Below is our recent interview with Ric Murray, Vice President Of Global Business Development at Able Device:
Q: Could you provide our readers with a brief introduction to Able Device?
A: Able Device provides standards-based enabling technology that simplifies and accelerates the development and deployment of Internet of Things (IoT) applications on mobile networks. Our innovative technology enables standard Subscriber Identity Modules (SIMs or embedded eSIMs), which are inserted into all mobile devices with Mobile Network Operator (MNO) subscriptions, to act as stand-alone processors that run device management tools and / or applications in IoT devices. By utilizing the processing power of SIMs / eSIMs we’re able to offer a standards-based, yet unique way to shift security, intelligence, and Quality of Experience (QoE) to the extreme edge of a mobile IoT solution.
Q: What is SIMbae? How does it work?
A: SIMbae stands for SIM Based Applications Engine and is a small Java Card software applet – ranging between 5KB and 20KB, depending on features – that embeds on any standard SIM or eSIM. It’s important to highlight that the SIM is the only standard component contained in every IoT device connected to mobile networks.
In addition to SIMs being the only standard component across all mobile IoT devices, most people aren’t aware that SIMs are small, very secure processors with operating systems, standard file structures, form factors, and logical I/Os. Although SIMs can run applications, they have traditionally only been used for authentication when connecting to a new network as a way to eliminate potential fraud. This advanced, secure method of identity management is like the pin and chip method used by credit cards. Once the SIM is authenticated on the network, it normally goes dormant until instructed to run another function by the baseband or application processor. The interactions between these components are executed via the SIM Tool Kit (STK), which is a global standard that dates back to 2G networks and is supported by all standards-compliant SIMs and embedded cellular modules.
SIMbae extends the SIM’s capabilities to act as a secure, independent processor by enabling the execution of user defined IoT tools and applications. By using the same standard pathways to the cellular module and application processor (i.e. STK), SIMbae effectively turns the tables in the device architecture to control the device’s connectivity and IoT functions.
Q: What is SIMbae’s value proposition for IoT solution providers and end users?
A: SIMbae extends the value and utility of the IoT device’s sunk SIM cost and integration by providing a standard, secure, low power, low touch, and easily deployed processor that can be securely updated remotely via standard OTA. The value of SIMbae is further enhanced by the ability to execute IoT device connectivity QoE and security tools, or even host the full IoT application. This small applet provides significant value by using existing assets to address common IoT deployment challenges.
Q: In the last year or more, SIMbae has been prominently featured in the GSMA Innovation City Pavilions at each of the regional Mobile World Congresses, in a GSMA whitepaper on using the SIM as an embedded security chip, and was awarded Best of Show in the Industrial IoT Implementation category at this year’s IoT Evolution event. To what do you credit all of the industry buzz?
A: Much of this recognition is due to SIMbae’s innovation that uses standards rather than proprietary solution elements. Simply stated, SIMbae provides a standards-based solution to many of the challenges faced by IoT solutions. Before SIMbae’s innovation, the industry consisted of proprietary, non-standard solutions which either required the integration of hardware components from specific vendors, thus locking you into that vendor. Or, pushing the intelligence into the cloud, which binds the solution to the cloud provider while driving up data costs and exposing the end users to data privacy issues. Alternatively, SIMbae leverages the long-standing SIM and network standards to eliminate these issues.
Q: Why is now the time for a technology solution like SIMbae?
A: Now that the IoT industry is through its initial iterations, it has recognized the very serious challenges around security, power draw, QoE, and the excessive amount of data that is being transported via these applications. SIMbae shifts the intelligence to the very edge of an IoT solution; the SIM in the device, greatly reducing security threats, while reducing or eliminating the need for any data services out of the cloud. All of this is achieved without the addition of any hardware components or external services – for a small one-time license fee for each SIM deployed.
Q: What can we expect from Able Device in the future?
A: At Able Device we’re very bullish on the future as eSIMs and 5G begin their rollouts.
5G will be the catalyst for many current non-participating enterprises to jump into the mobile IoT space. The ability to slice the data streams for their specific purposes as well as the ubiquity of the connectivity will make it very attractive for them to dive into the pool. However, those exact same enterprises are going to be extremely concerned with QoE and how it impacts their customers’ perception of their service’s value. SIMbae provides these enterprises with a set of standards-based tools embedded in a secure component, the SIM, which is already part of the device. An exciting aspect of this solution is that it eliminates the need for any additional development or integration in the IoT device because SIMbae is embedded on the SIM, interacting with the cellular module via the standard STK.
eSIMs take these advantages even further because SIMbae can be deployed in the eSIM’s third-party application space, meaning it will work with whatever MNO subscription is being used. Therefore, eSIMs using SIMbae prevent enterprises and OEMs from being locked into the original cellular module designed into the device, or to the original SIM OTA service provider or MNO as the service evolves. By not being locked into a cellular module vendor or service provider / MNO, enterprises and OEMs can quickly deploy and expand IoT solutions without the time and cost associated with hardware and software redesigns or service integrations.