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Vodafone launches a range of connected devices and SIM deals

Wednesday, November 8th 2017 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Vodafone has launched a range of ‘Internet of Things’ SIM deals and internet-connected devices including a mobile security camera, pet tracker, bag tracker and car plug-in dongle.

It may be strange to think about buying a SIM for anything other than your phone but there are an increasing number of devices that connect to the internet and it is this so-called ‘Internet of Things’ or ‘IoT’ market that Vodafone is trying to tap into.

The difference between the products being launched by Vodafone and internet-connected devices you may already have at home such as an Amazon Echo or Smart TV is in the way these things get online.

Your Echo and your TV connect to the internet via your home wi-fi network, while the ‘V by Vodafone’ range uses a SIM card to connect directly to Vodafone’s IoT network, so it should stay online wherever you can get a mobile signal.

There are four product categories at the moment, but more will appear next year as Vodafone opens up its new online marketplace to IoT developers. Oh yeah, and these products are currently only available to existing Vodafone mobile customers.

Welcome to the Internet of Things

The V-Auto (you’ll soon get the hang of the naming convention) is described as a ‘plug and drive’ dongle and Vodafone says it will work with most cars made after 2003.

The V-Auto is easy to fit and will work with most cars made since 2003

Once connected it gives your car three new capabilities, assuming it doesn’t already have them. The first is Auto SOS, which contacts the driver and offers support in the event of an accident, and makes an automated call to the emergency services if there is no response.

Find My Car lets you track the whereabouts of your vehicle and Safety Score gives you stats based on your driving performance. The V-Auto is £80 and then you’ll need a £4 a month subscription. In fairness to Vodafone this is the monthly price no matter how much data the V-Auto uses and it will work in 32 different countries covering most of Europe.

The V-Camera (getting it yet?) is a mobile HD security camera that can be used to set up continuous remote video monitoring of any location as long as there’s a 3G or 4G signal.

The camera itself is an Arlo Go, which is weatherproof and can be set up to send you emails or push notifications when it detects sound or movement. It costs £339 upfront plus a £4 a month V-SIM subscription.

The V-Pet uses a combination of GPS and Vodafone’s mobile network to track the location of your dog or cat, sending you alerts if they stray from a designated area and monitoring your pet’s activity and sleeping patterns. Vodafone’s V-Pet device is the Kippy Vita, a small 50g gadget that attaches to your pet’s collar and has a 10-day battery life. It’s £50 from Vodafone plus £4 a month for the V-SIM.

Vodafone’s new briefcase, handbag and school bag tracker is – you guessed it – called the V-Bag and pings an alert right through to your smartphone if your bag leaves a designated area such as a playground or bar.

The V-Bag will alert you if it's removed from a designated area

This device is actually the Alcatel Movetrack, which clips onto or sits inside your bag, has a four-day battery life and is water and dust resistant so you should always be able to find your bag. It’s £59 upfront and then £3 a month for the SIM.

An Internet of Things SIM-only deal

As well as making connectivity possible with these devices, the V-SIM is compatible with a growing list of existing products. If you already have one such product, you can buy a V-SIM for £5. You’ll then be paying either £3 or £4 a month for the subscription depending on the type of device you’re using.

If you’re thinking about buying any of these products you’d better make sure there’s some space on your phone. Vodafone recommends using the V by Vodafone app to manage your subscriptions but in order to use a device you’ll also need to download its own companion app.

Some will be annoyed at having so many extra apps on their phone. Vodafone will say it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.

The company’s group CEO Vittorio Colao said the Internet of Things will usher in a “dramatic shift” in how people manage their daily lives.

“V by Vodafone makes it simple to connect a wide range of IoT-enabled devices, helping customers keep everyone and everything that matters to them safe and secure.”

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