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31 August, 2014

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Telematics-based insurance: 2014 could be its year

There has been a rapid rise in the number of vehicle insurance policies that are related to driver behaviour monitoring, according to the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA).

It says these sales have increased by 116,000 (around 61 per cent) since June 2012. According to BIBA, behaviour-based policies (the term usually means telematics-related policies) can offer savings on motor insurance of around 25 per cent, and some young drivers can save up to £1,000.

According to Paul Stacy, research and development director at Wunelli, a specialist in insurance-based telematics, uptake had risen to 296,000 units by January 2014.

The proportion of all motor insurance policies held by telematics-based schemes still languishes at 1 per cent, Wunelli acknowledges, but the company is predicting that 2014 will be the year when telematics moves from a niche to a mass market.

It has analysed 764 million miles of driving data, and says that on the basis of its findings, insurers could determine the ultimate loss ratios of individual risks within weeks of a policy being taken up.

"We have reached a point now where we know than an accurate score can be produced within weeks of policy inception using a hard-wired device, and after just 200 miles through a telematics app," Stacy says.

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Tracker Network’s acquisition by Lysanda could create major force in telematics

Telematics specialist Lysanda has acquired fellow-telematics company Tracker Network from Direct Line, the insurance group, for an undisclosed sum. It says the combined business will be one of the biggest in the market, with revenues of £20 million and an installed base of around 500,000 systems across Europe.

Lysanda is the younger company, though it has been in business for nine years, and describes itself as a market-leading provider of advanced telematics and infomatics solutions.

Its focus is primarily business-to-business sales; it is understood to have tier 1 and distributor agreements worldwide, and offers a range of solutions including in-depth driver analytics and insurance risk management, vehicle health diagnostics and telematics-based forensic crash analysis.

Tracker Network is twenty years old, and has long been a leader in stolen vehicle tracking and recovery, but also provides a range of conventional fleet tracking solutions. It uses a variety of GPS and VHF technologies to provide robust and reliable performance, and says that over the years, working with the police, it has recovered 22,323 assets and stolen vehicles worth £479 million.

Tracker claims to have over 350,000 customers, and to hold key relationships with all police forces in the UK, along with organisations such as LoJack, Plextek, Arqiva and WirelessLogic. It is seen as more of a business-to-consumer supplier, meaning there should be synergies between the two companies.

Lysanda says the two companies will be brought together in the coming months under a new brand, Tantalum, which will be run by an organisation called Tantalum Corporation.

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Rugged separate-keypad Nautiz handheld

Nautiz X4 from Handheld
An all-new rugged handheld computer with something of the style of a smartphone has been launched by Handheld Group. The Nautiz X4, while not in fact quite as rugged as the company’s existing X1 smartphone, nevertheless meets many of the requirements for use in tough environments, including the provision of a physical keypad below the touch screen.

It is a traditional Microsoft Windows device, running Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 Professional. The processor is a Texas Instruments AM3703 unit running at 1 GHz, which is supported by 512MB of RAM and a 1GB of flash storage, plus a user-accessible microSD card slot.

The resistive touch screen is a 3.5in high-brightness sunlight-readable VGA unit. The physical keyboard can have either QWERTY or numeric layout.

The device is pretty tough, bearing an IP65 rating for dust and water resistance and a MIL-STD-810G rating for vibration and shocks. It is said to have withstood 26 1.22-metre drops to concrete and a 500-cycle tumble test.

Connectivity is provided by Wi-Fi to 802.11b/g/n standard, Bluetooth 2.1 EDR and so-called 3.8G mobile phone and data. There is an option of either a 1D laser scanner or 2D imager – both by Honeywell.

Other features include a 5-megapixel autofocus camera and integrated u-blox GPS. The battery is a high-capacity 4000mAh li-ion unit.

* There is also a ticket-reader version of the X4, featuring a built-in advanced contactless smartcard reader from Arcontia for secure transactions and ticket validation.

Yodel rolls out Motorola management system to mobile estate

Yodel, one of Britain’s biggest home delivery parcel specialists, is introducing what is termed a Mobility Lifecycle Management system from Motorola Solutions to provide visibility and remote management of its portfolio of 8,000 mobile devices and 12,000 "seasonal" devices.

