network itself. The network is designed to provide long battery life, allowing sensors to be powered for up to five years on two AA batteries.

The company's network uses LoRaWAN technology, an international standard that is freely available. There are more than 450 companies in the LoRaWAN Alliance, including Eleven-x.

"And all of these companies are developing solutions for this type of networking technology," said Hickey.

That's important, Hickey said, because Canada is a couple of years behind Europe and Asia when it comes to long-range, low-power, wireless networks. And it means Eleven-x can easily partner with other members of the alliance that have already developed specific technology for the network.

"What that brings to us, Eleven-x here in Canada, is a rich ecosystem of solutions that we can then bring to our customers," he said. "So we don't have to go and develop all these individual IoT vertical solutions."

Most of the Eleven-x team previously worked in wireless research and development at BlackBerry. That group developed the firmware, hardware and software that made BlackBerry famous.

Eleven-x employs 20 people, but expects its workforce will grow substantially over the next year.

tpender@therecord.com , Twitter: @PenderRecord

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