Pebblebee

Setting new standards in personal tracking

Keeping families safe with IoT

In September of 2012, the two year old daughter of Boeing engineer Daniel Daoura disappeared at the Washington State Fair. One moment she was at his side and smiling; the next she was simply gone, lost in a crowd of bodies and faces, none of them hers.

Daniel and his family were fortunate. They found her by the cotton candy stand, happy and well. But it was the single worst experience of his life, and one he resolved not to ever go through again. He stayed awake until morning researching personal tracking solutions. Unfortunately, nothing he found seemed either simple or affordable enough for family use.

As an electrical engineer and software developer with a background in radio frequency communications, he knew there had to be a better way. That certainty, and his initial technical explorations, led him and fellow Boeing engineer Nick Pearson-Franks to create Pebblebee.

Today, with Daniel as CEO and Nick as CTO, Pebblebee offers a wide range of family-friendly personal trackers featuring innovative form factors, extended battery life, and some of the longest-range bluetooth solutions available in any consumer devices today.

I am certain that we would not have been able to deliver such an exceptional solution to our customers without the Soracom team.

Daniel Daoura Founder and CEO, Pebblebee

CHALLENGE

The perfect tracker

On average, people spend 10 minutes a day looking for misplaced household items like keys, wallets, jackets, and remote controls. That’s over an hour a week that Pebblebee gives back by providing the longest range Bluetooth trackers available, with USB-C rechargeable batteries and volume control to maximize time between charges.

But outside the home, where the stakes are higher and even long range Bluetooth can’t reach, most consumer tracking devices fail. Bluetooth can tell you that the dog has left the yard, but can’t say where he might be now. Cellular can track location precisely in most inhabited areas, but uses batteries quickly, adds monthly costs that confuse most consumers, and requires bulky form factors that don’t work well on collars.

Thinking back to Daniel’s experience at the state fair, the Pebblebee team knew that the perfect tracker would need to do a lot more than just find misplaced keys under the sofa. They began working on the problem as early as 2016, progressing through dozens of designs to arrive at the solution: Pebblebee Found.

SOLUTION

No more lost items. Ever.

It took three years, hundreds of prototypes, and a patented new approach to long-range connectivity, but Pebblebee Found now stands as both the most advanced tracker on the market today and the easiest to use.

Pebblebee recognized early in development that pet and family trackers based on currently-available technology were simply broken: pet tracking is a great idea that brings families peace of mind when they need it most, but only if they work. That requires true GPS location over long range, a small form factor, extended battery life, and no added cost for cellular connectivity.

Rather than seeking incremental improvements, Pebblebee took a fresh approach. Most of the time, Found operates on long-range Bluetooth. But in an emergency, when longer-range connectivity is needed, it can switch on demand to LTE-M for true GPS accuracy.

This approach delivers astonishing battery life of up to 12 months on a single charge while entirely removing any need for a data subscription. And by building around a chip-style eSIM, the team was able to deliver industry-leading performance in a package small enough to fit on a collar, a backpack, a bicycle, or even a drone.

WHY SORACOM

Found may be Pebblebee’s first device to feature cellular connectivity, but it takes cellular technology about as far as it can go in a consumer device. Pebblebee’s patented method for LTE-M connection delivers Bluetooth-like power consumption with range limited only by network coverage.

Pebblebee needed an equally ambitious connectivity partner. At a base level, they required LTE Cat M1 connectivity in an eSIM form factor. More importantly, they needed a team that could keep up with Pebblebee’s cutting-edge approach to device and connection management.

As Daniel Daoura explains, “I am fortunate to have an amazing team at Pebblebee with a genuine passion for delivering quality products that make a real difference in people’s lives. I’m equally fortunate to have found a partner in Soracom that shares those values. I am certain that we would not have been able to deliver such an exceptional solution to our customers without the Soracom team.”

In particular, Daoura notes Soracom’s range of value-added services, genuine interest in rolling up sleeves to resolve IoT architecture challenges, and a speed of response that made Soracom solutions architects feel like part of his own product team. As an example, you can read Daniel’s blog post describing Pebblebee’s eDRX implementation, or ours for a look behind the curtain at how we made it happen.

Services in use

• SORACOM Air: smart connectivity for IoT
• SORACOM IoT eSIM: the next little thing in IoT

FUTURE PLANS

A commitment to connection

Pebblebee’s mission is to help people stay connected to their loved ones. The team is already hard at work creating new products to extend that connection beyond pets.

Pebblebee’s goal isn’t to have large volumes in sales; it’s to provide the best user experience possible. Daniel, Nick, and the Pebblebee team are confident that if they continue to innovate, do right by their customers, and build strong relationships within the IoT ecosystem, everything else will fall into place.

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