It is understood that the Motorola MLM system has allowed Yodel to confirm far more deliveries electronically than in the past; the operator says only half the previous number of deliveries now have to be confirmed on paper. Yodel also says the system has reduced latency issues by more than 50 per cent.

Yodel uses various handheld mobile devices including Motorola Solutions’ MC67, MC45 and RS507 models to scan parcels, give its drivers delivery instructions and capture customer signatures. Individual parcels are scanned at various stages of the delivery process to provide accurate tracking for Yodel’s clients and their customers.

Motorola’s MLM product is device-agnostic, offering similar capabilities on Windows Mobile, Apple iOS and Android operating systems from a wide variety of device manufacturers.

Dick Stead, Yodel’s executive chairman, comments: "The real driver behind logistics isn’t vehicles, but technology. Our alliance with Motorola Solutions provides us with a one-stop solution to managing our estate and future proofing our business."


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TouchStar launches affordable handheld range

This is the look of TouchStar’s new CL range of handheld computers, which it describes as its “affordable” range. There are four models in all, each using this same general design, and they can incorporate a wide range of classic features for mobile applications, including laser scanner, 2D scanner, RFID, digital imager and intelligent signature capture.

There is one model with a 2.8in QVGA screen, one with a 3.2in screen and two with a 3.5in screen. They are all Windows devices, but the operating system varies between models. The CL-50 3.5in model uses the long-serving Windows Mobile 6.5 Professional, but the other three run Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5, the newer offer. The CL-60 model can also have Windows CE.

The flagship CL-60 has a 1GHz Texas Instruments OMAP processor, with a generous 515MB of SDRAM and 4GB of flash memory. The other models have different processors – 800MHz Samsung for the CL-50, and 528MHz Qualcomm for the CL-30 and CL-9200.

All have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth networking plus GPS, and all except the CL-30 GPRS have 3.8G telephony. All except the lightweight CL-30 model have a dust and water ingress rating of IP65 or better (the CL-60 has IP67).

All have a built-in camera. Those on the CL-50 and CL-60, at 5 megapixels, offer the highest resolution.

Dentressangle to track entire UK tanker fleet

Norbert Dentressangle is installing a vehicle tracking and driving style management solution in its UK tanker distribution operations – primarily to support its reputation for safe deliveries.

According to Danny Woodiwiss, general manager for fuel and chemical operations at Norbert Dentressangle Tankers: “The system will help to pinpoint specific coaching needs to maximise performance of our drivers and fleet. We’ll have accurate data that we can use to develop and prescribe training to suit each driver.”

The company chose the Isotrak system following a rigorous procurement process, and it will eventually be installed in 260 vehicles at 31 sites across the UK. Of these, 120 working for a specific customer are already equipped with the system. Now it is now being extended fleet-wide to include vehicles working for a range of other multinational companies.

The system is based on standard Isotrak vehicle tracking with the contactless CANBus module, and will show the company how vehicles are being driven, enabling it to monitor issues such as harsh braking and acceleration. The driving style management functionality will be adapted to suit the company’s needs, and the automated reporting and its output will also be tailored.

Dentressangle’s tanker business carries liquid chemicals, bulk gas, packed cylinders and dry bulk powders. It says it will be using vehicle tracking and live vehicle diagnostics to track and manage the entire fleet.

Choose your own device: a new trend for 2014?

If you’re keen to adopt a BYOD (bring your own device) policy for mobile communications in your business, but are nervous about the management and security ramifications, a new philosophy is emerging that might suit you better.

It’s been named “choose your own device”, or CYOD, and it’s being touted in some quarters as a good compromise. As the name suggests, employees don’t simply use any device they like; instead, they choose a device from a list of approved options.

ITC Infotech, an IT services and solutions specialist, is one of the companies promoting the idea, and Hardeep Singh Garewal, its Europe president, explains why. 

“By limiting the number of options available to staff,” he says, “you can reduce the complexity of BYOD significantly without losing the benefits of increased staff mobility, higher job satisfaction and improvement in efficiency and productivity.”

ITC Infotech argues that CYOD allows IT managers to retain more control over their IT estate than the “free-for-all” of BYOD. It can prevent IT managers from feeling overburdened while still providing the desired functionality, mobility and flexibility, the company says.

Research by Forrester is said to suggest that within two years, 350 million workers will use smartphones, and 200 million of them will take their own devices to the workplace. CYOD could take some of the anguish out of the implied management task this will bring.

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